From Current Digest of the Chinese Press, Dec. 3, 2022. Complete text:

Professor Makes Controversial Claims About COVID

On Nov. 30, Xin Jing Bao, a Chinese Communist Party-owned newspaper based in Beijing, reposted an article written and published by People’s Daily, another state media outlet, which quoted Prof. Chong Yutian at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province on the topic of COVID-19 transmission. The professor stated that there are no confirmed sequelae of COVID and that people who tested positive but have no symptoms, or have recovered from the disease, are unlikely to spread it to anyone else in the community; thus, they should be considered safe and no longer required to quarantine. The news article quickly attracted more than 300 million views and generated over 36,000 discussion threads on Weibo within an hour.

People expressed shock after reading this article, as until the day before, government officials and state media had still been emphasizing the necessity for zero-COVID policy and reporting stories about the high death toll suffered elsewhere, as well as the symptoms of “long COVID,” which include months of respiratory problems, trouble with memory and concentration, and erectile dysfunction. Tens of thousands of readers commented that they now feel completely lost and have no idea what they are supposed to do; they asked for clarification from the central government. A large number of netizens who strongly support the zero-COVID policy do not believe the opinion of Prof. Chong and suspect that Xin Jing Bao is controlled by hostile foreign forces and is trying to spread rumors to overturn the current COVID restrictions. The article was soon taken down and disappeared from all media channels.

Starting from Dec. 1, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing and Shenzhen have all lifted requirements for mass Covid testing and are rapidly shifting to lighten the burden of large-scale quarantines and lockdowns.

Newly Released Statistics Get Netizens Talking About Marriage

On Dec. 1, Yicai Media reported that the number of marriages in China continues to decrease this year, the average age of first marriage has risen, and the single population is increasing quickly. According to the China Statistical Yearbook 2022, compiled and published by the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of Chinese registering their first marriage in 2021 was 11.578 million, down 708,000 from the previous year. This is a record low for the past 37 years; not since then had the number of first marriages fallen below 12 million. Based on data from the first three quarters of 2022, the number of marriages is still declining. According to a recent report released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the number of marriage registrations in the country in the first three quarters was 5.445 million, a decrease of 7.5% from the same period in 2021. Yicai Media concluded that the three-year-long COVID-19 epidemic has not only had a huge impact on the economy but also affected the normal lives of residents, leading to a decline in the marriage rate.

Many netizens have different opinions on this subject. Comments that received the most likes state that it is not COVID, but increasing housing prices and low wages across the country that are the main reasons why young people are less interested in getting married. Other netizens think that increased education levels among females, higher expectations for career development, and growing financial independence are the primary reasons that more and more young women no longer want marriage. Many female netizens agree with this point of view: They explain that they have high-quality single lives, and that the experience of their friends makes them worried that their quality of life will decline after marrying and having children, so they have no plans to get married at all.

Exercise During Pregnancy: Proactive or Reckless?

On Dec. 6, a 33-year-old woman from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province who is pregnant with twins posted a video that sparked heated discussion among netizens. In the video, the woman showed how to stand on one hand and did all kinds of difficult yoga moves. Then she said that these steps were just a warm-up before a workout, followed by weight training. According to her, she is currently 36 weeks pregnant. This is her first pregnancy, and she suffered a lot of discomfort during the first trimester. After communicating with her doctor, she decided to exercise three times a week starting in her 12th week, to maintain a good physical and mental state during pregnancy.

While there are a few people who praise the woman for being proactive about her health and keeping fit during pregnancy, most netizens criticize her for being selfish, irresponsible, and inconsiderate of her twin babies. They comment that pregnant women should avoid all intense exercises like weightlifting and difficult yoga poses, because they might cause a miscarriage or hurt the babies in some way. Some female netizens shared personal experiences of seeing their pregnant friends being sent to the hospital after exercising in the gym. Others comment that everyone is different and should make their own decisions on whether exercising is beneficial to themselves and their babies.