To Tame Coronavirus, Mao-Style Social Control Blankets China

Despite their high-tech tools, the authorities are mainly relying on a flood of workers to keep hundreds of millions of people from coming in contact with outsiders.

The New York Times
Date: Feb. 15, 2020
By: Raymond Zhong and Paul Mozur

Volunteers disinfecting a housing complex in Taizhou, a city in China’s Zhejiang Province that has had many coronavirus infections.Credit…China Daily/Reuters

SHANGHAI — China has flooded cities and villages with battalions of neighborhood busybodies, uniformed volunteers and Communist Party representatives to carry out one of the biggest social control campaigns in history.

The goal: to keep hundreds of millions of people away from everyone but their closest kin.

The nation is battling the coronavirus outbreak with a grass-roots mobilization reminiscent of Mao-style mass crusades not seen in China in decades, essentially entrusting front line epidemic prevention to a supercharged version of a neighborhood watch.

Housing complexes in some cities have issued the equivalents of paper hall passes to regulate how often residents leave their homes. Apartment buildings have turned away their own tenants if they have come from out of town. Train stations block people from entering cities if they cannot prove they live or work there. In the countryside, villages have been gated off with vehicles, tents and other improvised barriers.    [FULL  STORY]

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