On March 25, the lockdown was lifted from most areas of Hubei province, except Wuhan. Hubei residents with a ‘green’ health code were permitted to resume travel. However, due to distrust between Jiangxi and Hubei provinces, Jiangxi police established a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge on the morning of March 27 and refused entry to Hubei residents. This triggered a clash between police of both provinces, and up to ten thousand people gathered to protest.
A large number of Hubei residents gathered on the bridge, shouting, “Let’s go Hubei!” Other Hubei residents held up banners asking Jiangxi police, “Why are you coming to Hubei and setting up a blockade?” Protesters overturned multiple Jiujiang police vehicles. Others went to the Jiangxi Jiujiang Bridge Police Station, shouting, “Apologize Jiujiang!” That evening, Huanggang city in Hubei province sent two special forces vans and multiple police vehicles to the scene as a demonstration of force.
Xiaochi town and Jiujiang city are separated by a river. It’s only a 10 minute ride from Xiaochi to Jiujiang Railway Station. Hubei residents have been under lockdown for over two months and have no income. Many have mortgages and car loans to pay and are desperate to go out to find work. Jiangxi’s blockade angered many people, leading to a large scale protest.
Xiaochi residents say that because authorities have concealed the truth about the epidemic in Hubei from the start, they are suspicious about the recent drop in the number of confirmed cases. They suspect the drop may be due to a need for people to go back to work. Therefore, they are ostracizing Hubei residents.
Ms. Li, a Xiaochi town resident said,
“The bridge is currently open. Today, they started allowing people without certification as long as they had a green code. We can’t do anything about others not believing us.”
Mr. Li, a Jiujiang city resident said,
“The bridge is under the jurisdiction of Jiujiang. For example, the maintenance of the bridge and the collection of tolls, including police patrols, all of that is done by the city of Jiujiang. In other words, when such a thing happens at the border of Hubei province, the Jiujiang police should have jurisdiction over that area. Now, both sides are arguing with valid points. Half the people in Jiujiang are people from Hubei. There are many reasons for the conflict that happened yesterday, but not letting Hubei people come over? I am afraid I have to disagree with that.”
According to the independent financial analysis Chinese program “Cold Eyes on Politics,” Beijing took the lead in preventing Hubei residents from entering and other provinces simply followed suit. The fact that Hubei is being discriminated against despite the lockdown being lifted shows that other provinces are aware of how serious the situation is in Hubei. If Hubei residents cross province borders, they can potentially cause outbreaks in Jiangxi. At that time, Hubei may be able to push the blame, but Jiangxi would be held accountable.