Zhongyuan is one of the most-populated districts of Zhengzhou, the capital and largest city of Henan Province. Zhengzhou reported six new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, Oct. 16, which is down from a recent peak of 40 on Oct. 9. Across China, reported cases declined to 697, the lowest in two weeks.
Residents are not allowed to go out unless they need to undergo COVID-19 testing and non-essential businesses have been shut, according to a government notice.
In Shanghai, where 32 new cases were reported, some schools have suspended in-person classes. Entertainment venues such as cinemas and bars have temporarily shut down in at least five districts. Some neighborhoods are also under the stringent public health mandate. In certain areas, individual compounds have been barricaded with green fences.
President Xi Jinping hinted during the twice-a-decade Party Congress in Beijing on Sunday that there is no looming change in the country's zero-COVID policy, saying that "strict rules protect people's lives."
Observers noted how Xi seemed to deliberately avoid mentioning how lockdowns affect the economy, especially since investors have been hoping that they loosen their public health mandates. The lockdowns have been "costly" to the stakeholders, disrupting the supply chain of industries such as cars, phones and even Christmas trees. (Related: China's perpetual lockdown of major port city Shanghai brings supply chain to brink of collapse, but that may be the plan.)
Chinese residents are also getting frustrated by the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) authoritarian policies. A 34-year-old female Beijing resident told Al Jazeera that authorities have asked her to wear an electronic monitoring wristband at all times as part of the regime's fight against the pandemic.
"I have never put it on," she said. "I have accepted lockdowns, forced COVID-19 tests and health codes, but this thing feels like surveillance just for the sake of surveillance. I am afraid that the COVID-19 strategy is starting to be about controlling Chinese people instead of fighting COVID-19."
The CCP also deemed it important to censor its constituents and control the narrative create an illusion that China is enjoying a thriving economy.
For example, the communist nation recently restricted the words "Beijing" and "bridge" on social media platforms like Weibo after two banners criticizing Xi and his zero-COVID policy were displayed on a bridge in the Beijing. One banner stated: "We want food, not PCR tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns and controls."
By having vast influence on mainstream and social media, the CCP can easily control the narrative.
"His narrative is: China faces many dangers, the country is in a warlike state, figuratively, and he is the savior. With this narrative, he can get people to unite around him," Wu said.
In his full work report, Xi used the terms "security" or "safety" 89 times, up from 55 times in 2017, according to Reuters. His use of the word "reform" declined to 48 from 68 mentions five years ago.
Xi, 69, is widely expected to win a third leadership term at the conclusion of the weeklong congress that began on Sunday morning, cementing his place as China's most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong.
Visit CommunistChina.news for more news related to China's stringent public health policies.
Watch this video about citizens' unrest over COVID-19 lockdowns in China.
This video is from the Clampdown Report channel on Brighteon.com.