Xinjiang lockdown: Chinese censors drown out posts about food and medicine shortages

‘Internet commentary personnel’ told to deluge social media with thoughts on anything from cooking to their personal mood


Helen Davidson, The Guardian (UK)

12 Sep 2022 


Chinese censors have reportedly been ordered to flood social media with innocuous posts about Xinjiang to drown out mounting complaints of food and medication shortages in a region under lockdown for more than a month.


The Ili Kazakh autonomous prefecture, also known as Yili, is home to about 4.5 million people, and is believed to have been first put into lockdown in early August, without official public announcement, after an outbreak of Covid-19. In recent days social media has hosted reams of post about food shortages, delays or refusals of medical care.


But according to a leaked directive published by the China Digital Times, censors were told to “open a campaign of comment flooding” to drown them out.


“There are no subject matter restrictions,” it said, according to CDT’s translation. “Content may include domestic life, daily parenting, cooking, or personal moods. All internet commentary personnel should post once an hour (twice in total), but not in rapid succession! Repeat: not in rapid succession!”


In a sample of posts archived by the CDT as possible examples of the “comment flooding” campaign, users shared photos of Xinjiang cuisine and idyllic environments, but were quickly attacked as suspected attempts to “dilute” conversation about the lockdown.


“All these posts about Yili scenery and food are coming from alternate accounts. Nice job, g*v*rm*nt. Have you ever heard of maintaining a shred of dignity?” said one comment...