Recently a small group of Chinese residents were sitting outside in the town of Chengdu. A small drone approached them, hovered nearby and began to speak.

"Playing mahjong outside is banned during the epidemic," said a voice from the drone. "You have been spotted. Stop playing and leave the site as soon as possible." "Don't look at the drone, child," it continued. "Ask your father to leave immediately."

For many in the rest of the world, what China's Global Times described as a "creative use" of drones to tackle its coronavirus outbreak may still sound like a scene from a futuristic dystopia. Those in power in Beijing, however, clearly view it as something to be proud of. The video was shared widely on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and showcased in its English-language media for consumption abroad.