Chinese Kids Enlisted to Police Neighbors, Enforce COVID Rules, Video Shows

  • Children in Zhengzhou city’s Baihe District are being asked to sign up to police their neighbors.
  • Screenshots of an administrative group chat called for volunteers aged 10 to 13.
  • The tweens are being asked to show up for three-hour shifts in red scarves, reminiscent of the Communist Red Guards.

A Chinese town is recruiting tweens between the ages of 10 and 13 to police their neighbors and make sure they follow China’s zero-COVID regulations.

On Wednesday, a screenshot that appeared to be from an administrative group chat based in Zhengzhou city’s Lucheng Baihe District circulated on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. The screenshot contained information about a “recruitment order” seeking pre-teen volunteers. Insider was unable to independently identify the identity of the person who sent the message or when it was sent.

“In order to unite and fight this pandemic, the Lucheng Baihe District is recruiting youths to fight on the front lines,” the notice read.

Posts on Weibo indicated the message was sent this week, amid widespread protests in every major Chinese city against China’s zero-COVID policy. The protests mark a rare moment of mass dissent and the largest organized rallies against the Chinese government since the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989.

The duties outlined were threefold. First, the youths must “civilly educate” their neighbors and remind them to keep their face masks on. Second, the tweens are to “surveil the area to control the virus” and ask anyone lingering outside to return to their homes.

The third responsibility involves acting as security for the district. 

The recruitment order requires the teens to report for slots including a morning shift from 8 to 11:30 a.m., an afternoon shift from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and another “late shift” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

There’s also a dress code for the role: Students must wear their school uniforms when on duty, per the notice. They are also required to wear red scarves and red armbands, reminiscent of the paramilitary Communist Red Guards during former Chairman Mao Zedong’s reign. These were cadres of young people who became shock troops responsible for surveilling, torturing, and killing their victims. 

A Twitter account called The Great Translation Movement, which often re-posts information from Weibo to its audience outside China, uploaded what appeared to be a video of a child in a hazmat suit along with a screenshot of the recruitment order.

In the video, a child is seen holding a megaphone and yelling instructions, including orders for people to show their health code information on their phones. Insider was unable to independently verify when or where the video was taken. 

 

Not everyone on Weibo agreed with the recruitment exercise. 

“The anti-COVID measures in Zhengzhou are truly mystical,” wrote one Weibo user. “We’re recruiting 10 to 13-year-old kids? I thought we were supposed to protect the young and the elderly. What’s the meaning of this?” 

“The intent of this move seems to be nothing more than turning children into the moral police. Have you thought of the safety of these children?” wrote another Weibo user. “I want to ask the community leaders behind this order: why don’t you ask your own family to be on the frontlines of the fight against COVID?”

Zhengzhou on Wednesday reported 130 locally transmitted COVID cases and 486 asymptomatic cases, per Reuters.

The city is home to the world’s biggest iPhone factory. Last week, people rioted over the Chinese government’s anti-COVID measures. Videos showed hundreds of workers rioting at the plant, clashing with security guards wearing white hazmat suits.

Zhengzhou ended its COVID lockdown on Wednesday.

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