Footage circulating on the Chinese internet show law enforcers assaulting residents in locked-down Shanghai over apparently breaching the city’s stringent COVID-19 restrictions.
In one video, at least eight people wearing white protective gear, six of whom are labeled as police officers, repeatedly punch and kick a young Shanghai resident on the street outside the Lianyang community in Songjiang district. The man buried his head in his hands while being beaten up, and later runs away from the officers before being chased down and beaten again.
The video, apparently shot from a nearby apartment, went viral on China’s internet.
The Epoch Times contacted the local police station on Rongle East Road asking about the incident. An unnamed officer who answered the phone responded without confirming nor denying the incident, saying that “the pandemic prevention is the top priority [in Shanghai], everything else is less important.”
“What’s the point of reporting the negative side of such an issue?” said the officer, who refused to give further details saying inquiries should be made directly to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau (PSB), the city’s main law enforcement body.
The incident came amid a citywide lockdown that began on March 28 enacted under the Chinese regime’s “zero-COVID” strategy. The measures include mass testing, central quarantining for all positive cases, and strict movement controls on the city’s 26 million residents, barring them from even leaving their front doors other than for COVID-19 tests. The restrictions were meant to be lifted on April 5, but authorities have extended the lockdown without providing an end date.
The Chinese regime has sent more than 10,000 health workers from around the country to the financial hub including 2,000 from the military to assist in mass testing, as the city struggles to stamp out the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
Amid the lockdown, police, healthcare staff, community workers, and volunteers in white protective clothing form the main presence on near-empty streets and communities.
Another video records a similar scene in Chedun town of Songjiang district. In it, a pandemic prevention worker in white pushes a resident to the ground, stomps on his head, and repeatedly kicks his back as the man groans in pain.
A user on China’s Twitter-like Weibo who reposted the video posted an audio recording on the platform on April 5 revealing a call they received from an officer at the Songjiang branch of Shanghai’s PSB, asking for the video to be deleted. In the recording, the officer confirmed the attack occurred in the past two days but refused to reveal the attacker’s identity, the user wrote.
“If I told you he was a police officer, the matter would be even complicated to investigate,” the PSB officer told the user.
Weibo later took down the video, which had triggered public anger online after being viewed over 100,000 times. Some users drew comparisons with the Cultural Revolution when roaming radicalized youths known as “red guards” would harass and assault anyone they deemed as falling afoul of Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong’s prescriptions on political correctness.
Radio Free Asia reported on April 4 that the Chinese regime has recently deployed armed police to patrol communities in Shanghai, spotlighting Beijing’s concern over public anger and potential social unrest.
Another video that surfaced online shows a law enforcer officer in a white protective suit grabbing a Shanghai woman by the arm and escorting her out of her apartment in Songjiang district on April 4. The woman had refused to undergo a nucleic acid test mandated by the city.
The middle-aged resident allegedly failed to implement a “state of emergency” decision made by local authorities, police officers say in the video.
Zhang Li (a pseudonym), confirmed to The Epoch Times that the woman is from Xinfu Kangli, a community in central Shanghai. Zhang herself did not take a COVID-19 test either and worries that she will be taken away like the woman in the video.
“I told [the police] that I have been confined to my home for more than 10 days. Under the country’s rules, I have the right to choose to take the test or not,” Zhang said.
Zhang said she doesn’t want to take a test due to the lack of transparency around the process and fears that officials may fake a positive result to frame her. Moreover, people who test positive are not allowed to self-isolate at home and must be transferred to the city’s quarantine centers which are overcrowded and have poor conditions, she said, naming another reason why she doesn’t want to undergo testing.
“I watched videos of several quarantine centers, some have no power outlets. Once your mobile phone is out of charge, you just don’t expect to send anything to the outside,” she said.
Shanghai authorities on April 7 announced that there were 17,077 new infection cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the city’s total since March to over 90,000. However, the infection data should not be taken at face value since the actual infection rate could be significantly higher, according to experts and residents, who point to the regime’s propensity to downplay information that harms its image.
The strict curbs have triggered widespread complaints from residents, who have pointed to a shortage of food and medicine and lacking access to medical treatment for non-COVID diseases. Parents have also complained about their children being forcibly taken away due to a government quarantine policy.
Despite the growing human and economic toll of Beijing’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 strategy, officials have shown little signs of easing the measures.
China-based author and dissident Huang Jinqiu previously told The Epoch Times that the current lockdown would do more harm than the virus itself, given the mounting suffering experienced by sealed-in residents.
“It simply doesn’t make sense to use such a large-scale, laborious, and economically destructive way to control the epidemic,” Huang Jinqiu said, particularly given that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible but has relatively low hospitalization and mortality rates.
Zhao Fenghua, Luo Ya, Li Shanshan, Yi Ru, and Lin Cenxin contributed to this report.