Shanghai Snippets – Dealing with Authorities in May 2022
Shanghai “reopens” but the buses are all empty; some tips on coping in the meantime.
No, contrary to the headlines broadcast all around China and around the world, Shanghai has not reopened. Despite multiple promises, even residents whose compounds have been without cases for over 14 days remain for the most part stuck inside their gates. Most stores including supermarkets remain closed.
Shanghai, like Beijing and several other provinces, is back to doing daily PCR tests. An exception applies to people who already got infected and have recovered. The current policy seems to be that the latter should NOT participate in mass tests.
Four out of 20 subway lines and 273 bus lines have allegedly reopened, but seem to be all but empty. Private cars without special permits remain banned from the streets. Describing this as ‘reopening’ seems like a stretch.
There has been some progress, however. Thanks to a fire, most of the street barricades were removed. Prior to this particular fire, Beijing’s planners apparently forgot that barricades might impede fire trucks.
Fun (e.g. outside sports like tennis) seems to be permitted again in some cases.
And markets have adapted – albeit at a significantly higher price level. Food and other supplies are increasingly easy to obtain for those able to use smart phones. Some courier services have resumed deliveries of backlogged items; few are accepting outgoing parcels, however. (For one exception, see point #9 below.)
Meanwhile in the capital, only two Beijing city districts (Dongcheng & Xicheng) permit their companies to continue normal business. Staff members living in other districts are not however permitted to commute to these two districts for work. Again, note that these rules are likely to change on a daily basis.
With that background, here are some bullet points for readers located in Shanghai:
1) Reopening. Rumor has it that the Beijing overlords are targeting a reopening date of June 1st for Shanghai. If true, this would explain the resumption of daily PCR tests. By contrast according to official documents published earlier, the reopening is supposed to take place step by step over the course of June. We interpret that to mean that ‘normal’ life would not resume until July. If Shanghai remains closed until July, it’s hard to see how most companies will be able to survive. The government has yet to announce any type of general financial support for distressed companies.
2) Testing theater. Refusal to participate in testing continues to be widespread. Refuseniks MAY end up with yellow health codes, but this seems to be up to the local neighborhood committee. As long as the lockdowns continue, health code color is however fairly irrelevant. While refusing to participate in tests is not likely to make one popular with the local neighborhood committee, a visit from the police is apparently rare. Typically, a single negative PCR test is all that is required to convert the health code back to green.
3) Commissar Sun now focusing on Beijing? Sun Chunlan is now back in Beijing, presumably looking to repeat her Shanghai successes. (See our previous story if the name Sun Chunlan doesn’t ring a bell.) Her parting gift for Shanghai was one last slogan – “斩尾行动” – “cut off the tail” campaign. It’s hard not to wonder which tail that might be.
In Beijing she seems to be taking an even harder line. In one case in Beijing’s Xin Nanyuan (南新园) development, 13,000 residents in a housing development with multiple cases were deported to quarantine hotels. There were multiple cases (allegedly 20+) in the compound and the transmission chain could not be determined. Some residents refused to go, but the authorities apparently bought them off by offering them luxurious accommodation in top-of-the-line four and five star hotels.
Some of the previously sidelined Shanghai health officials, such as Wu Fan (吴凡), the head of Shanghai’s infectious diseases institute (上海市重大传染病和生物安全研究), are now back on the job. Others include Zhang Wenhong (张文宏) and Wu Jinglei (邬惊雷). All three appeared in a public discussion on May 21st. This can be seen as tentatively positive.
4) Avoiding the camps. Deportation policies for people who test positive on the PCR test remain strict. Resistance to deportation always remains an option but the authorities are increasingly ruthless in their measures to force compliance. Those who suspect that they have been infected – for example by virtue of an antibody test – may be able to avoid deportation by simply refusing to participate in the mass PCR tests for as long as possible. We are aware of one case where the person concerned skipped three weeks of tests.
Foreigners who test positive are unfortunately now subject to the same deportation rules as Chinese citizens. The short-lived policy excepting households including foreigners was nixed in mid-April. Nonetheless, where foreigners are involved there is typically a heightened reluctance to resort to violent acts such as breaking and entering, so simply refusing to open the door can work. Foreigners in such a situation should definitely inform their embassies.
If you do decide to assent to deportation, those who are perceived as ‘difficult’ are more likely to end up with better conditions, especially families with children. There are both hotel rooms for families as well as apartments with actual kitchens and private showers. Taking pets along seems to be a point which can also be negotiated.
