A Beijing Communist Party secretary recently declared that China’s capital would normalize pandemic prevention controls in the next five years. But, as the public reaction was fervid, censorship took action within the day. 

On June 28, Beijing’s Communist Party chief, Cai Qi, delivered a speech at a briefing on the Party’s city governance. He reflected on the leadership over the past five years and proposed targets for the next five years.

When the mouthpiece for the Chinese regime’s Beijing Daily first reported, he allegedly said, (quote) “In the next five years, Beijing will resolutely, unremittingly, do a good job in normalizing pandemic prevention controls.” (end quote)

He noted that Beijing would promote regular PCR testing and screening at key points by that time. Additionally, it would thoroughly inspect all entrances to residential areas, workplaces, and public institutions.

The statements were perceived as ill-omen by many Chinese. According to screenshots provided by China Digital Times, people lamented the past two years containing the Zero-Covid policy, unreceptive about living with it for a longer period. One person said Cai’s remarks were scarier than a ghost story. 

The hashtag NextFiveYears soon gained top popularity on the mainland platform Weibo. Yet, before citizens could vent their dissatisfaction any further, censorship wiped searches for the hashtag within a day. Beijing Daily’s original article was also modified, with the phrase “In the next five years” removed. Comments from online users were also cleaned up.

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