Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, had a humongous New Year’s Eve party in the streets last night, even as most of the world celebrated New Year’s Eve under some form of lockdown due to the virus that was unleashed from the city.
For propaganda reasons, the Chinese government has been found to have repeatedly lied about the extent of the spread of the virus in China as a whole and in Wuhan specifically. Chinese officials lied about both the initial spread of the virus and about how many people were eventually infected, with studies showing that likely at least ten times the official figure of 50,354 cases occurred in Wuhan.
The public celebrations were no doubt designed to convey the same message as the rest of the Chinese government’s propaganda efforts: that their method of controlling the virus is far superior to the west’s. Given their lengthy and ongoing history of deception, however, it is impossible to know whether or not the virus continues to rage in the city, and whether or not this public show might have facilitated further spread of the disease in the city where it originated.
Nevertheless, of course, some American media outlets dutifully repeated almost certainly false Chinese propaganda to the effect that Wuhan “has been free from the virus following a strictly-enforced 76-day lockdown of its 11 million citizens.”
Meanwhile, major cities in the rest of the world featured much smaller New Year’s Eve celebrations than normal, or no in-person celebrations at all. Times Square was virtually deserted on New Year’s Eve, marking an eerie end to a bizarre 2020 for many Americans. London likewise cancelled its traditional fireworks display near Parliament. Paris actually imposed a curfew at 8pm to prevent crowds from gathering around the Eiffel Tower.
It was likely this spectacle of emptiness in the rest of the world that the Chinese government was counting on to create the contrast for their propaganda message. Notably, most of the crowd in Wuhan was photographed wearing masks, which would be unexpected in a city that had actually been free of the coronavirus for seven months as the Chinese government implausibly claims.