China on Wednesday censored comments from the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) after he publicly criticized the zero-COVID policy advocated by communist leaders.
As COVID-19-related restrictions are lifted around the world, the Asian country struggling with an outbreak of the epidemic continues to impose lockdowns and quarantines as some cases emerge.
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This policy, combined with the near-closure of borders and restricted international flight connections, is causing growing anger in China.
Especially in Shanghai (East), whose 25 million residents, locked up since the beginning of April, are complaining about supply problems and fear being sent to quarantine centers with arbitrary consolation.
In this regard, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in unusually critical remarks on China on Tuesday, considered the zero-Covid policy “unsustainable”.
“Switching to a different strategy is very important,” he stressed.
With zero-COVID strongly championed by top communist leaders, including President Xi Jinping, censors quickly stepped in to stem the spread of such pronouncements.
On the microblogging site Weibo, the hashtags #Tedros and #OMS stopped delivering results on Wednesday.
Users of the ultra-popular social network WeChat cannot republish or broadcast an article from the official UN account published on the platform, which mentions the criticism of the WHO chief.
It remains possible to discuss the topic online with one of his contacts or to send screenshots of articles or tweets mentioning these remarks on his WeChat wall.
“I humbly ask: will our government listen to the recommendations of the WHO Director-General?” writes a Weibo user.
The Chinese press, for its part, is silent.
The former editor-in-chief of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, Hu Xijin, who is very influential on the Internet, considers the criticism of the WHO to be “unimportant”.
“If they say the Chinese method is not sustainable, they should find a more effective and sustainable method. But they don’t give!” he wrote to his 24 million followers on Weibo.
“The WHO will not take responsibility if China relaxes (its health policy) and many people die.”
Going zero Covid could lead to 1.6 million deaths in the country, according to a study by researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai, published in the journal Nature on Tuesday.