An activist in the central province of Henan has been hauled in for questioning by local police after he applied to stage a street protest over a forcible nationwide vaccination program that is reportedly being spearheaded by ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping.
Cheng Xiaofeng told RFA that he had applied to police to stage the demonstration in downtown Zhuzhou city, but that police had refused to take the paperwork he handed in, and summoned him for questioning instead.
“Their attitude was extremely unfriendly and you could say arrogant,” Cheng said. “The police officer just told me … they wouldn’t approve it.”
“I said that he should at least give me my application back in accordance with legal processes, and indicate that he received it, but he refused,” Cheng said.
He said according to Chinese law on demonstrations, the lack of a written reply from police is equivalent to approval.
“We will be holding the demonstration as scheduled on Aug. 30,” Cheng said.
Official documents posted to local government websites in recent weeks have indicated that Xi Jinping has announced a target of 78 percent coverage of China’s total population by the end of October, with at least 200 million doses administered across the country in the next two months.
A July 19, 2021 announcement on the official website of the Nanchong municipal government in the southwestern province of Sichuan reads: “General secretary Xi Jinping personally reviewed the implementation plan for the coronavirus vaccination program in the second half of this year, and made the decision.”
Despite widespread public concerns over adverse reactions in vaccinated individuals, government departments were exhorted to “Strengthen guidance and propaganda work, organize experts to dispel people’s doubts, and boost public willingness to be vaccinated.”
“The Party Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to [this task],” it said.
While the National Health Commission has said many times that China’s vaccination program is purely voluntary, there are reports that local officials are using far more coercive measures to force vaccinations on people, so as to meet the targets laid down by central government.
Pressure from local officials
A video clip posted to social media showed a CCP village party secretary surnamed Liu arguing with local residents of Caizhuang village in Henan province, boasting that he would “rather kill 1,000 people by mistake than miss a single person out.”
The person who shot the clip, Zhang Jie, told RFA that he wanted an exemption for him and his wife on medical grounds, as both suffer from thrombosis.
“But when I spoke to the hospital [about an exemption certificate], the doctor told me straight that they wouldn’t issue one,” Zhang said.
Meanwhile, local officials contacted Zhang’s wife’s employer and told them to fire her if she refused to get the jab.
The video clip was the result of his subsequent conversation about exemption with party secretary Liu.
After it was posted, three police officers from nearby Shuanghe township visited Zhang’s home and took him to the police station on suspicion of “spreading negative news” on Aug. 24, Zhang said.
“They asked me to delete all the things I had posted from my mobile phone,” Zhang said.
Entry, access denied
Zhang said that people without certification are now increasingly being denied entry to supermarkets and farmers’ markets, as well as access to public transportation, with marks against their social credit record.
“According to my understanding, a lot of people in China are not coming forward to be vaccinated because they lack confidence in Chinese-made vaccines, and are holding out in the hope of getting foreign-made vaccines,” Hu Ping, editor-in-chief of the New York-based magazine Beijing Spring told RFA.
“But the Chinese government has made getting everyone vaccinated a top-priority political task,” Hu said. “Why didn’t China’s leaders come out and get the Chinese vaccine to demonstrate their confidence, like Taiwan [president] Tsai Ing-wen did with the Taiwan vaccine?”
Cheng Xiaofeng said he wants to protest because Chinese-made vaccines were “launched in a hurry with no clinical trial data.”
“Some of my friends and classmates have had a high fever after being vaccinated, and it lasted nearly a month,” Cheng said. “These are some of the side-effects of the vaccine, but the government has never made this public, as if people have no right to know these things.”
“The most shameful thing is that they make you fill out a form saying you are having it voluntarily,” he said.
Fellow Zhuzhou resident Chen Siming said the vaccination campaign is political propaganda designed to show how China’s authoritarian political system can outperform that of the United States.
“I would rather die from COVID-19 than get it,” Chen said. “I am scared to death of the Chinese-made vaccines.”
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.