Xi Jinping Admits Coronavirus Still a Problem in China

Chinese president Xi Jinping walks during a welcome ceremony for Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 3, 2019. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda has been declaring near-total victory over the coronavirus for a month, but on Wednesday Chinese dictator Xi Jinping admitted at a leadership meeting that the Wuhan virus is still a major problem in China.

As reported by state-run China Daily, Xi’s address to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee included some of the usual nationalist triumphalism and complaints about foreign coronavirus cases slipping back into supposedly pristine China, but Xi’s warnings against complacency belied a tacit understanding that China’s claims of zero infection are meant for credulous foreign reporters and international organizations, not Beijing’s decision-makers:

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, emphasized at the meeting that the steering group has fought alongside the people of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, and prioritized efforts to contain the spread of the outbreak, treat infected patients and ensure the supply of resources.

It has made the utmost effort to stem the spread of the pandemic and striven to secure the first line of defense in the country’s epidemic containment, which has showcased China’s strength, spirit and efficiency, he said, adding that the group has made important contributions to winning the people’s war against the pandemic.

However, Xi said huge uncertainties still linger over the pandemic, given that the momentum of its global spread has yet to be curbed and the country is still seeing infections among clusters of people in certain areas. 

He called for unrelenting epidemic containment measures in Hubei province even as it has switched to epidemic control and prevention efforts on a regular basis.

To that end, the Central Committee decided to send a “liaison group” to Hubei for “guidance and support,” a prospect that should make local officials, human rights activists, and citizen journalists nervous, given the CCP’s current mania for finger-pointing and crackdowns on dissent.

The state-run Xinhua news service added a bit more CCP cheerleading to its coverage, putting heavier emphasis on Xi’s implication that most of China’s coronavirus problems are coming from beyond its borders and portraying the Central Committee’s policy recommendations as improvements to a nearly flawless system:

Xi said that the group had spared no effort to curb the spread of the virus and worked hard to build a strong first line of defense, making important contributions to winning the people’s war against the epidemic.

He said the spread of the virus overseas has not been effectively curbed yet and cluster cases were reported in a few areas in China, posing considerable uncertainty to the epidemic control.

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The meeting required improving the medical and healthcare structure, reforming the disease prevention and control system, raising epidemic monitoring and early warning capabilities, strengthening public health emergency laws and regulations, and enhancing the response and treatment systems for major epidemics and public health emergencies.

Efforts should also be made to overhaul the urban and rural sanitary conditions, improve public health facilities, popularize health knowledge among the public and promote a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle, according to the meeting.

According to official CCP reports, Hubei province has not experienced a new case of the coronavirus for 33 consecutive days, and there are currently zero infected persons in the entire province.

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