Amid intense COVID-19 lockdowns and shortages of food, desperate Chinese citizens are trying to flee the country, why?
Things have never been so bad in China according to several analyses. One Chinese uncensored Youtube channel says, “Things have never been great in communist China, but now it’s gotten so bad that Chinese are trying to leave the country every way they can. In this episode of China Uncensored, we talk about how China’s youth went from lying flat, to letting it rot, to running, and why China has become such an unbearable place to live that Chinese citizens are desperately trying to escape.”
Hundreds of Chinese manage to escape from the country in droves, amid a surging economic crisis, and in the midst of these desperate times, people have stopped paying their mortgages.
Blame it on communist China, it appears COVID-19 was the main culprit, and it was not the fear of the virus but the fear of prolonged lockdowns imprisoned in suffocating seclusions, often without getting enough food, which also would trigger psychological panic, depression, and fears.
But there was another main trigger that makes the Chinese want to flee
After Shanghai’s reopening on June 1, 2022, authorities inflicted new city-wide lockdowns with over 1 million citizens confined at home or in quarantine facilities due to recent outbreaks of COVID-19. The endless cycle of easing and increasing restrictions has become emotionally and psychologically stressful for citizens.
A new trend called “Run Philosophy” sweeps the country, where masses of people are trying to leave China “by storm”.
China’s propaganda on its people
Communism indoctrinates the people into identifying themselves only with the communist party, where the government, launching a patriotic education campaign indoctrinated the youth into a nationalist cult. They were brainwashed into learning there is no way to separate the Chinese Communist Party from themselves.
This was why it was difficult for the Chinese to accept that the Uyghur genocide was real and believed that these lies were spread by the West to defame China.
The Chinese government made sure that most of these people never even heard of the Tiananmen Square Massacre and kept people in a bubble, believing their government could never do anything wrong. So, it comes as a huge surprise when the Chinese citizens are actually trying to escape from China and even starting to criticize their government.
What changed that made the Chinese want to flee?
In June 2022, the continued lockdowns and quarantines imposed in Shanghai and other Chinese cities have driven China’s middle class to search for plans to move overseas as people grew more concerned about further restrictions that may be imposed to encroach on their basic freedoms and also lead to economic and social stagnation.
The word “immigration” was searched more than 100 million times on a single day at one time! There have been surging FAQs on a range of issues such as visa/passport applications and immersion problems for new immigrants,
According to Chen Daoyin, a political scientist and former associate professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, “The middle-class group expected a decent life… Before they exchanged freedom for security, but now they have neither freedom nor safety.”
A writer in Shanghai told the CS Monitor that she had never lived abroad before but was planning to save up to leave, as she claimed that no one could protect themselves during the lockdown. “This thing is universal – your freedom of residence and freedom of travel will be restricted. You may get a knock on the door and be taken away in the middle of the night.”
China’s youths, particularly those who were educated abroad, fear that the zero-Covid-19 policy was no longer economically practicable, with recent figures showing China’s economy being crushed, thus many have plans to return abroad.
A video went viral and became an online meme depicting police officers warning a young man’s family that they would be punished for three generations for refusing to go to a quarantine camp, in which the man replied, “this will be our last generation,” before it was censored by the authorities.
Many young people in their 20s and 30s identified with the sentiment, with one Weibo user stating, “Not bringing children to this country, to this land, will be the most charitable deed I could manage” under the hashtag #thelastgeneration before it was censored.
According to the Economist, online search trends show that China’s young and educated elite are thinking about leaving the country. Spikes in the searches for “run” on Chinese social media platforms coincided with traumatic events in Shanghai, such as when an asthma patient was refused medical treatment and died, or when videos of infected children separated from their parents spread online.
Unemployment and economy crash
Youth unemployment is escalating by around 20%. One Chinese citizen said that when they returned to China, they had big plans for a great career but COVID revealed the rotten core of Chinese politics and turned the country upside down in two years. They reveal that the government does not care about people’s rights.
The residents are under lengthy COVID lockdowns across China and suffer shortages of food and essential items. Tens of millions of people in around 30 regions have been ordered to stay at home under partial or full lockdowns.
During these times, many ran out of food, basic rice, flour, milk, and eggs. China’s zero-COVID policy demands stringent lockdowns even if a few cases of COVID are reported.
This policy has spurred rare public dissent from citizens and has also been accused of stifling economic growth.
In Xinjiang, a weeks-long lockdown in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture near the border with Kazakhstan has seen desperate residents appeal for help on social media.
One post showed a video of an Uyghur man overcome with emotion, saying his three children had not eaten for three days.
BBC News reports that in Yining city, the capital of Ili, a shared online document with over 300 urgent requests for food, medicine, and sanitary pads was widely circulated.
“I’m out of money to buy supplies. My wife is pregnant and we have two kids. We are running out of gas. My wife needs a medical check,” said another resident.
The biggest blunder of the Chinese government making them want to flee
In the middle of the stress of COVID lockdowns, the Chinese government made its biggest blunder – it targeted everyone which particularly hit the middle class. The middle class is said to have exchanged freedom for security, but now, they found out that they had neither.
A Chinese youth said, “No matter how big your house is or how much money you have, you may get a knock on the door and be taken away in the middle of the night.”
When it was the Uyghur Muslims, Falun Gong, or Chinese dissidents taken away in the middle of the night, no one cared, but when the government started pounding them, things started to feel different.
While the Chinese government does not want the youth to leave the country, the youth have started calling themselves “the last generation”.
There was a Chinese man who flew to Ecuador, walked, hiked, and canoed his way up through Mexico to apply for asylum in the USA. People just don’t feel safe anymore in China, trading freedom for security, which is better?