5) Close contact policy. Significant anecdotal evidence points to the conclusion that virus transmission does in fact often take place between apartments located under or over one another. As a result, in their increasingly desperate efforts to stop the spread, authorities are now attempting to deport not only neighbors sharing the same floor with the infected household, but also those living over and under them. Forgetting for the moment the absurdity of going to all this trouble for such a mild virus, there is some logic to this.
There are also isolated reports of entire buildings being deported, but this does not seem to be a general policy.
Regardless of the medical logic, legally speaking forcibly deporting close contacts remains highly questionable. As Tong Zhiwei (童之伟), a professor of constitutional law at Shanghai’s East China University of Political Science and Law, has pointed out, the legal prerequisite for forcing uninfected residents into quarantine is the formal designation of an emergency by the State Council or the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
When asked for a legal basis, police typically cite article 50a of the so-called Public Security Administration Penal Law (治安管理处罚法). However, this article specifically states that it only applies in the case of a formally declared emergency, something which has not yet happened.
If you do decide to agree, make sure you negotiate where you will be taken. Cite various reasons why you need good conditions (medical issues, special food needs, family members or pets needing care etc.) Many people have reported success insisting that they be allowed to take their pets with them.
6) Disinfection (消杀). Health authorities have been directed to attempt to “disinfect” infected households by spraying all the surface areas. Needless to say, this ‘disinfectant’ is not particularly healthy. There is no compelling legal reason to assent to this. Article 39 of the Chinese Constitution protects the inviolability of the home. If you don’t want your home disinfected, just say no.
7) Post-infection paperwork. If you do test positive, go through some kind of quarantine and test negative again, make sure you get a ‘certification of termination of quarantine’ (解离证明) from the detention camp or from your local health authority. It’s a piece of actual paper with a stamp on it. You should be able to get this after testing negative twice. Without this your health code may stay red. There have been problems in the past getting these for foreigners, possibly due to bugs in the software in use. If you are unable to resolve this, your embassy may be able to help apply pressure.
8) Leaving the country. Last year the Chinese government announced restrictions on exiting the country applicable to Chinese passport holders, limiting travel to “essential trips only.” These restrictions were recently re-affirmed in early May. Make sure you review the acceptable reasons in advance. Joining family members (家庭团聚) seems to be an acceptable one. Other acceptable reasons include: employment, medical treatment, school graduation attendance (relatives only), wedding attendance (relatives only), family deaths and “urgent personal matters.”
If asked for a return date, either provide a ticket, or state explicitly that you have no plan to return. As long as your answers match their guidelines, according to most reports at least in Shanghai you should be ok.
The US government has announced special relaxed policies for Chinese nationals traveling together with US citizens out of Shanghai applicable until June 10th. Among other things, the requirements to submit PCR test results and confirmation of vaccine status have both been temporarily suspended. Nonetheless, you still need PCR test results less the 48 hours old to access the airport.
9) Outgoing courier services. For those in need of outgoing services you may try Kuayue Express (跨越速运). Their Wechat mini-app is called 跨越寄件; the website is ky-express.com. Their network is limited in scope but they can get to Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in China.
Legal opinion summary:
1) According to the Constitution, at present, any organization or official in Shanghai who decides and declares that Shanghai or a certain place in Shanghai is in a state of emergency, does so without any legal basis. All organizations and individuals should expose and resist the illegality of the false claim of a "state of emergency";
2) Any claim or practice of any organization or official in Shanghai that they have the right to use coercive means to forcibly send citizens to quarantine in accordance with a decision or order issued by the People's Government is illegal and invalid.
3) Any organization or official in Shanghai that uses coercive means to forcibly send any resident other than a patient, pathogen carrier, or suspected patient to a makeshift hospital for quarantine constitutes an unlawful infringement of the personal rights of the citizen concerned and should be held legally responsible accordingly.
4) Public authorities of all levels and types in Shanghai have the responsibility and obligation to immediately stop the use of coercive means to forcibly send any resident other than a patient, pathogen carrier, or suspected patient to quarantine, and to protect the legitimate personal rights and freedoms of citizens.
5) Any citizen whose personal rights and freedoms are threatened has the right to request the staff executing the coercive order to produce a paper copy of the decision or order issued under the seal of the People's Government or a copy of the website of the state organ.
6) Any citizen whose personal rights have been violated has the right to file a lawsuit in the People's Court afterwards to obtain legal protection and remedy in accordance with the law.
fake is the key word here...
What a tyrannical shithole