THROUGHOUT the Covid pandemic in China, a constant presence in the lives of its citizens have been hazmat clad lockdown enforcers.

Known as ‘Da Bai’ – or Big Whites – on account of their uniforms, they have acquired a reputation for the brutal treatment of protesters and even for welding people into their own homes.

A group of Big Whites storming a neigbourhood in Guangzghou


A group of Big Whites storming a neigbourhood in GuangzghouCredit: Reuters
One of the enforcers with a gun at an airport to stop travellers


One of the enforcers with a gun at an airport to stop travellers
Chinese homes have been welded up


Chinese homes have been welded upCredit: Twitter
A protesters being led away by some Big Whites


A protesters being led away by some Big WhitesCredit: AP

The term describes the brigades of police, medical workers and volunteers in white hazmat suits who have become ubiquitous throughout the pandemic.

China’s state media has used the term since the virus emerged in 2020 in Wuhan to soften their image.

But video has shown the faceless Big Whites brutally beating anyone who steps out of line as they enforce Chinese president Xi Jinping’s harsh ‘Zero Covid’ policy.

Summing up what many in China feel, Samuel Yu, a 40-year-old Shanghai marketing executive, said: “Those Big Whites don’t have any sense of humanity.”

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Recent video shows dozens of riot police in all-white pandemic gear, holding shields over their heads, advanced in formation in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Police were later seen escorting a row of people in handcuffs to an unknown location.

They were met by a hail of bottles, an indication of the anger felt towards them.

China’s ability to control its 1.4 billion population has helped limit its Covid death toll.

But the Communist Party has always depended on grassroots soldiers who often stray into brutality or use their new powers to spy on neighbours.

Some have referred to Dabai as ‘white guards’ in reference to the Red Guard zealots of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao, which led to mass killings until his death in 1976.

“There has always been a strong stress on collective action in China, in which individuals can have their interests subsumed by the overall needs of society,” said Rana Mitter, a professor of Chinese politics at Oxford University.

“The Big Whites also play a convenient role for the government, as they can deflect popular anger from the central authorities.”

One Big White in Shanghai, who asked not to be identified due to fears of recriminations, said he signed up online for the job and was chosen by street-level authorities.

Describing the work as “very stressful,” he said he needed to stand outside in an ill-fitting hazmat suit for as long as six hours at a time, meaning that he can’t really drink water or go to the toilet.

The volunteer said he was told not to sit unless it seemed like he was going to collapse.

At the very beginning of the lockdown in early 2020, footage emerged which appeared to show coronavirus patients being welded inside their homes.

The policy of keeping people imprisoned in their homes has seen devastating consequences.

Footage recently emerged of a daughter screaming for help after her mum allegedly plunged to her death from their 12th-floor flat which was “welded in” during a new Covid lockdown.

It shows the 29-year-old trying to get to her mother’s body after she allegedly took her own life.

Other images show the horrifying moment screaming women are carried off to Covid quarantine camps in China by hazmat wearing officials.

In October shocking footage emerged of machine gun wielding Big Whites herding families at an airport in Yunnan Province.

The Big Whites have also been involved in the disturbances at the world’s biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou.

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A wall of them were seen blocking workers from fleeing after the plant was placed in lockdown.

Haunting footage shared on Twitter showed their latest attempt, as hundreds of employees marched down the empty motorway.

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