BEIJING (Reuters) — “It’s fake! It’s fake!” residents high up in an apartment complex in the central Chinese city of Wuhan shouted down as a senior government official led an inspection tour below of how people were coping during the coronavirus lockdown.
In video clips, amid jeers and yelling, some residents accused employees of their residential complex of staging the delivery of groceries to households merely to coincide with the visit of Vice Premier Sun Chunlan.
“Fake, fake?” “It’s all fake,” “It’s a show put on for you. Everything is faked!” a number of people shouted.
Others cried: “What you are seeing is fake” and “They are taking advantage of the people to put up a show.”
While some expressions of anger against local-level officials during the epidemic have been permitted on China’s heavily censored social media, the videos were a rare glimpse of unscripted anger involving a top central government official.
"It's fake! It's fake!" shout residents of a community in #COVID19 epicenter Wuhan in a viral video on China’s social media. They have accused property management of cheating them by only appearing to provide promised necessities. Investigation is underway https://t.co/kzq4gbB4RM pic.twitter.com/0ujObfedR8
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 6, 2020
The residents are still confined to their homes under measures imposed in February to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which was traced to a market that was illegally selling wildlife in the city.
By mid-February residents were not permitted to shop for provisions, and the local government promised to ensure mass deliveries of groceries.
While those deliveries have been made in many places, the protesters were saying the delivery during Sun’s visit was a set-up.
The clip, shot by an unknown individual, went viral on Chinese social media, and was even allowed by censors to trend on the top 10 searches on Friday morning on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.
More people shout at the deputy prime minister of the Communist Party of China, came to Kaiyuan Mansion in Qingshan District of Wuhan "it's fake!" pic.twitter.com/wRDzmvPsx0
— Harry Chen PhD (@PhdParody) March 5, 2020
The official People’s Daily acknowledged the veracity of the footage and even posted one to its English-language Twitter feed before removing it on Friday.
The government group, led by Sun, said it would investigate the matter thoroughly, and “eliminate formalism and bureaucracy,” the People’s Daily reported.
Wuhan city officials have sent people door-to-door to investigate immediately, the article said.
Why Wuhan residents are shouting, “It’s all fake”
For many citizens, the video post provided a release.
“It’s fake it’s fake! They’ve shouted what is in the hearts of many of us citizens,” said one user on Weibo. “Finally, there’s someone saying what I’ve wanted to say for years.”
“Everything is faked!” #Wuhan resident shouting out loudly when Sun Chunlan, vice premier of #China inspecting a residential area during #CoronavirusOutbreak 近日，中共国务院副总理孙春兰视察#武汉 青山区中建开元公馆小区，封城后被困在家里40多天的业主们愤怒高喊：“全部都是假的!” pic.twitter.com/vjnGauhMG6
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) March 6, 2020
China has blamed and removed dozens of local-level officials as anger built up over its early handling of the spread of the new coronavirus that has killed which has killed more than 3,300 people globally, mostly in China.
Last month, the death from coronavirus of a doctor who had been reprimanded for issuing an early warning about the disease triggered a rare public outpouring of anger against the government online.
(Reporting by Huizhong Wu; additional reporting by Cate Cadell; editing by Tony Munroe and Alison Williams; Pluralist contributed to this report.)