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China’s Truckers Fake Records to Outwit Covid Curbs

While some lorry drivers try to use hi-tech sleight of hand to dodge the restrictions, some desperate travellers are simply trying to hide in their cars

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A truck transports new Tesla cars from its factory in Shanghai. The company faces a recall of 127,000 cars to fix a problem linked to computer chips, Chinese officials have said. Photo: Reuters.


Chinese truck drivers hoping to outwit Covid-19 inspectors are faking travel histories to get through checkpoints or avoid quarantine, state media reported, as weary citizens struggle with restrictions more than two years after the pandemic began.

While some lorry drivers try to use hi-tech sleight of hand to dodge the restrictions, some desperate travellers are simply trying to hide in their cars to get where they want to go.

Authorities across China have tightened Covid-19 curbs this month as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads, triggering lockdowns in Shanghai and all of Jilin province in the northeast.

Many regional authorities have barred travellers, including long-distance truck drivers, from high-risk areas, while some have to spend time in quarantine, complicating lives and disrupting China’s sprawling transport system.

Not surprisingly, there are people who try to game the system.

In Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province and a major northeastern transport hub, nearly 100 truckers have been punished for trying to trick inspectors with mobile phones loaded with fake travel histories, state media reported.

Often one phone, tucked away, contains a driver’s real travel history, including locations with positive Covid-19 cases marked with a star, while another phone, ready for presentation at checkpoints, shows a fake travel history with not a star in sight.

Truckers for a logistics company aiming to get into another Liaoning city were caught trying to key phone numbers of people with “clean” travel histories, provided by their employer, into their phones to fool inspectors, Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

Some travellers hoping to reach the capital, Beijing, have hired substitute drivers with untainted travel histories to drive their vehicles through checkpoints, while they sneak through the woods beside the road on foot to reclaim their cars on the other side.

Substitute drivers can earn up to 2,000 yuan ($315) per trip, the Beijing city government said this week. Other travellers resort to just trying to hide in their cars to get through checkpoints, it said.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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