91-Year-Old Shanghai Dissident Receives Not ‘A Cent’ of Food Amid Lockdown

By Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.
April 8, 2022 Updated: April 8, 2022

A 91-year-old Shanghai resident found no one came to her aid amid a prolonged citywide COVID lockdown—a sharp contrast to last year when four police guarded her home during the country’s biggest annual political meetings.

Nonagenarian Liu Shuzhen, who lives alone, has received “not a cent of food” while stuck at home during the city’s biggest to date COVID-19 outbreak in March, her daughter told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times on April 5. Nor has anyone responded to their calls to get help for her made to Shanghai’s 12345, a 24-hour government-run public service hotline, despite officials having promised the government wouldn’t turn its back on elderly residents who live alone.

Her family is begging for help. “We are able to afford the old mother, but now nothing can be sent to her [from us] under traffic control and delivery bans,” said Liu’s daughter.

The major Chinese financial center reported a record of around 21,000 new infections on April 7, the highest in two years, fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The city’s total has surpassed 100,000 since March, whereas the actual infection rate is suspected to be significantly higher than what is reported.

Liu was “temporarily resettled” in the now sealed hotel room in Pudong district in August 2005, when local authorities forcibly demolished her house on Shangnan Road to make way for the construction of the Shanghai World Expo 2010.

Liu has so far received no compensation for resettlement despite repeated pleas to authorities. Municipal officials told her in 2019 that the case had been closed. The elderly lady protested at a city council meeting on the morning of March 3 last year, holding a petition in front of her, and appealing for justice; but to no avail as a dozen police forced her away.

“When the Two Sessions were held [this year], four policemen watched her from Feb. 20 to March 20 to keep her from petitioning,” said the daughter, referring to the Party’s annual meetings held by the top political advisory body, normally in March, which would precipitate mass arrests and detention of activists and petitioners across the country.

“During the pandemic, on the contrary, no one came to care for her, nor did anyone bring a cent of food to her,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
Health workers wearing personal protective equipment walk in a neighborhood during a COVID-19 lockdown in the Jing’an district in Shanghai on April 8, 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Some elderly people have starved to death at home, resident Sun Fengqiu from Baoshan district told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times on April 7, yet such information has been taken down from many chat group posts. The Epoch Times cannot independently verify this as fact.

Elderly tenants who don’t use mobile apps and less tech-savvy residents have been struggling with online grocery shopping. But stock shortage made it even harder with all essentials gone and orders canceled.

“Even if I can scramble for an order today, it will take another two or three days to receive,” said Sun, who has been isolated for over 20 days starting in mid-March, waiting for official drop-offs of rice, oil, vegetables, meat, and eggs. “Can you imagine? Shanghai is the top city by GDP in China. … I don’t know what’s going on [with authorities], we’re all in a panic.”

The city launched another round of mandatory mass COVID testing on April 6 after extending the lockdown indefinitely earlier this week. Under China’s “zero-COVID” policy, anyone found positive must go to a mandatory quarantine center rather than stay at home with non-infected people.

Yelling for Food

An increasing number of Shanghai residents told The Epoch Times that they cannot stand the agonizing weeks of waiting any longer, as online video clips show confined high-rise tenants yelling in solidarity from their windows and balconies.

“We want supplies!” a chain of angry voices arose in the dark as locals chanted, as seen in a recent video.

At 8:30 p.m. on April 6, residents of a neighborhood  in Songnanzhen, Shanghai’s Baoshan district, shouted together “Sonanzhen wants supplies,” resident Deng Yongchang (pseudonym), said in an April 7 interview.

The neighborhood where Sun lives also joined the protest, she said. “This is our minimum requirement—we just want enough to eat.”

“We here really didn’t receive any supplies,” she said and complained about uneven distribution, given that some communities have received third and fourth batches of government supplies.

False online propaganda initiated the outcries among residents in Baoshan, as authorities claimed to have delivered supplies to the neighborhood. In fact they were given to only a few households, according to Sun. “Most of the residents of that neighborhood did not obtain the so-called free supplies,” she said, calling it a “show” by politicians.

Videos of grassroots mass gatherings also surfaced online as crowds of ordinary citizens took the streets protesting against their food struggles.

Gao Miao, Hong Ning, and Gu Qinger contributed to this report.

Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.