‘Where is 83.5 billion yuan?’ people raised their concerns as Shanghai asked for Covid-19 donations.

The successive blockades and nucleic acid testing have hit the Chinese economy hard. It also made it difficult for all levels of China’s local authorities to provide financial support.

Chinese-language media NTDTV reported that the Shanghai authorities had asked officials in the city to donate money to fight the epidemic. This shows that even the most developed regions in China may not have been able to withstand the Zero-covid policy.

Recently, the Shanghai State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) issued an online notice on June 7. The commission requested that officials of the Shanghai Finance Commission take the lead in raising money.

The notice also revealed that the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee had asked the party members and officials to donate money. That is, all CCP members in the whole city could have received the donation notice.

In particular, the notice also said that the city committee requested: “don’t make donation activities public.”

The notice content is: “Notice about asking CCP cadres to donate money to support epidemic prevention and control. The City Party Committee has issued an initiative to take the lead in raising money to support the epidemic prevention and control to Party members and officials of the city government.”

City party members voluntarily took the lead in raising money to support epidemic prevention.

People are also welcome to participate in donation activities actively.

In this regard, the Shanghai State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said that most Shanghai party members should help out with kindness. They have to take the lead in donating. Relevant businesses need to strengthen the statistics of donations and transfer money to the Commission by June 14.

The committee specified the website and the bank account number that receives the money.

The incident sparked heated discussions on Weibo.

NTDTV quoted some netizens as saying, “I’m speechless, does Shanghai need donations? Because of the epidemic, many small businesses in other cities have had to close, and because of the epidemic, the casual workers are struggling to get a basic wage,…”

Another netizen said that Shanghai just received 83.5 billion yuan (about 12.5 billion dollars) from the June 8 land sale, “If Shanghai has to raise money, what about other cities?”

Social media account Dddjkbajo wrote: “Speaking of which, Shanghai still needs to raise money?… Due to the epidemic, other cities have been locked down and small businesses have been closed. It is very difficult for ordinary employees to get a basic salary. The utopia of 2022…If Shanghai has to raise money, what about other cities?”

In addition, on Weibo, many users have hotly discussed this. Most of them wonder about the huge amount of 83.5 billion yuan from the city’s land sale. So, why don’t authorities use it for the anti-epidemic expenses?

Weibo Screenshots show that people have been wondering. They say:

“Isn’t it just using 83.5 billion? If Shanghai raises money, will other cities do the same?”

“Easy for you to say, how can anyone in Shanghai be really happy and do it quickly?”

“Income of land sale is 80 billion and it should be used for this period.”

“You really can’t take out 80 billion to use it.”

According to NTDTV, the CCP’s Zero-covid policy requires nucleic acid testing, large-scale construction of patient isolation cabins (or fancang), and manpower to conduct sealing and control. All need substantial financial backing.

Recently, the Beijing government has banned using health insurance to pay for large-scale nucleic acid testing, so local authorities will have to raise more funds to support the “Zero-covid” policy.

Shanghai is China’s leading economic development center. However, Sina cited official statistics in the first half of 2021, showing the finances of 30 provinces and cities across the country were in deficit, and only Shanghai was in a budget surplus. According to NTDTV, Shanghai’s financial surplus mainly depends on land sales. This year, the city’s closure for more than two months has severely damaged Shanghai’s economy.

Shen Chongming, a scholar, formally employed in China’s civil service system, told Radio Free Asia on June 10 that China’s unique epidemic prevention model and Shanghai’s “closed city” has severely impacted the Chinese economy.

Shen Chongming said, “Shanghai has always had the largest financial balance surplus among the developed industrial and commercial cities in China. Now they are asking for donations. What will China’s economy will look like this year? The Shanghai government’s treasury is basically empty but epidemic prevention can’t be stopped. So fundraising must be on the agenda.”

He said that two weeks ago, China Health Insurance issued a letter. The letter prohibits local governments from using health insurance funds to pay for large-scale nucleic acid testing, showing that authorities’ finances may be at a red alert level. “Now that the local financial authority is not allowed to pay the cost of the nucleic acid test, and health insurance is not allowed to pay, so where to get the money?”

Vision Times news commentator Tang Jingyuan pointed out: “This type of donation initiative has not only an economic element, but also often has a political purpose. The so-called voluntary donation is actually a forced donation. Those who do not donate will be seen as having low political consciousness and will be subject to retaliation. As for whether the  raised money will be used to fight the epidemic, no one knows, it is a secret of the party, there is no way for the ordinary party members to monitor.”

In addition, Radio Free Asia said, Yueqing in Zhejiang Province and Heze in Shandong Province have recently launched campaigns to “donate a day’s salary to charity.”

According to the Wenzhou news network, Yueqing city held the “Charity one day donation” activity on June 7. The theme was “Concentrating the power of charity and helping everyone to prosper.” Party agencies, local authorities, the army, social organizations, officials, employees and all classes of people participated. The event raised a total of 3.8 million yuan (about 566,400 dollars. In addition, China Shandong Net reported that the Heze Department of Internal Affairs also held a “one-day salary donation” ceremony.

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