Chinese communists, who have zero hesitation to censor and ban even the mildest dissension, have gone into overdrive to silence a viral video called “Voices of April.” Even going so far as to ban “April.”
The nearly six-minute montage shows the frustration and desperation of Shanghai residents in their nearly month-long lockdown. The video features clips of residents shouting for basic necessities, cries of babies separated from parents in quarantine, and even exhausted local officials bemoaning the drastic move.
“Voices of April” debuted just last Friday on the nation’s WeChat platform and is presented in mostly black and white without commentary. It highlights some of the most stressful and confrontational moments since the lockdown of Shanghai’s 26 million residents began almost a month ago. The ending simply reads: “Get better soon, Shanghai.”
Predictably, it drew the ire of the communist censors, who removed it from WeChat on Saturday, only to see it spread like wildfire across other platforms and the internet in general. Officials found themselves playing a version of “whack-a-mole” in trying to silence the video, and temporarily took the drastic step of banning the word “April” from search engines.
The video’s creator, who is only identified by the online ID “Strawberry Fields Forever,” says he is “touched” by the “unexpected” outpouring of messages and sharing of his creation. The creator explains that he saw many people speaking out online after the Shanghai lockdown but their posts disappeared quickly. He adds that “some things should not have happened, and they should not be forgotten.”
However, and likely motivated by an understandable sense of self-preservation, he now asks that people stop sharing it and ask others to do the same.
As the West emerges from COVID-19 restrictions, China is in the grips of new outbreaks as well as the country’s policy of sweeping lockdowns. An estimated 373 million people, a full quarter of the country’s population, have endured lockdowns in recent weeks.
China’s communists react to social media users countering the official government narrative in a predictable way. They are finding, however, that resident’s voices are difficult to silence in the digital age, and even draconian steps such as banning “April” are as futile as they are comical. There is a strong parallel to be made with China’s discomfort with media outside of their control and the consternation among U.S. liberals over not controlling Twitter.