Video shows people in China's Zhejiang province and not 'Shanghai after Covid lockdown eased'

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A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in Chinese-language social media posts alongside a claim it shows Shanghai residents celebrating the lifting of a weeks-long Covid lockdown that has paralysed China's largest city. In reality, the video featured in the posts was filmed in Yiwu city in China's eastern Zhejiang province. Shanghai authorities have announced a gradual reopening of businesses but as of May 17, it remains unclear when the lockdown will be fully lifted.

"Rehearsal scene in Shanghai for the lifting of the lockdown restriction," states the Chinese-language text overlay on a video shared on Twitter on May 15.

The post's caption makes a similar claim that the video was filmed in Shanghai.

The clip shows two men directing a crowd in a countdown.

One man can be heard shouting in Mandarin Chinese: "Let's rehearse. Rehearsal. Three, two, one!"

In response, the crowd can be heard shouting, "Our lockdown restriction is lifted! Yeah!"

A screenshot taken on May 16, 2022 showing the false post

Confronted with its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, China -- the last major economy still closed off to the world -- put the city of 25 million under heavy restrictions in early April.

The video circulated online as Shanghai vice mayor Chen Tong announced a reopening of businesses "in stages" from May 16.

The video was viewed more than 100,000 times alongside a similar claim on Twitter and Facebook.

It was also embedded in a news report by the Chinese news outlet Phoenix on May 15 that makes a similar claim.

However, the claim is false.

Not Shanghai

A combination of reverse image and keyword searches on Baidu found a similar clip was shared on May 10 on the official WeChat channel for Yiwu Radio and Television, a broadcaster based in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

The report states the video shows a street in Choujiang -- a neighbourhood in Zhejiang's Yiwu city -- as Covid lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the video on the WeChat channel (right) with similar features circled by AFP:

A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the video on the WeChat channel (right) with similar features circled by AFP.

A follow-up keyword search on Baidu found similar footage taken from a different angle was published by the newspaper Zhejiang Daily on May 10.

The report states that residents celebrated the lifting of pandemic restrictions in the Choujiang neighbourhood on May 10.

"The isolation fence at the village's entrance was removed shortly after midnight on May 10 in Shentang Village, Choujiang Street, Yiwu City, as everyone counted down together," the report reads in part.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Zhejiang Daily footage (right) with matching building structures circled by AFP:

A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the Zhejiang Daily video (right) with similar building structures circled by AFP.

The location mentioned in the Zhejiang Daily report corresponds to this Baidu street imagery of Shentang Village, Choujiang Street, Yiwu City.

Below is a screenshot of the video in the false posts (left) and the image of the location on Baidu maps (right) with corresponding structures circled by AFP:

A screenshot of the video in the false posts (left) and the image of the location on Baidu maps (right) with similar structures circled by AFP.
COVID-19