The pain of Individuals

Jiani Li
3 min readFeb 24, 2021

HIEA 115 Medium post #3

Firstly, I’d like to talk about a book called Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, which is written by Chinese author Fang Fang. This is the diary that Fang Fang wrote during Wuhan lockdown and she published it online on social media Weibo. Her article caused a lot of controversy and was quickly deleted by the authorities. I heard of this diary when it was banned, and some people thought that she wrote this book that vilified China because of foreign authorities which are always trying to sabotage China’s image. When I read the question of Medium post 3 which asks me to discuss about narratives and how current pandemic situation would be depicted by historian, I decided to find out Wuhan Diary and read it.

Wuhan diary, without all that political intrigues, is just a diary which records 60 days of Fang Fang’s life during the lockdown of Wuhan city. She criticizes bad things such as the unaffordable high price of masks, mistakes made by Wuhan government and online bullies toward her. First of all, this is a personal dairy, so it can be emotional and inaccurate and everyone who read it should know its natural drawbacks. Secondly, because of the censorship and online bullies, Fang Fang decided to publish her diary in other countries. Some people think that her this move aims to hit China’s reputation and earn her a fortune. Then it comes to the assumption that Fang Fang is working for foreign authorities. Thirdly, due to political differences, medias from western countries have the tendency to report more drawbacks of China and less good things about China (just like what Chinese medias do to other western countries). It is understandable but problematic at the same time. Many reports are incomplete and biased. Though Fang Fang’s diary can only represent her personal experience, it is still an excellent breakthrough to belittle China. If the pandemic happened in other countries at first, could they do a better job than what China did? I highly doubt that.

If you ask me what’s my deepest feeling during the pandemic, I will say that individuals will be overwhelmed by the times. A grain of dust of the times, falling on a person, is a mountain. You can’t know how many people struggles behind policies, unless they are seen by you or historians (like buraku women). For example, returning mainland China has being extremely difficult during the pandemic. The policy become more and more stricter. The air tickets become more and more expensive (often cost at least 30k CNY, which is about 4700 USD). There are so many flights which are doomed to be canceled, but you can still buy them. These flights hold your money and disappoint you. Having an air ticket which can really take you home is as lucky as won a big lottery. When you finally go back home, the hotel that you live to have a 14-days monitored quarantine can have bad qualities. Many people online think that we escape to other countries to enjoy our lives and come back to poison them by carrying covids. All these things are part of my personal experience and made me so frustrated for a while.

Many drawbacks of Chinese government policies and the real pain of individuals may not be recorded officially. During the whole pandemic, China’s policies are like only for the sake of publics and some people are meant to sacrifice. (in other normal time without the covid, it is still true) I’d like historians to record individuals’ pain during the pandemic. We are not numbers. We are living human beings.