Three years of zero-COVID lockdowns in China served as a wake-up call to many Chinese people.
“The pandemic in the past three years made me see how evil the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is and how it has been persecuting us Chinese,” said Zheng Min, a Chinese woman from the coastal city of Qingdao in eastern Shandong Province.
Ms. Zheng and her brother’s family were living over a thousand miles away from each other during the pandemic—Ms. Zheng and her daughter lived in Qingdao; her brother’s family lived with their parents in Nanning, the capital city of China’s southern Guangxi region.
The stringent lockdowns impacted Chinese families throughout the country. The two siblings and their parents were confined within their dwellings, short of food, and subjected to constant mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing. Their mother was pushed down to the ground by pandemic control staffers when she tried to get out of her home to shop for food.
“Too many things happened during the three years of lockdowns,” said Ms. Zheng in a recent interview with the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times. “The Chinese Communist Party has been suppressing the Chinese people and has done many inhumane things to us.”
The whole family decided to flee China. The family of eight members arrived in the United States before Christmas last year after traveling for two months through several countries.
“We have run out of this hell, which we’ll never return,” said Ms. Zheng. Now that she lives in the United States, she still feels a chill when looking back at their life in China, according to Ms. Zheng.
Lacking Food, Mandatory Regular PCR TestsLike other Chinese people throughout the country, Ms. Zheng and her family suffered severely from the strict lockdowns.
Life was hard when they could not go out to buy themselves food, Ms. Zheng said.
In Qingdao where Ms. Zheng and her child were living, a fever case at a local primary school triggered a sudden citywide lockdown. The two lived on a small bag of rice and some pickled and salted vegetables—the only food they had at home—for over ten days.
Regular mandatory PCR tests were another nightmare for Ms. Zheng.
“We had to take PCR tests every other day because the green health code on our mobile phone was valid for only two days,” said Ms. Zheng.
“We didn’t have any freedom or dignity at all,” Ms. Zheng said.
Shanghai, a major metropolis in China, imposed a two-month stringent lockdown from April to June last year, and it was reported that residents starved for food and patients struggled to get necessary medical treatment.
Mother Injured by Quarantine StaffMs. Zheng’s parents lived with her brother’s family in Nanning, the capital city of China’s southern Guangxi Region.
Ms. Zheng’s mother once attempted to go out to get food for the family after a long lockdown, but the quarantine staff outside pushed the elderly down to the ground, causing a compound fracture in her left wrist. Ms. Zheng's father tried to help his wife but was pressed down to the ground as well.
Ms. Zheng’s elder brother, unable to intervene, could only record what was happening with his mobile phone. As a result, he was knocked down by the police, handcuffed, and taken to the police station for interrogation for nearly a day. He was forced to delete all the videos before he was able to leave the police station.
The family had to pay all the medical costs for the elderly woman by themselves, and there was no way of appealing for justice.
“In China, we have to pray that we can stay safe, that we won’t get into trouble, that we won’t run into difficulties,” Ms. Zheng said, adding that China’s law is “unjust” and that the communist regime is “authoritarianism.”
No Privacy, No Dignity, No SafetyMs. Zheng’s sister-in-law planned to go and visit her relatives in her hometown in northern China. Soon after she had purchased her plane ticket, the village head in her hometown called her, warning her that she should take PCR tests before getting back to her home village.
Ms. Zheng’s sister-in-law had no idea how the village head came to know about her flight because she booked it without telling anyone.
She wanted to stay anonymous in the interview for fear of retaliation by the communist regime and its long-arm policing in the United States.
“I feel that the monitoring and tracking follow me everywhere I go,” the sister-in-law said in the interview.
She once rejected the local police who tried to install a monitoring app—supposed "anti-fraud software"—on her mobile phone. She told the police that her phone didn’t have enough internal memory.
The police just grabbed her phone and checked it to see if she was lying. She was able to get away without any punishment because the phone’s internal memory was indeed too small for that app to be installed.
Ms. Zheng added that teachers in her child’s school also required that parents install the so-called anti-fraud app on their phones and then upload a screenshot to the teacher to verify that the app had indeed been installed.
The school also handed out various kinds of investigative questionnaires for children and parents to fill in, according to Ms. Zheng. “The school wants to know the occupations and incomes of the parents. It also wants to know the blood type of the child,” Ms. Zheng said.
She was scared by a report of the disappearance of Hu Xinyu, a 15-year-old student who vanished from his boarding school in eastern China's Jiangxi Province as he walked from his dorm to an evening study session. She was worried about the safety of herself and her family.
An alarming number of children and teenagers are reportedly missing in China, and worried parents fear forced organ harvesting.
“My brother and I could see the social environment getting worse, the economy declining, and no hope for our children and our own life,” she said. The whole family—the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Zheng, Ms. Zheng, Ms. Zheng’s brother and his wife, and three children—left China in October 2022.
Striving for China’s DemocracyMs. Zheng feels lucky that she’s now in the United States and she wants to do something for her compatriots back in China, she said.
She has been active in pro-democracy events with Chinese dissidents in the United States and protests in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in the United States.
On June 4, 2023, she reenacted the infamous chained woman at the unveiling ceremony of the woman’s sculpture at the Liberty Sculpture Park in Yermo, California. She said that she wanted to raise public awareness of the tragic plight of women who are abducted and enslaved under the CCP’s rule.
On Dec. 10, she attended the unveiling ceremony of a monument to commemorate a significant event known as the "Great Escape to Hong Kong" (1950s–70s). The monument was dedicated to honor the survivors who fled communist China during the Cultural Revolution and remind the international community that true freedom remains elusive under the rule of the CCP.
“The CCP’s persecution of the Chinese people must be stopped,” said Ms. Zheng.
Ma Shang'en and Mary Hong contributed to this report.