“Ten days in Xi’an” has been called the Xi’an version of “Wuhan Diary,” by Chinese novelist, Fang Fang. Similarly, investigative journalist, Jiang Xue, documented the spiral of her city, Xi’an (with a population of more than 13 million residents), into complete lockdown.
Jiang observes that the real tragedy is not the deaths from the spread of COVID-19, but from the hardships and emergencies strict lockdown led to – such as access to medical help (for high-risk pregnancies and existing conditions) curbed by the order to stay in. Food and other necessities weren’t in short supply, she says, but lack of access as a result of restrictions plunged people into crisis.
The government took on an impossible role in the pandemic lockdown that Jiang says the restoration of market order was far better equipped to cope with.
Published on January 4, 2022, “Ten days in Xi’an” is a log of Jiang’s daily experiences under lockdown posted to the WeChat social media platform. It’s life there drew millions of views and more than 2,000 messages in response. But a life short-lived. The piece was scrubbed from WeChat four days after it appeared. On January 5, the very next day after Jiang’s post went viral, two policemen knocked on her door, warning Jiang not to write again. The many articles supporting “Ten days in Xi’an” were also deleted and the account that posted her log was shut down permanently two weeks later.
Jiang explains she did not write her account in anger, which she kept under control. Her wish was to release “a few words of truth” about “people in pain desperate to hear authentic voices,” and to ensure the suffering of many had not been in vain.
Those experiences were erased in China. But Jiang’s “Ten days in Xi’an” nevertheless took flight and has found its voice beyond the country’s borders. Read those voices and carry their lessons forward when you follow Jiang’s journal, presented for the first time as an English translation.