China launches a censorship blitz for the lunar new year to put an end to Covid “rumors.”
For the lunar new year celebration, Chinese cyber authorities have ordered a crackdown on internet censorship to prevent “gloomy attitudes” brought on by viral “rumors.”
It occurs at a time when health forecasting company Airfinity predicted that more than 600,000 people had most certainly passed away after zero-Covid limits were dropped in December, which is ten times the number of deaths that Chinese authorities have formally acknowledged.
The “Spring Festival online improvement” program, which will run for a month, will target people who are disseminating what the authorities consider to be “rumors” regarding the proliferation of Covid and patient experiences.
“In-depth repair of inaccurate information and other concerns to prevent gloomy attitudes,” according to the national cyber administration.
The examination and punishment of “internet rumors relating to the pandemic” and “fabricating patient experiences,” as well as the creation or dissemination of phony virus remedies, were especially included. The project would “avoid deceiving the public and igniting social hysteria,” according to the release.
Social media platforms have been flooded with personal accounts of people who have contracted Covid, had difficulty accessing healthcare or medicine or lost elderly relatives to the illness. The government faced unusually high amounts of online criticism as a result of the personal experiences of many people clashing with the official narrative that the outbreak was under control and the response was “scientific led.”
Health officials reported an updated death toll of nearly 60,000 people on Saturday. Only people who passed away in hospitals were included in the figure. Prior to early December, when the zero Covid policy was abandoned, the government had only acknowledged 5,000 Covid deaths overall since the pandemic started. Contrary to extensive estimates of mortality, infection rates of up to 90% of the population were reported in some major cities.
Foreign criticism of its Covid reaction and claims that it is not being honest with data make the ruling Communist party government extremely sensitive. Chinese doctor Li Wenliang’s early epidemic warnings were at first brushed off as rumors and penalized.
State media referred to more recent coverage of the widespread outbreak that occurred after limits were lifted as a “China-bashing carnival.”
However, it came after warnings of future diseases spreading over the lunar new year as hundreds of millions of people travel across the nation. Health experts now declare that the current wave of infections has peaked. It was advised against visiting elderly relatives unless absolutely essential.
According to independent forecaster Airfinity, projections of cases and fatalities in China have increased as a result of improved modeling. According to the report, the number of fatalities since December has increased from the initial estimate of 437,000 to 608,000.
One “bigger and more severe” infection wave, with as many as 62 million new cases over the 14-day holiday period, was also predicted instead of the organization’s original projection of two subsequent infection waves.
During the Lunar New Year Festival on January 26, the number of deaths is expected to reach a high of 36,000 per day. This is more than our earlier prediction of 25,000 fatalities per day at its highest point, it stated.
One larger wave, as opposed to two smaller ones, would put more strain on hospitals and cemeteries, possibly leading to a higher case fatality rate.
In the wake of the zero Covid policy shift, China’s censors have looked to struggle to manage critical social media discussion. The new initiative demonstrates a redoubled commitment to quelling criticism and ensuring that the Party’s image and ideals are reflected in China’s online community.
One Chinese Twitter user said, “After all this, they will say you have to be glad, it will be politically incorrect if you are not pleased.”
Another person said, “It appears that the best course of action is to ‘cover your mouth’.” “I have nothing but praise to offer.”
The Spring festival program also targets the online glorification of excessive consumption and luxury and maintains a continuing assault on excessive fan culture and unlawful gambling.
It gave numerous instances of people purposefully flaunting their “rich lifestyle” through extravagant dinners, year-end bonuses, enormous red envelopes of cash (a customary New Year’s gift), and pricey gifts.
Additionally, according to the administration, it will “examine and deal with the deliberate displaying of images of feasting and drinking during the Spring Festival, and promoting expensive and wasteful information.”