As Covid-19 cases trigger a fresh wave of lockdowns in China’s major cities, those living in towns across the country’s remote western region of Xinjiang say they have been enduring a lockdown that has lasted months and local officials have largely kept quiet.
Local authorities started ordering residents to stay home after Covid clusters began spreading around Xinjiang in early August. The region’s main cities shut down transportation, trapping some summer tourists until the start of winter. The restrictions remain in many parts of the region as officials struggle to implement orders from Beijing to be more precise in applying Covid controls.
Candy Tang flew home from a family vacation in Xinjiang in July, just before Covid infections began to spread, leaving her two sons behind to spend an extra week with relatives. More than 100 days and dozens of phone calls later, she was only this week reunited with her boys, who were confined to a house on a pear farm as part of a local lockdown.
“I couldn’t find a slice of hope,” said Ms. Tang of her struggle to get her children out of Xinjiang.
In the city of Korla, where the pear farm is located, officials have shut down departures from the local train station and airport. Government approval is required for anyone who wants to leave Xinjiang, tourists and the region’s 25.8 million residents alike. Ms. Tang said several applications for the kids and their grandparents to leave by car had been rejected by authorities, who didn’t give a reason.
Gauging the severity of Covid-19 outbreaks and government countermeasures in Xinjiang is difficult. Local governments have described the lockdowns as temporary and targeted, but accounts from residents and travelers suggest they have been widespread, with movement restricted for months.
Frustration with the lockdowns was evident on Thursday after the government of Urumqi, the…