Chinese authorities have started promoting a narrative that threatens the use of the “death penalty” on those who resist cooperating with the country’s harsh zero-COVID-19 policies.
On Oct. 24, the State Council of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reported that since Oct. 17, Delta variant outbreaks have been detected in multiple locations and have rapidly expanded across the country. This was happening because numerous infected people had traveled across regions, increasing the spread of the virus. The actual source of the spread is still under investigation.
Just four days later, the CCP Health Committee announced that the Delta variant had been found in more than a dozen provinces besides Beijing, including Zhejiang, Henan, Fujian, Hubei, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Sichuan, and others. In total, there were 701 active cases confirmed nationwide that day.
The reportedly aggressive return of the virus into Beijing has caused concern among local authorities, prompting them to deliver statements on how they will rectify the situation, which sometimes included threatening measures. City authorities are doubling down on their COVID-zero policy ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
On Oct. 28, the CCP’s official media CCTV, referenced an article in which an attorney was quoted as saying, “violating the epidemic prevention regulations constitutes a punishable crime that could warrant the death penalty.”
The quoted attorney, Zhao Zong, works for Beijing’s Zhongwen Law Firm. He said that any person who knows or suspects they are contagious or has been in close contact with an infected person must lawfully comply with quarantine guidelines. If they do not, the act of endangering public safety constitutes a punishable crime that could potentially warrant the death penalty.
Here are some of the measures already enacted by Beijing authorities: no unnecessary travel outside the capital; travel between provinces is suspended; all activity centers are closed, including chess and poker rooms; and mandatory vaccinations, including for children as young as 3 years old. The authorities have also launched a third dose of vaccination for key staff, who must take the boosters to keep their jobs.
On Oct. 28, two high-speed trains en-route to Beijing were suddenly stopped because each had a crew member that allegedly came into close contact with a contagious person. One train was the G14 carrying 212 people from Shanghai. Halfway through its journey, the Beijing Railway Bureau ordered the train to stop at Jinan West Station in Shandong Province. Everyone on board was removed immediately and transferred to an isolation site for centralized quarantine and medical observation.
Later that afternoon, the G108 train carrying 134 people from Jiaxing to Beijing South Station was also stopped by the Beijing Railway Bureau. Everyone on board was also quarantined. Initial COVID-19 testing of all 346 passengers and crew from both trains were all negative for COVID-19.
The swift and aggressive response in these two incidents reveals just how nervous the authorities are in wanting to eradicate COVID-19 from Beijing.
One video blogger who produces the program “Cold Eyes on Finance” commented that the CCP’s COVID-19 elimination model has more shockingly become a “concentration camps everywhere” model, and that the authorities have become “increasingly evil,” stripping away the human rights of the Chinese people. If you dare not to cooperate, you may be jailed immediately, he said.
The number of virus cases confirmed by the CCP may appear small, but “they are not transparent, so the reports are not credible,” he added. “Although there are only a few dozen cases a day, they [the authorities] are turning the lives of 1.4 billion Chinese people upside down.”