Over two years after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the comments section under his last Weibo post, which has become known as “China’s Wailing Wall,” continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly archive and translate Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments below.
This month, many of the commenters wrote about long lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities, lockdown fatigue, stints in quarantine, and loved ones lost to COVID-19. Some bemoaned the fact that for very young children growing up during the pandemic, this reality is all they’ve ever known. Others discussed the state of the economy, the challenge of finding or keeping jobs, and the stress of keeping up with bills, mortgages, and car payments. There were references to current events such as the deaths of 53 people when a building collapsed in Changsha, Hunan Province; to viral content including a lockdown-video-derived meme about this being “the last generation”; and to recent online debate about whether or not this era could give rise to a new Lu Xun.
The following Wailing Wall comments, selected and translated by CDT editors, were originally posted during the first two weeks of May 2022 (May 1-7 and May 8-15).
runnermore：🦠 isn’t frightening; what’s frightening is ignorance and prejudice.
Lacey_Shan：Dr. Li, will there be a Lu Xun for this era?
[…] 从从从德德德德：Dr. Li, I’ve been locked down in Shanghai for 48 days now, and my patience with this pandemic is wearing thin. The stress of making payments on my mortgage, car loan, and all the rest is so overwhelming I can hardly breathe. It has also really shaken my faith. There are people around here profiteering [from the zero-COVID policy], and I have to wonder: what kind of people are we protecting? I’m really confused. I hope you’re doing well in heaven. 🙏
小田同学yq：I finally ended up in a fangcang [makeshift quarantine hospital]. Every day, I tremble with fear. I get the feeling that it’s hard for everyone else here, too. It’s freezing at night, and very hot during the day. I don’t know when this will all be over, but it’s got to be soon, right? It’s going to be alright, isn’t it?
[…] 一条饿龙z：Dr. Li, why have our eyes been blindfolded, our mouths covered? Why can’t we see the suffering of others, why can’t we speak?
百倍心跳：Dr. Li, I went to see [Hangzhou’s] West Lake today. I’m leaving Hangzhou to go live with my boyfriend in another city. Also, a building collapsed in Changsha and 53 lives were lost. Most of them were medical students, still in the flower of youth. I hope you’re at peace, and I hope those young women who died can rest in peace, too.
[…] 惪恴悳棏：Dr. Li, youth only lasts for a few years, and the pandemic has occupied three of those years. No one knows when the pandemic will end. These college years ought to be the best years of my life. They shouldn’t be spent like this, isolated in a dorm taking online classes, or waking up early every day to take nucleic acid tests. I moved to this new city for college, and I should be out there exploring it, not cooped up inside this tiny bit of space … I’m so sick of this pandemic.
[…] 李_芊烨：It’s 2022, and the epidemic isn’t over, nor does it mean to end. Every day I wake up to news about new variants or mutations, or about countries that are choosing to coexist with the virus. In some Chinese cities, everyone’s working together to carry out pandemic protection and control measures. In other cities, it’s just disgusting: the pandemic has brought out some real ugliness. A five-year-old child, living with the pandemic since his third birthday, heard some adults saying that in the past, you didn’t need to wear a mask to go outside. He asked, “Weren’t you afraid of the virus when you were kids?” Sigh. 😔 There has to be an end to this, surely?
[…] 无可奈何wghh：Some nights, when I’m missing my mother, I come here to visit you. [Chinese]
半烟云：Dr. Li, two patients came to our hospital today. They live in Fengxian district [in Shanghai]. Every time they go to see a doctor and return home, they have to “stay silent” [isolate] in their housing complex for five days before they can go out again. Otherwise, the couple would have to live in their car. The man’s surgery was originally scheduled for the twentieth, so the doctors decided to move up the date. I felt sad hearing about this. 😣 This world is so miserable.
__半天：Dr. Li, I’ve been quarantined in Shanghai for almost two months. I can accept higher food prices and waking up to daily nucleic-acid antibody tests. But my wife’s about to have a baby, and there are no car rentals or direct high-speed trains, and it’s hard to buy a ticket. I can’t take this anymore.
[…] Liam白菜3：They’re planting flowers along empty roads. Our housing complex was closed for 50 days, and other than collecting the garbage, nothing’s been tidied up. There’s dog shit and kitchen rubbish scattered all over the ground. It’s been hot lately, and everything’s infested with flies—the risk of other infectious diseases shouldn’t be overlooked. But now it’s all about “zero-COVID,” and no one gives a shit about people’s livelihoods.
[…] 就想让你好好的：Brother Liang, I’m so poor, my school is always exploiting us, and I don’t know what to do. But here I am, standing at the podium with my measly 2000-yuan [$300 U.S. dollars] monthly salary and telling my students to study hard because knowledge can change their lives for the better.
[…] 像风像雨又像海1027_269: Teacher Li, my mom passed away from COVID-19. I’m the only one left in the family. My mom was a really, really kind person. If you see her, please tell her I love her.
[…] 山中清景：It’s been more than half a year since my last comment. During that time, I officially came out to my family. The result was that they cut me off completely. Although the future is uncertain, I have no regrets.
[…] Harrison-Hong：I had my first Weibo account for ten years, but because I reposted and made comments about your Weibo account, I was banned for life. I completely gave up on this whole bastard Weibo thing. I only signed up for this new account so I could appeal [Weibo’s decision]. Recently, the pandemic has turned serious again. It’s made me think of you again.
[…] frhsm: Sorry, bro! Haven’t been here for months. I’ve changed jobs again in my forties, for the sake of my son and my family, and it’s really been tough!
[…] 漏沙5871：There was a positive COVID case in the same building as my company, and all the company employees were put in centralized quarantine for 14 days, minimum. As a small business owner, I’ll probably have to shut down the company. I just hired three new employees in March. Their last company closed, and now they’ll be looking for work again, but I have no choice. In April, I dismissed an employee who was in his probationary period. He cried and told me he’d been unemployed for four months, and asked if I’d let him stay on at half salary, but I couldn’t. There was nothing I could do. I have to make a living, too.
[…] DAWN_QIN：the last generation. [Chinese]
CDT’s Wailing Wall archive, and selections here, compiled by Tony Hu.