Chinese woman held for claiming Beijing lockdown imminent

Kyodo News

Posted at May 13 2022 04:24 PM

Health workers wearing protective suits walk along a road in Beijing, China, on May 11, 2022. Mark R. Cristino, EPA-EFE
Health workers wearing protective suits walk along a road in Beijing, China, on May 11, 2022. Mark R. Cristino, EPA-EFE

A Chinese woman has been accused of spreading false rumors and held by authorities for posting a message online saying Beijing would soon come under a citywide COVID-19 lockdown, Chinese media reported Friday.

The message rapidly circulated after being posted as an "emergency notice" on Thursday, prompting many in the Chinese capital to stock up on food and daily necessities.

The city government later Thursday denied plans for a citywide lockdown.

But many people in the capital were still lining up at supermarkets and convenience stores on Friday.

The message on a social media platform said that Beijing would be locked down or put into a "quiet period" with takeaway and delivery services suspended in the city, according to the media reports, which said the post caused serious social upheaval.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, a spokesman of the Beijing government denied the lockdown rumors and said it is unnecessary for residents to hoard food.

Beijing has enough supplies of goods and commodities for people during the COVID-19 pandemic and takeaway and delivery services will not be stopped, the spokesman said, urging city residents to stay calm.

"The overall number of COVID-19 cases in Beijing is at a low level, but we must know the low level came from the great efforts Beijing residents made to actively control the pandemic," the Global Times, a tabloid of China's ruling Communist Party, quoted an expert as saying.

On Thursday, the Beijing government required people to work from home on Friday and stay home this weekend as well as to receive PCR tests every day in 12 districts of the city.

China has maintained all-encompassing COVID-19 constraints for over two years since the start of the pandemic, with the leadership of President Xi Jinping seen as eager to show that it has brought the coronavirus pandemic under complete control.

Speculation is rife that the Communist Party will not ease the enforcement of the zero-COVID policy until the end of its twice-a-decade congress in the fall, at which Xi is set to secure a controversial third term as leader.

Beijing has recorded around 1,000 new COVID cases in total since April 22.