Chinese Communist Party media confirmed on Tuesday that local officials in Guangxi, southern China, organized a public shaming session to parade four men in front of the public who had allegedly violated Chinese coronavirus lockdown protocols.
Videos of the incident, which reportedly occurred in Jingxi city, began circulating on Twitter on Tuesday with little context. Jingxi is in southern China, nearly 1,000 miles from northern Xi’an, the city Chinese Communist Party officials claim is the epicenter of the current national coronavirus outbreak. Authorities locked down Xi’an, a key historical site for ancient Christian archaeology, on the day before Christmas and have since admitted that China is currently enduring its most critical coronavirus outbreak since the virus initially surfaced in Wuhan.
The videos showed Communist Party officials in hazmat suits forcing a crowd to witness their parade, featuring four men also apparently in hazmat suits, but wearing large posters on their chests displaying their faces and alleged crimes. The video shows large crowds of people huddled together to watch the ceremonial humiliation, raising questions regarding Chinese officials’ seriousness regarding social distancing protocol. For those not close enough to read the placards, a government employee on a speaker system read out their alleged crimes to the public.
#文革式防疫，廣西靖西遊街示眾 (Jingxi Youjie Street in Guangxi province was displayed) pic.twitter.com/khtJAAtz0X — 新聞拍案驚奇 (@xwpajq_dayu) December 28, 2021
文革2.0之游街示众，前天发生在广西靖西的事。 (The Cultural Revolution 2.0 paraded the streets to show the public, and the day before yesterday happened in Jingxi, Guangxi.) pic.twitter.com/RG0TsQEjXV — 方舟子 (@fangshimin) December 28, 2021
France 24 reported on Wednesday that a local government publication, Guangxi News, confirmed that the event occurred on Tuesday in the city of Jingxi. According to the outlet, the Communist Party accused the men of human smuggling — illegally transferring Vietnamese citizens into the country through the Guangxi border with the fellow communist country. One of the migrants in question reportedly tested positive for Chinese coronavirus, prompting the shaming.
“Guangxi News said the parade provided a ‘real-life warning’ to the public, and ‘deterred border-related crimes,'” according to France 24.
The incident drew immediate parallels to the acts of the Cultural Revolution, a Mao-era repressive movement that prominently featured public shaming in addition to lynchings and mass executions. Communists feverishly rounded up anyone deemed a “counter-revolutionary” and organized mobs to humiliate, beat, and kill them; the government pressured citizens to compete with each other rounding up alleged dissidents and torturing and killing them in the name of the Chinese Communist Party. Estimates suggest as many as 3 million people endured horrible deaths at the hands of mobs during the Cultural Revolution.
Guangxi was home to some of the most gruesome acts of the Cultural Revolution, including what historians have concluded was “state-sponsored cannibalism.”
According to official Chinese government documents, during one mob lynching in 1968, four alleged dissidents “were beaten to death … their bodies were stripped of flesh, which was taken back to the front of the brigade office to be boiled in two big pots.”
“Twenty or thirty people participated in the cannibalism. Right out in the open, they boiled human flesh in front of the local government offices,” the documents recalled.
The Guangxi incident on Tuesday prompted expressions of terror and disapproval on Weibo, China’s government-controlled social media outlet. While Weibo censors typically act rapidly to shut down any statements of disagreement with the Chinese Communist Party, international outlets documented large numbers of comments on the site lamenting the return of the Cultural Revolution and questioning the necessity of such measures. When Beijing cannot quell public outrage at any given Communist Party atrocity, it typically blames local officials and claims it will soon reprimand them. Shortly after Weibo became home to the flood of complaints, the state-run Beijing News published an editorial asserting that local officials had “gone far beyond the scope of ‘discipline in accordance with the law'” and would be duly punished.
“The measure seriously violates the spirit of the rule of law and cannot be allowed to happen again,” Beijing News reportedly declared.
Yet on Tuesday, the government of Guangxi confirmed on its official website that a national-level “task force” had arrived to the region to take over coronavirus lockdown enforcement duties.
“The State Council inter-agency task force for [Chinese coronavirus] response has dispatched a working group to guide prevention and control efforts in Guangxi as three new locally transmitted [Chinese coronavirus] cases were reported in Dongxing from 7 am on Dec 24 to 12 pm on Dec 25,” the Guangxi government confirmed. “Lei Haichao, head of the Guangxi working group, said that Guangxi shares both land and sea border lines with overseas countries, which brings challenges and pressure to local pandemic prevention and control.”
National-level Communist Party media has retained its focus on the coronavirus situation in Xi’an, which officials have admitted is suffering the worst coronavirus outbreak since the early 2019 initial outbreak in Wuhan, central China. The government propaganda outlet Global Times optimistically predicted on Tuesday, based on no real evidence, that Xi’an would soon “see [a] downward trend of infections.” The Times emphasized Xi’an as the home of the Terracotta Warriors, ancient statues designed during the reign of the first Chinese emperor, rather than the home of the Nestorian Stele, an artifact telling the tale of the first known Christian missionary in China.
Communist officials in Xi’an have banned residents from leaving their homes, including to go out and buy food, raising concerns that many in the city of 13 million will starve. The anti-communist publication the Epoch Times compiled online complaints from Xi’an residents stating they that they were running out of food and “too hungry to sleep,” but local police were making no exceptions — not even to ensure that residents do not die.
“I followed the authorities’ advice not to stock up on food at the beginning of the lockdown,” an unknown alleged Xi’an resident wrote on Weibo, “now, my housing compound won’t let me out, and there is no delivery service.”
The Global Times noted that a similar lockdown in Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic, during which communist officials welded people shut in their homes, lasted 76 days, causing some to question the propaganda outlet’s claims that the Xi’an lockdown would likely end in about a week.