The German Expat Phone Call That Went Viral in Shanghai [Full Transcript]
On Tuesday, April 19, a recording of a phone call between a German national living in Shanghai and a translator working for the neighborhood committee was shared from WeChat group to WeChat group and went viral on Chinese social media, as well as being shared on Reddit and Twitter.
The 9-minute phone call is about the fact that the Shanghai-based German national in question supposedly tested positive for Covid-19. The man demands another test, saying he is definitely negative, and he also refuses to be taken off to a quarantine location.
In line with China’s dynamic zero-Covid policy, every resident who tests positive for Covid-19 is to be isolated at a centralized quarantine location. There have been many complaints about this mandatory quarantine rule over the past weeks.
One issue that many are concerned about is that the living conditions at some of Shanghai’s quarantine locations are sub-par at best, with people complaining about toilets not being cleaned, trash not being handled, medical staff not being present, and supplies being so scarce that some locations even saw fights breaking out over water and food.
Another issue is that the handling process of taking positive Covid-19 patients to such locations is so slow (with a lack of staff and patients-waiting-for-beds “人等床” instead of beds-waiting-for-patients “床等人” being contributing factors), that people are sometimes required to go to a quarantine location nine days or longer after they first tested positive. By that time, most of these people have recovered from Covid and actually test negative again. Not only does it not make sense for them to go to a quarantine location, they might also risk getting infected again, which would only lengthen their mandatory stay at such a location. On social media, frustrated residents have vented their anger about this issue.
Earlier this month, another phone call in which a Chinese mother also refused to comply with orders to go to a quarantine camp since they were testing negative for Covid again also went viral online. A Shanghai-based Italian national also shared his story of testing positive on March 26 – he was not picked up for quarantine until April 9th.
Phone Call Transcript
The most recent phone call between the Juweihui (居委会 neighborhood committee, hereafter abbreviated to JWH) the German national (‘Ralf’) is as follows. You can also listen to this recorded phone call in this video.
JWH: “Hello, are you Ralf? Yeah we are the juweihui. You know you are positive of Covid-19.”
Ralf: “I’m not positive. The CDC [Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention] called me two days ago to come and test me, and they never came to test me. I was positive about 12 days ago and there is no way I’m still positive. So I’m demanding a new test.”
JWH: “So you think you are negative?”
Ralf: “I know I am negative. There’s no thinking.”
JWH: “But now the policy says you have to go to the camp.”
Ralf: “There is no policy in place. The CDC called me two days ago that they would come and test me. They have no people to come and test me, so that’s not my problem if there’s no personnel. So get the CDC, get them the f*ck over here to take a test and then we can talk. I don’t care about your policy – I really don’t care – because your system is really f*cked up, it doesn’t work. I’ve been to the camp already and they didn’t want me. They sent me back home. It’s ridiculous. It’s a disgrace for you, for the government, for Shanghai, for China.”
JWH: [trying to get some words in between] “Yes.. I know..”
Ralf: “It’s a really big joke. So get the CDC, come here, take a test, I’ll be negative, and then we can talk.”
JWH: “Yeah I know, I – I know the problem is that kind of thing. But..”
Ralf: “But that’s not my problem! This is not our problem. That’s your problem, it’s your government, not mine. So solve it. Get somebody here, test me. I will make a huge scene at the center. Don’t worry, I’ll have all the media involved. Just get me a test over here. I don’t want your excuses I really don’t care. Get the CDC over here. Take a test. I’ll be negative. We’re all fine.”
JWH: “Listen to me. I’m not a person from the government. I’m just here to translate because you can’t speak Chinese. They want me to tell you that someone will take you to the camp tonight no matter what you say.”
Ralf: “If you’re a translator you’ll translate both sides, right? You’ll also translate back to them? Or you’re just translating Chinese to English? Can you also do English to Chinese?”
JWH: “Yeah. I will tell them what you say. But they just want me to tell you, you have to go to the camp.”
Ralf: “Can you tell them in Chinese I do not f*king care? I want the CDC here to take a test. This government is really f*cked up, there is no organization. I have been to the center already. They sent me back. Me and my wife have been there. My wife is here, she’s negative, everyone here is negative. So if there’s no people testing me I really do not f*cking care.”
