People In Beijing Emerge From 2 Months Of Coronavirus Lockdown An outbreak of the new coronavirus is fading in China, just in time for spring. And so people are finally emerging from their apartments after two months of lockdowns.
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People In Beijing Emerge From 2 Months Of Coronavirus Lockdown

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People In Beijing Emerge From 2 Months Of Coronavirus Lockdown

People In Beijing Emerge From 2 Months Of Coronavirus Lockdown

People In Beijing Emerge From 2 Months Of Coronavirus Lockdown

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An outbreak of the new coronavirus is fading in China, just in time for spring. And so people are finally emerging from their apartments after two months of lockdowns.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And now a glimpse into a possible brighter future for us. In China, people are finally emerging from their homes after two months of coronavirus lockdowns. NPR's Emily Feng went to a Beijing park, where the sounds of the city are slowly returning just in time for spring.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: Xie Yuyin is hanging upside down from a tree when I first meet her in Beijing's Temple of Earth park.

XIE YUYIN: (Speaking Chinese).

FENG: She insists she's not dizzy upside down, then practices a few acrobatic twists and turns, all while hanging by her hands from the branches.

XIE: (Speaking Chinese).

FENG: Ms. Xie tells me I'm young and just need practice. Then I, too, can be up in the branches with her. The 55-year-old canteen worker used to come to the park frequently. Then the coronavirus outbreak hit, and she shut herself inside for two months, like hundreds of millions of other Chinese residents.

XIE: (Speaking Chinese).

FENG: But then the weather got warm these last few days, and she needed to get out and move, she says. She just couldn't stay inside anymore.

Beijing's parks are an oasis, a rare public space for people to ribbon dance, play checkers and practice tai chi. But in January and February, they were deserted. More than 80,000 people across China were sickened with the virus, and strict quarantine measures locked down villages and cities, including Beijing. Now new case counts are dropping in China, and some quarantine restrictions are even being loosened. So Beijing's sun-deprived residents are turning out once again.

(SOUNDBITE OF KICKING HACKY SACK)

FENG: The rhythmic thwack of Chinese hacky sack, or jianzi, is once again ubiquitous.

(SOUNDBITE OF KICKING HACKY SACK)

FENG: Small groups carefully cluster more than a meter away from each other in the park, kicking the feathered jianzi to one another. A group of 70-year-olds is clearly the most expert. Their members unleash spinning kicks, deftly keeping the jianzi airborne.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Chinese).

FENG: "You need to move more," one of the players kindheartedly advises me. She says jianzi, not medicine, healed her teammates' various ailments.

A short walk away, under the eaves of a Ming Dynasty-style gazebo, 63-year-old Yang Jiancheng is strumming a ruan, an ancient four-stringed mandolin-like instrument.

(SOUNDBITE OF STRUMMING RUAN)

YANG JIANCHENG: (Speaking Chinese).

FENG: Mr. Yang tells me, "You jam well with me; we play together. You jam better with another person, no problem."

(SOUNDBITE OF STRUMMING RUAN)

FENG: Mr. Yang has got some competition today. A troupe of singers sits near him, drowning out his strumming with operatic ballads.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in Chinese).

FENG: Du Xin looks wistfully at the troupe. She's a regular singer here at the park, but today, she carefully stands a good three meters away and sings to herself through a face mask.

DU XIN: (Singing in Chinese).

(Speaking Chinese).

FENG: Du Xin says she learned many of the songs by ear during the violent upheaval of China's Cultural Revolution during the 1960s and '70s, when politically sanctioned ballads were played on loudspeakers day and night.

DU: (Singing in Chinese).

FENG: Today, she sings a more modern aria from the Chinese epic "Dream Of The Red Chamber." The song's about a sickly young woman gathering dying blossoms for burial.

DU: (Speaking Chinese)

FENG: "The lyrics are so tragic, but they're so beautiful," she says. Du Xin likes the emotional ballads the best because she says singing about difficult experiences gives her insight about herself.

Emily Feng, NPR News, Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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