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Covid-19 in China

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?

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3 comentários

Mike Durkee
Mike Durkee
07 de out. de 2022

The thought of having an app do all your business transactions would send the "christian nationalism" folks in a tail spin... the entire 'cashless society' and end of times etc etc blah blah blah... with that being said I have never ordered anything from my phone, my home computer yep! (twice today in fact). I have to admit that it is an intriguing thought... for me it was a stretch of my trust when entering the Maiden concert last week with my phone out open to the paperless ticket... I think Steve is correct in that the younger folks would be onboard with it but those of us with more grey hair may drag our feet a bit. Change is…


Very interesting. I don't know if we could get Americans to use one app for so many things. Maybe the 35 and below crowd, but definitely not older ones. Heck, Holz won't even use Venmo. Do you notice this attitude among those from other countries or just the Americans?

David Shick!
David Shick!
04 de out. de 2022
Respondendo a

The expats here love the use of apps for everything. They rave about the convenience. There are a few different ways to pay for stuff using apps, but Alipay dominates here due to Alibaba reigning in this city. I'm thinking the dynamic you see in American is isolated, well, at least different than what you see here. People in the states fear their government and are vocal about it. The people here in China that fear their government don't have an avenue to voice dissent. Of note, I've been here for more than two months and I've never paid for anything (not even once) using anything other than my phone. Hell, even the vending machine downstairs in our apartment building…

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