JWH: “Yeah I know but..”
Ralf: “Sent the police over here, sent them with a test over here. Please report to your boss to send the police over here with the test, take a test with me, and then we can test.” [Shouting in background]
Ralf: “I tested negative, first positive on f*cking April, the 3rd. April 3!”
JWH: “You haven’t..”
Ralf: “Listen to me! They left us here for twelve days, then they decided to take us. Then they sent us back home after leaving us there in the cold for five hours. This is f*cking ridiculous. This is insane. So, I’m sorry that you are in the middle, but this is ridiculous. Get your boss. Tell him I tell him he sucks. Tell him the system sucks. Tell him to send a CDC officer here and take a f*cking new test with me.. [shouting in background]..and then we can talk. The CDC called me two days ago. They said, stay home, take a test. They did not send any single person here.” [Woman’s voice in background: “We have a recording of this!”] “I have a recording of this.” [Woman’s voice in background: “We can prove everything!”] “Your system is the most ridiculous I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. My children in kindergarten are more organized than this f*cking crap here. And that’s what you can tell your boss, with nice greetings from me.”
JWH: “I – I know what you mean.”
Ralf: “You don’t know what I mean! I have pets in this f*cking place, I had to pay 6000 RMB [$935] to get my cat in rescue because your government is a piece of sh*t. You do not understand what’s going on. You have no clue. You have no clue. so get the CDC over here, take a test, and if that’s positive, I’m more than willing to go. But it’s not gonna be positive so get the f*cking CDC over here and then we can talk. But that’s how the thing must go. If not, tell your boss to bring the police. My embassy is all over you anyways already. So this is going to be massive. This is a f*cking big joke, and you know it. And you do not understand. I’m sorry you’re in the middle of this, that’s your job. So go back to your boss and translate what I just said. Tell him this policy stinks, tell him this policy does not work – it is complete chaos, it is like a f*cking kindergarten. You can tell him exactly that. Do we understand?”
JWH: “Yeah I will tell them what you said.”
Ralf: “Go get the CDC over here. The CDC called me two days ago and said that would come and test me and they did not come. The same happened to a friend of mine in Jing’an, same procedure. It’s f*cking ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. It’s a digrace for this country and for your government. You’re like a joke in the whole f*cking world now. This country is a joke, it’s seriously a joke. And that’s what you can tell your boss. If they would have this organized – no problem. [But] they leave us here with 8 people, corona positive, for f*cking 15 days. We’re all fine, and then they decide to take us? What sort of ridiculous rule is that? That’s ridiculous. There’s no logic to this. It’s completely f*cking random. So you understand?”
JWH: “Yeah, I understand. Ok. I will call you later, maybe, ok? Thank you.”
Ralf: “Maybe you talk to your boss and then you call me back. So then I’m going to have to call my embassy again and then they will be on your ass again.”
JWH: “Ok.. I know what to say, and I will talk to them, ok?”
Ralf: “So call me back. Call the CDC. Because we cannot reach the CDC because it doesn’t work properly. They call us with random numbers. They call us at 2 AM in the morning. They call us at 3 AM in the morning. We cannot call back. This is a disgrace. A disgrace for China. So call the CDC and have them call me back and get them come over here and take a PCR test. If I’m positive, hey, you can take me, no problem. I’m fine. If it’s negative, I’m staying.”
JWH: “Yeah, I..I.. I know you are..”
Ralf: “You don’t know, don’t say you know. You have no f*cking idea. You have no f*cking idea what’s going on here. I understand you are translating, you’re in the middle of this, I’m sorry for you, but this system that you’re putting in place – the system that you are supporting – is a piece of sh*t. A piece of sh*t. It’s not working. It’s totally random. Makes no sense. People are afraid to get deported more than to get sick. This is a f*cking joke. And you do not understand. So don’t tell me you understand. Go to your boss, tell him what I said, get the CDC over here, and then call me back.”
JWH: “Ok. I will call..”
