Almost 1 Million People in Chinese City Near iPhone Factory Under Lockdown

Almost 1 Million People in Chinese City Near iPhone Factory Under Lockdown
Passengers wait for their train to arrive at the Zhengzhou East railway station in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China, on Sept. 30, 2021. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Naveen Athrappully

The city of Zhengzhou in China’s Henan Province has shut down one of its most populated districts and put almost 1 million residents under lockdown because of a flare-up of COVID-19.

Residents were asked to remain in their homes beginning on Oct. 17. Nonessential businesses have been shut down. The only instances in which people are allowed to leave their homes is when they need to undergo COVID-19 tests.

Zhengzhou is famous for being a hub for manufacturing iPhones. However, the manufacturing plants aren't located in the district subject to the lockdown.

COVID-19 restrictions are being imposed on other major Chinese cities as well. In the port city of Tianjin, one district is under lockdown. In the southern city of Guangzhou, schools have been shut down in one area.

In the financial hub of Shanghai, some schools have suspended in-person classes. Entertainment venues, such as cinemas and bars, have temporarily shut down in at least five districts. Some neighborhoods are also under lockdown. In certain areas, individual compounds have been barricaded with green fences.

Many people in China are growing frustrated at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) stringent policies. In an interview with Al Jazeera, a 34-year-old female resident of Beijing said that authorities have asked her to wear an electronic monitoring wristband at all times as part of the regime’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have never put it on,” she said. “I have accepted lockdowns, forced COVID-19 tests, and health codes, but this thing feels like surveillance just for the sake of surveillance. ... I am afraid that the COVID-19 strategy is starting to be about controlling Chinese people instead of fighting COVID-19.”

Censorship, Economic Impacts

The CCP has ramped up censorship online in a bid to stem the spread of frustration among the public, who are discontent with COVID-19 restrictions. In Beijing, two banners criticizing Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the regime’s COVID-19 policy were recently put up.
“We want food, not PCR tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns and controls,” one of the banners stated, according to Bloomberg. The regime soon banned using the words “bridge” and “Beijing” on social media platforms.
On July 1, China’s “daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people” hit a low of 0.05, according to data from Our World In Data. As of Oct. 16, this number was at 0.71, an increase of more than 14 times.

A group of economists surveyed by Bloomberg expects China's economy to only grow by 3.3 percent this year, which would be its second weakest growth rate in more than 40 years.

And with the Chinese economy slowing, Xi is attempting to shift the basis of his legitimacy to security from economic growth, Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, told Reuters.

“His narrative is—China faces many dangers, the country is in a war-like state, figuratively, and he is the savior. With this narrative, he can get people to unite around him.”

Xi is anticipated to be elected to an unprecedented third term in office at the CCP’s 20th National Congress, which convened in Beijing on Oct. 16.