A Chinese man living in London who spent the peak of the pandemic in Wuhan has said China was able to control its coronavirus outbreak quicker because people are more obedient and willing to listen to science.
Xi Lu, 31, spent 141 days in Wuhan in early 2020 after he became stuck there during a visit to see his family in the city.
He went abroad in January, and was able to return to London, where he has lived for the last seven years, in July. His wife remained in the UK while he was in China.
One of the first and strictest lockdowns occured in Wuhan six months ago, after the region experienced the first outbreak of the virus.
The city was sealed off from the rest of China. Residents discouraged from leaving their homes except for groceries, and face masks were made mandatory. The strict lockdown lasted 76 days during which time Mr Lu only went outside occasionally to collect deliveries.
However, now that restrictions are mostly lifted, more than 18 million tourists came to the city for China’s Golden Week in early October.
Despite this, China has not reported another large Covid-19 outbreak.
Mr Lu said a significant cultural difference made Chinese citizens more likely to follow their government’s rules.
He said: “In China if there is a rule, we follow the rule. If we see somebody not following the rules, we don’t need to punish them, we need to make sure they are aware of their violations against the rules.
“Most of the Chinese people, in particular the younger generation, they have had more than 15 years of obligatory education. So most of the younger generation, they believe in the science. They just follow whatever the scientists say.
“Wear the mask? We wear the mask. And we tell our parents and grandparents to wear the mask.
“We wouldn’t say ‘let’s take the mask off because I can’t breathe right’, because we know this virus is there.”
Chinese people were also more likely to report their neighbours for breaking the rules, he said – adding that he had reported a neighbour for violating lockdown.
He said if people continue to be anti-mask and anti-vaccine, there would be a third wave and lockdown in the spring, and a fourth next winter.
Mr Lu said he respected those who said lockdown restrictions were an impact on their freedom: “But freedom is only a relative word for me. We do ask for freedom, but our freedom does not get in the way of other’s freedom.
“If we do that, we are kind of stealing two months of freedom, by going out to the bar with friends.
“If there is no one left, there are no human rights.”
Additional reporting by PA Media.