HONG KONG -- After midnight on Sept. 18, hundreds of residents of China's southwestern city of Guiyang were dressed in protective hazmat suits and loaded onto multiple buses. They were told they had to be quarantined elsewhere as the facilities within the city were full.
The residents had been tested by local authorities for 15 consecutive days, and none of them ever tested positive for COVID-19. Still, the cash-strapped city, which had logged only one death from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, had pledged to ensure "zero positive cases" by Sept. 19 to "celebrate the successful opening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China with concrete actions." Scheduled to begin on Oct. 16, the congress, held every five years to anoint the CPC leadership, is the most important event on the country's political calendar.