Ralf: “I will not go anywhere. I’m fine. I’m home. I cannot run away. So get the CDC over here. If they are not capable of sending a person to test, that’s not my f*cking problem. That’s your f*cking problem. That’s your boss’s f*cking problem. That’s the CDC’s f*cking problem. And a f*cking Party problem. But certainly not my problem. So take your problem somewhere else and don’t put them on me. Get the thing sorted out and then we can talk.”
Ralf: “And I will make the same..I would make the scene or whatever if they take me. I’m fine. I’m going to have a really nice time at the camp. It’s gonna be really ridiculous for you guys. Ah, I’m gonna love it. I’m already in touch with all the media in Germany. This is gonna be lovely, lovely.” [Woman’s voice in background: “Global glory for China!”] “Global glory. This is a disgrace for this country. Yes. Any third-world country would do this better than this. This is really, really, really shameful.”
Ralf: “So give me a call back and tell me when CDC is coming for a test.”
JWH: “Ok, I will. I will talk to them and tell you when they will come ok.”
Ralf: “When will who come?”
JWH: “The…doctor to test.”
Ralf: “Thank you. Yes.”
JWH: “Ok I will call them.”
Ralf: “Thank you. Bye bye.”
JWH: “Thank you. Bye bye.”
As the recording has gone viral online over the past 48 hours (the WeChat link was no longer online at the time of writing), there are many people who applaud the German for criticizing the system, but there are also some who think his demeanor is not right.
One Weibo user named ‘Unidentified Susu’ (@未名苏苏) writes:
“Unexpectedly, many people say the recording of the German man cursing at the Chinese employee is so good, but I was really angry to hear it. A foreigner, on Chinese soil, should abide by Chinese laws and cooperate with China’s anti-epidemic policies. If there is inconvenience or misunderstanding because the communication is not right, there should be proper communication to solve the problem. A big German guy telling our female employees f*cking this and that, the wife shouting and screaming bad words in the background, and then so many Chinese happily sharing and liking this recording, saying it’s good that he scolded them, that’s really distressing and makes me angry. What era is this that this foreign man in China is being so arrogant and bossy to our workers, scolding our government, cursing at our employees – does he think we’re living a century ago? China does not welcome this kind of foreigners, you go back to where you came from, go back to your Germany where you can use Russian natural gas.”
But not everyone agrees. A top commenter replies: “Do you know the saying ‘support who is reasonable rather than who is closer to you’ (帮理不帮亲)? If it were you, and after more than ten days you’ve tested negative again and they want to come and take you and place you together in a makeshift hospital with people who are all positive, risking getting infected again, would you go? This is nothing personal. If he were Chinese, I would also support him, because he makes sense.”
“I would be cursing if I were him, too,” multiple people say.
But there are also other people criticizing the angry German, such as this Weibo user:
“I saw the recording of the angry German versus the neighborhood committee in my WeChat group today. I’d suggest the neighborhood committee to bring the Germans under control the German way: ‘do a PCR test? You need to book it. Send a letter or email in advance to book it, or if it’s urgent, you can come and stand in line at 5 AM to get your number. We will then send you a letter stating your date of when you can do the test.’ This is how foreigners are treated in Germany and the entire system has been a joke for ages. And if we speak English? Forget it. This is Germany, you need to speak German. German only. In the end, if you really can’t, you might as well break down the door and drag the person away.”
As for Ralf, another video posted to social media shows him drinking a glass of sparkling wine. “I’m back home,” he says, adding: “I will say this openly – f*ck this bullsh*t, and f*ck the Party, they are f*cking idiots. F*ck that sh*t. We’ve been out for six hours on a bus for no reason. We just rescued our cat and paid tons of money to get our cats rescued (..) Now they drove every foreigner back home. And we can restart the same story tomorrow again (..) Cheers, we’ll have a drink now, on the Communist Party, which we love.”
“The foreigners in Shanghai are going crazy,” one Weibo user commented on the phone call recording, with others saying: “I support this foreign guy.”
Because Ralf mentions the rescuing of his cat, it’s likely that the video was recorded before the juweihui phone call went viral. We do now know if the CDC has yet come to test him yet.
For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.
By Manya Koetse
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