- According to many political analysts, coronavirus is the worst crisis ever faced by the Chinese government.
- More citizens are clamoring for transparency and freedom of speech.
- President Xi Jinping has rarely made public appearances since the outbreak began.
In December 2019, China started having problems with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the city of Wuhan. It didn’t take long before the mysterious disease rapidly spread to all provinces within the country.
Fast forward to the present, we now have several confirmed cases in different countries and, as of this writing, more two thousand individuals have died in China. And the virus has already been labeled by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global health emergency.
China has since been forced to lock down its borders. Flights to and from the country have been canceled. Certain areas have even been placed in quarantine so as to further prevent the spread of the outbreak. A new hospital has also been built in Wuhan, dedicated to accommodating more patients with hardworking health workers in the frontline trying to contain the difficult situation.
Still, everyone couldn’t help but ask these big questions: Is the Chinese government doing enough? And are they really winning the battle against the virus? People have varying opinions.
While some are commending President Xi Jinping, others are also throwing criticisms about how the country is managing the crisis. Some are even accusing the government of concealing real information by silencing whistleblowers.
According to University of Chicago political scientist Dali Yang:
“This is clearly a crisis of enormous proportions. Failure… will be blamed on the system and especially on Xi, who’s staked out his personal leadership role.”
Despite the government’s tendency to portray itself in positive light, not everyone will be convinced as this crisis is “of Chernobyl proportions,” added Yang. And it’s highly possible that we will have to “contend with the virus for years to come.”
Meanwhile, University of Denver political scientist Zhao Suisheng said that when it come sto the coronavirus, the public’s opinion “is now almost one-sided against the government,” pointing out that this is pretty much unprecedented.
In January, Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, admitted that the delayed information dissemination about the disease was because he had to seek permission from senior officials before he could share the data to the public. This has angered many.
On top of that, the death of whistleblower Li Wenliang has also inspired people to clamor for freedom of speech. Apparently, the physician was arrested by authorities when he tried warning everyone about the outbreak. He later passed away of the viral disease.
More recently, videos have surfaced on social media claiming that authorities have gone as far as locking infected individuals by forcibly locking their homes to “starve and die.”
For the most part, President Xi has rarely made public appearances since the outbreak. He also is not included in the task force created to battle the virus although he told WHO he had “personally directed” the government’s efforts. A report in Xinhua, however, specified that the response was “collectively directed.”
State media has likewise taken time to feature Xi, making hospital visits in Beijing while wearing a face mask.
“The longer the crisis endures, however, the greater the likelihood that the long-term credibility of the Xi government will be negatively affected more broadly within Chinese society,” said Elizabeth Economy, Asian studies director of Council on Foreign Relations.
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