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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: Surrounded by walls of glass

A cleaner wears torn protective gear. Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.

The following post is the eleventh in a series of diaries written by independent filmmaker and feminist scholar Ai Xiaoming and feminist activist Guo Jing. Both are living in Wuhan at the initial center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the links to the first, second,third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth part of the series.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

This installment was written between March 11 and March 14, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Guo Jing: March 11, 2020

今天,人们还在接力转发《发口肖子的人》,版本越来越多,英文版、日文版、越南语版、盲文版、甲骨文版、16进制编码版、摩斯电码版、空白版……这是封锁下的艺术,简直是一种世界奇观。人们转发的不再是文章本身,而是在表达情绪,有对审查的愤怒,有对发哨人的敬佩,有坚持发声的不屈。

People keep sharing the article “The whistleblower” today, and we have it in different languages: English, Japanese, Vietnamese, braille, oracle bone script, Hexadecimal code, Morse code, and blank verison with no word… This is a collective work of art in the lockdown, like a world wonder. People are not only forwarding the article itself, but their emotions — their anger towards censorship, their respect towards the whistleblowers, and their insistence on speaking out.

[Editors Note: “The whistleblower” is an interview with Dr. Ai Fen who was the first person to distribute the lab report on the novel coronavirus. The article was quickly taken offline by government web censors and people started distributing the posts in different language versions to circumvent the censors.]

Ai Xiaoming: March 11, 2020

我的封城日记没那么好运,接连被连刪了两篇。我在公号上至少传了十多篇文章,一半不见天日。有关博客,我先后做了三个,早已去向不明。有的文章,连一个晚上都没有活过。不能得到众多的点赞就算了,这样耗费一个又一个白天黑夜,所为何来?
我家有个小平台,平时与客厅相隔的玻璃门都开着。有一天我不知门已关上,兴冲冲地闯过去。结果?倒退五步抱头歪嚎。
每天写公号的感觉,就是这么回事。你就算一身是胆,胸怀绝技,四面透明的玻璃幕墙罩着你。你去撞,只管撞……

My diary about the Wuhan lockdown is not that lucky. Two of them were deleted one after another. I have submitted more than 10 articles using my Wechat public account, but half of them have failed to publish. I have opened three blogs, and all of them have been taken offline. Some of my articles did not even survive one night. I don't expect them to get a lot of attention, but what's the point of spending day after day writing and uploading articles that won't even survive online?

I have a small balcony at home. I usually keep the glass door between the balcony and the living room open. One day, I was not aware that door was closed and bumped onto it. The result? I stumbled five steps back, held my head and moaned.

This is how I feel every day when I struggle with my Wechat public account. Even if you are courageous you are surrounded by walls made of glass. You try smashing through them, but they are always there.

Guo Jing: March 13, 2020

People picked up delivered food at the gate. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

封城前,偶尔到野外露营或者去郊外游玩,静谧中的鸟语花香会让人欣喜。现在每天在鸟叫声中醒来,却没有轻松愉悦的心情
昨天小区群里有人发了肯德基的团购,我有点心动。可是,家里的菜都还没吃完,坏了太可惜,就想着先把家里的菜吃完。

Before the lockdown, I would sometimes go camping or hiking. I enjoyed being surrounded by birds, flowers and nature. But now when I hear birds singing in the morning, I am not in the mood to enjoy it  anymore. Yesterday someone initiated group buying from Kentuckey Fried Chicken. It was tempting. However, I still have some vegetables at home. It would be a pity if they were to rot so I decided to eat the vegetables first.

Guo Jing: March 14, 2020

有个朋友把我拉进一个群,群里的人在分享最新的交通管制信息,交流“离开”的经验。湖北除武汉外的县市开始放松了一些管控,已经有人迫不及待地想要离开,有人为了复工,有人为了团聚,有人只是想离开。当然,也有人想回湖北的,但很多火车票不卖到湖北地区的票。
离开要有通行证和健康证明,可是各个县市乃至村子的开放程度和政策不一样,有的通行证只能在市里活动,有的地方开通了城际巴士,有的地方可以自己驾车走高速出省。
出了湖北,能不能进入别的省市又是一个问题,进入也需要工作单位或社区开的接收证明。有的省份不承认在支付宝上申请的绿码(健康码),有人开车上了高速,到了目的地却下不了高速,去江西、四川、重庆的群友都遇到了这样的情况,他们被迫原路返回。
有的地方可以接受进入,却要求隔离14天。温州、台州、广州要求集中隔离,自己出钱,每人每天300元;东莞、杭州要求集中隔离14天,政府出钱。
没有统一而稳定的政策,人们的出行很难有保障,往往只能自己亲身试验,试验就会付出一些不必要的成本。
昨天12点多睡觉,楼道里有窸窸窣窣的声音,搞得我半天才入睡。早上7点多,楼道里又时不时地传来开门声,我就被吵醒。我的小区旁边正在修建地铁,封城前,晚上工地上也会有轰隆隆的机器声,可我基本不受影响。现在我的感官似乎时刻在寻找信息,很难关停
有个上海的朋友说,自从她家附近有人确诊之后,她老是听到救护车的声音

My friend added me to an online group where people share the most up-to-date traffic information and their experience of “leaving” Hubei Province. Aside from Wuhan, some cities and counties in Hubei Province hae started to loosed their control. Many people cannot wait to leave, because they want to return to work or to reunite with their families and friends. Some people just want to leave. Of course, there are people planning to come back to Hubei Province, too. However, many train stations do not sell tickets coming into the Hubei area.

If we want to leave, we need to have a pass and a health certificate. However, every city, county and village has their own set of rules regarding people's mobility. Some pass holders are only allowed to move inside the city. Some pass holders can take the intercity buses. Some pass holders are allowed to drive their cars on the highways to leave the province.

Even if we leave Hubei Province, whether we can enter another province or city is still in question. People need to obtain a certificate issued by a business unit or a residential district to enter a province or city. Some provinces do not recognize the green code (healthy code) on Alipay. Some people can drive on the highways, but they are not allowed to leave the highways when they arrive at their destinations. Several people in the group have had this kind of experience when they went to Jiangxi, Sichuan, and Chongqing. They are forced to drive back.

Some places allow people to enter, but they needed to be quarantined for 14 days. Wenzhou, Taizhou, and Guangzhou request centralized quarantine, and people need to pay a RMB 300 yuan (US$ 42.5 dollars) quarantine fee per day. Dongguan and Hangzhou also request centralized quarantine for 14 days, but their governments pay for the quarantine.
If there is no standardized policy, it is difficult to plan ahead for travel. People have pay for the cost of trial and error.

Last night when I went to bed, at around 12, there was some noise in the hallway. I had difficulty falling asleep because of the noise. This morning at around 7, I woke up to the sounds of doors opening in the hallway. Before the lockdown, the metro station near my community was being renovated. The construction was very noisy at night, but I was not affected. Now my sensory organs are hyperactive in search for external information, and it is difficult to turn them off.

A friend in Shanghai told me that she always hears the sounds of ambulances after someone in her area turns out to be COVID-19 positive.

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