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#COVIDCatLady, Day 50

Celebrated the end of a friend’s quarantine with some American style pancakes, fried chicken, and chorizo gravy. We ended up spending 4 hours in the diner, and only spent maybe 27% of the time discussing the virus and its impact. My other friends in quarantine are not so lucky… Last week, several of them said they had sensors installed on their doors for the remainder of their home quarantine. If the sensors are triggered, the authorities would be able to track them on their phones.

I was afraid of this. I’ve refrained from criticizing China’s disease control efforts in the past couple of months, because there was already enough of that going around. I know the line I have to walk when discussing the Chinese government after nearly 7 years in Shanghai, especially working in communications and publishing. Now that the Chinese government has “contained” the virus, it will want to maintain its pretty scorecard. And their previous “success” will have emboldened them to take whatever measures necessary to keep the numbers down. They’re likely to repeat the same mistake they had made only two months ago. The green QR code that’s been so important for disease control? If you obtained it on Alipay or WeChat, the two most dominant do-everything apps in China, facial recognition is used to verify, as well as geo-location. Did I mention my phone number was also registered with my photo and ID? And now China has banned all foreign nationals from entering its borders, and this includes people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. And people who are residents. This, even though the majority of imported cases are Chinese nationals (89%). Which means for the foreseeable future, if I leave China, I will not be allowed to return. And whoever hasn’t returned that needs to? Good luck. A friend wrote a poem about diaspora, about how we’re all the diaspora now. I’m a product of Chinese diaspora myself. Three out of my 4 grandparents came to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War, in 1949. My maternal grandfather never saw his first wife and two children again, because no travel was allowed between the two sides for nearly 40 years. This isn’t to say that the separation/isolation now is nothing compared to what our ancestors went through. As much as I get judgmental sometimes about people’s privileges, there’s no hierarchy of pain or suffering. Suffering is suffering, amplifying one and dismissing another alleviates nothing whatsoever. We’re so used to our freedom of movement, sometimes even I forget that only a few years ago, I wasn’t financially able to just… Decide to go on a vacation because I felt like it. For work, yes, or for someone’s wedding. It’s so easy to forget the privileges we’ve acquired.

I don’t feel… Trapped, per se. There’s plenty of Shanghai for me to explore if I wanted to. But there’s a nagging “what if.” What if, what if, what if…


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