China's response to Covid is unique amongst the economic powers in the world. They've elected to go with the zero tolerance standard. Here's what I know.
I have yet to have a conversation with a local and get their perspective other than Ye. She tells me the hospital capacity concern here in China is a real thing. The question I really want to ask her is about the origin of Covid-19, but I don't want to offend. All the Americans here tell me that locals don't believe that the virus came from Wuhan. They say it came from outside the country. I haven't really watched state media because I wouldn't be able to understand the language.
Testing and mask rules vary in cities and provinces. They all set their own rules. Since I've been here in Hangzhou testing has gone from every other week, to weekly, to every three days. Each city has their own methods for proving you have tested, so it can be a pain to travel. In Hangzhou we all use the Alipay app for everything. I think it's because the company Alibaba is based here in Hangzhou. We use it to pay for everything, order food for delivery, get a taxi. Evvvveeerrryyyyything.
Every building I enter has a QR code that I have to scan. It pulls up my current health status on my phone that looks like this.
The image you're seeing isn't just an image, it's animated. The clock with the current time counts on the screen indicating that it's not just an image that someone might have edited. It shows how long since I tested (less than one day) and how long until maturity, meaning how long until I need to test again.
Masks? To enter any building you need to show your health code and be wearing a mask. Once inside most people take them off. Actually, that's not quite true. I would say about half take them off. I vasilate. If I'm too hot and it's uncomfortable I'll take it off. It's a bit weird. I've never been told to put on a mask, and I'm not quite sure of the rules. When in doubt I wear it. I think many locals wear them all the time anyway. Here in Hangzhou I'm told the rules are more relaxed, but in Beijing they're very strict. I'm not sure if my plans to travel there this year are in jeopardy. I might have to wait until next year sometime.
Another place you have to wear a mask is a testing area. They're all over the place. I show up. Get in line. They scan my health code. The test is always an oral swab. I'm on my way. My app updates with current information fairly quickly. As I'm approaching the entrance I have to put a mask on. As I'm leaving the place the mask comes off.
There's something else I'm starting to notice a bit more. It's an ugly American attitude, and it makes me uncomfortable. It's rare, but I've witnessed it in the isolated company of only Americans. When groups of expats band together they can get into bitch sessions complaining about Chinese people. I have little doubt they've had some bad experiences, but generalizing their bitching to all the people here is just wrong and I don't like it. I have little doubt that the locals here are capable of the same thing. The complaints generally revolve around being ponted at and identified as foreigners because they fear us. The story goes that they fear we are carrying Covid or Monkeypox. I call this an ugly American thing because I haven't experienced it. At least not yet. I've only been here a short two months. Of course, I'm biased. Perhaps I only see what I want to see?