mandag 10. februar 2020

China's massive security state is being used to crack down on the Wuhan virus

The camera hovers just above the elderly woman's head, as she looks up, her face becomes confused and worried. "Yes auntie, this is the drone speaking to you," a voice booms out. "You shouldn't walk about without wearing a mask." The woman hurries off, occasionally looking over her shoulder as the drone continues to shout instructions: "You'd better go back home and don't forget to wash your hands."

This is China under quarantine in 2020. In another video promoted by state media, a police drone orders men sitting at an outdoor mahjong table to "stop playing and leave the site as soon as possible." "Don't look at the drone," it says, as a small child glances up curiously. "Ask your father to leave immediately."

As Chinese authorities struggle to contain the deadly Wuhan coronavirus, they are turning to a sophisticated authoritarian playbook honed over decades of crackdowns on dissidents and undesirables to enforce quarantines and lockdowns across the country. This has been accompanied by a shift in the narrative around the virus. It has moved from a story of an entire country pulling together in a time of crisis to a darker tale of bad actors undermining efforts to keep people safe and spreading the virus through their own irresponsibility.