A part of the Dabai force carrying out epidemic prevention missions in China was seen changing clothes from hazmat suits to military uniforms. Chinese netizens commented that now they understand why Dabai is so cruel to citizens. 

Shanghai is gradually lifting the blockade. People have captured many soldiers leaving Shanghai, showing the true nature of Dabai (i.e., epidemic prevention workers wearing white hazmat protective clothing)—they were soldiers who disguised themselves as Dabai. The second half of the video captured how cruelly they treated people in Shanghai. 

The Chinese-speaking social media account named “Hero Weliam” posted the video and commented, “China’s authoritarian policy of ‘wiping out covid’ hurts everyone. Troops began to withdraw from Shanghai. This is obviously dangerous. For many Shanghai residents, it’s their worst nightmare! Let’s stay away from evil and welcome the new era.’” 

A netizen with the name of ‘old driver’ posted a video of a large group of Daiba gatherings with the comment, “A bunch of ghosts, a bunch of white communist ghosts roaming around in China! They are much scarier than transmission of the virus. They block doors, beat people, arrest and put people in jail. If you are sick, they won’t give you treatment. If you don’t get sick, they will make you sick, or make you starve to death. There’s no way to tell who they are, but everyone knows this is the biggest terrorist group in China right now!”

Twitter user @ wenjun7011 posted a video showing residents fighting against Dabai with the caption: “Citizens are fighting back in #AmazingChina against the hazmat suit wearing neighborhood watch turned stormtroopers. Once they peel off the suit they go back to looking like everyone else.”  

Many videos on Twitter show Dabai beating people. 

According to Bloomberg, Dabai or Big White describe police brigades, medical staff, and volunteers in white hazmat suits who have usually appeared during the pandemic in China. Chinese state media have been using the term since the virus emerged in 2020 in Wuhan to spread propaganda about images of volunteers in white hazmat suits. This nickname (Dabai or Big White) is similar to the Chinese name of Baymax, the soft inflatable robot from the movie “Big Hero 6.” 

The China Daily explained: “Baymax, an angel-like warm inflatable computerized robot (and a fictional superhero) in Disney’s animated feature film Big Hero 6, has the same features as dabai, or “big white,” the ubiquitous health monitors clothed in white personal protective equipment called hazmat suits.” 

However, after Shanghai was shut down in early April, Dabai became the focus of public anger because of their role as enforcers of the Zero Covid strategy. They are often seen in viral videos engaging in absurd activities such as disinfecting empty streets and carrying out atrocities such as locking people in their homes, torturing pets, and mistreating the elderly. 

According to Bloomberg, in some severe cases, Chinese web users have referred to Dabai as a “white guard”—a term used to refer to the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Under Mao Zedong’s reign, the Red Guards performed serial murders and created economic devastation that lasted a decade until he died in 1976. 

The most shocking behavior Dabai perpetrated on video included volunteers in Shanghai’s Pudong neighborhood beating a corgi to death. The dog’s owner was placed in quarantine and forced to hand it over to the neighborhood association. Chinese authorities said that animals could act as vectors for spreading the coronavirus. 

In a viral post, a Dabai raised a megaphone and repeatedly ordered “go home” at a Shanghai man who had defied the rule and tried to walk outside. 

Bloomberg commented that such behavior highlights that volunteers are ill-equipped to deal with outbreaks and are there to carry out the orders of their superiors. For example, mark Liu volunteered to help the authorities provide essential goods to millions of residents by becoming a Dabai in Shanghai. However, he said Dabai were not even taught how to put on and remove or dispose of protective gear. 

A 48-year-old expatriate German in Shanghai who asks to be identified by his first name, Ralf told Bloomberg that talking to Dabai is like “talking to a child.” He said many of them don’t have any fundamental knowledge of Covid-19 or can meaningfully explain the rules regarding the Zero Covid policy.

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