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voice of april is a video containing edited audio clips that show the reality of a Covid-stricken Shanghai where residents struggle with a sense of helplessness. The video seeped into every corner of WeChat, but soon after it disappeared.

On Friday, April 22, a video was shared on Chinese social media and when evening fell, it suddenly ended up on everyone’s smartphone screen.

voice of april (四月之声) is a compilation of real audio clips of conversations recorded in Shanghai throughout April, providing a moving and heartbreaking account of what the people of Shanghai have been through since the start of the Covid crisis. in their city.

Early Saturday morning Beijing time, the voice of april (四月之声) video had seeped into every corner of WeChat. Shortly after, he disappeared.

The video, directed by someone named “Cary”, appears to have first appeared online Friday with the following message:

A month after the outbreak of the epidemic in Shanghai, I saw too many voices coming online which then quickly disappeared. Over time, I became a little insensitive, but some things shouldn’t have happened. Since they did, they must not be forgotten. Too many of our countrymen have suffered in ways that could have been avoided. I made a video, as objective and realistic as possible, like a record to remember the voices of April, and I hope everyone will be fine.”

The video in question, embedded below, is nearly six minutes long. (Update: Here is a link to a version with English subtitles.)

He begins his story on March 15, just a day before Shanghai introduces its so-called ‘grid screening’ strategy – meaning that every resident of a key Covid area of ​​the city would take two nucleic acid tests. within 48 hours. On this day, the total number of Covid cases since the start of the epidemic in early March was 1156. The audio is real – as all the extracts are – and was recorded during an official press conference on epidemic prevention and control in Shanghai.

“At the moment, Shanghai does not have a lockdown, and there is no need for a lockdown,” the spokesperson can be heard saying, as the video shows aerial footage of Shanghai city.

The video then jumps to March 26, when the total number of cases since the start of the outbreak had risen to 12,527 (asymptomatic and symptomatic combined), with new cases added daily being 2,676.

Still, Shanghai officials can be heard saying there will “never be a lockdown” in the city, suggesting that Shanghai is not just important for Shanghai, it is important for the economy of the whole country.

The video then displays its title page: voice of april.

The video, showing aerial footage of Shanghai for the full six minutes, then continues with snippets of audio fragments from early April, with concerned residents calling local authorities to express concerns about their personal situation after the announcement. sudden onset of a progressive lockout. in Shanghai on March 27.

Through dozens of audio clips, we hear the voices of residents, delivery drivers, community workers, parents, children, Covid patients, pet owners, volunteers, and more.

In doing so, through the words of those who witnessed it, voice of april raises the questions that have been on the minds of so many over the past 25 days or more. People in Shanghai are hungry; food supplies are wasted due to mismanagement and poor logistics; parents and children separated in quarantine facilities; people trying unsuccessfully to get emergency care for a medical emergency in their family; cancer patients unable to return home after receiving chemotherapy in hospital; Covid patients arriving at centralized quarantine locations that have no supplies or beds; a desperate mother who finds herself calling neighbors to get medicine for her sick child in the middle of the night; pet owners in tears because their dog was killed by anti-epidemic agents.

“The virus doesn’t kill people, it’s hunger,” a voice can be heard saying.

“Distribute supplies!” Distribute supplies! Distribute the supplies! a group of people are heard shouting.

Through the audio clips, it becomes clear that it’s not just the residents who have suffered throughout this ordeal – it’s the whole city, including its volunteers and community workers who are equally powerless to help others. because of the policies in place.

The video ends with a black and white screen showing the characters “上海, 早日康复” (Shànghǎi, zǎorì kāngfù): “Shanghai, get well soon.”

Shortly after the video went viral, Wechat and Weibo users found they were no longer able to upload the file, and soon all links to the video ended up leading to a deleted post.” 404″.

The censorship apparently only added fuel to the fire. “[You want] war? It’s the war ! some said, while others posted images protesting the censorship: “You can’t censor the unity of the people of Shanghai!”

Immediately, netizens began offering various alternative ways to refer to the title of the video to circumvent censorship, suggesting that there can never be a “zero policy” when it comes to silencing the voices of the people.

However, alternative hashtags and expressions were also quickly taken offline, such as the hashtag “The Voices of Shanghai” (#上海之声#).

“You can’t treat everything deleted as something that never happened,” wrote one Weibo user. Another commenter said: “What are you deleting? For what reason? What is so terrible for us to know that you came so quickly to censor it?

“It’s just a report of real events, what’s the point of censoring it?” Originally we were just sad, not angry. Now it is a revolt of the people. A cover-up only makes things worse.

Probably the only time during China’s Covid era where there has been an outpouring of online anger comparable to this example is when Li Wenliang died – the doctor who was first silenced when he attempted to to warn others about the novel coronavirus outbreak (learn more here). His death and the censorship surrounding it have also led to millions of people venting their frustrations online. Censorship, as in this case, only added fuel to the fire.

A word that many people comment on the voice of april use of the video after seeing it is “helplessness”: “I watched the voice of april. By gathering all the helplessness, this world seems even more helpless.

“Tonight is the evening of erased voices [404之声]wrote one Weibo user.

For context:
– Growing frustrations as the Covid crisis began in the city
– Children and parents separated for isolation
– Pet dog killed by anti-epidemic worker
– Deplorable conditions in quarantine places

Update, read also: Voices of April, The Day After.

For more articles on Covid-19 related topics on Chinese social media, click here.

By Manya Koetsewith contributions from Miranda Barnes

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