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PostCoronavirus Epidemic and the CPC Coverup: Is Xi at Risk? (Paul Levine, Denmark, 02/11/20 2:03 pm)
I'm not surprised by Timothy Ashby's revelations (February 11th) about the Coronavirus epidemic in China. The CPC has lied about so many self-created disasters over the years--The Great Famine, The Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Massacre--that it is incapable of telling the truth. For years it underreported pollution in Chinese cities, so why should it be embarrassed by underreporting coronavirus victims by a factor of ten?
Problems began when the regimes remained silent for two weeks after the first cases of the virus were reported. A Wuhan doctor alerted a few colleagues but was reprimanded by the local police and forced to retract his alert. Shortly after, Dr. Li contracted the virus and died. The angry public reaction to his reprimand and death was cataclysmic. Bill Bishop, proprietor of the excellent China blog called Sinocism, explained last week:
Social media is blowing up over the news that Wuhan whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang has died. This is from the Global Times, in a now deleted report: Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistleblowers who tried to warn other medics of the coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by local police, dies of coronavirus on Thursday in Wuhan, the Global Times has learned.
But in a morbid twist it appears that the relevant authorities, probably after seeing the online uproar, may not be allowing him to die officially yet. There has been quite the back and forth about whether or not he has actually passed. I saw reports from The Global Times, Caixin and The Beijing News that he had died; those are now gone. If they got it wrong then heads will role for making such a consequential “political error.” But from other reports on Wechat it sounds like the order came from above to keep him “alive.” It is all just so dark.
The reports of Li’s death, true or not, are crystallizing deep anger and frustration. The Party’s social contract with the people—-ensuring the people’s well being and providing ever-increasing economic prosperity--is being stressed on a nationwide level in ways I don’t recall in the past several decades. Last Friday I wrote that "this is as close to an existential crisis for Xi and the Party that I think we have seen since 1989," and I think it is even more so a week later.
Now, just a few days later, the official death toll has surpassed one thousand as the regime reluctantly invited WHO experts to help combat the disaster. Here loss of face is trumped by loss of life. Meanwhile yesterday several senior provincial officials were fired for incompetence or worse. At the same time, President Xi Jinping, wearing a mask, made a rare public appearance in Beijing. Before he had assigned his Prime Minister to lead the fight against the virus in an attempt to distance himself from responsibility. When citizens wondered at Xi's absence, he stated that he was in fact in charge of the regime's efforts to combat the epidemic. Since becoming the leader, Xi has worked brutally to replace the CPC committee structure of governing with one-man rule. He became Emperor Xi Dada.
In the past weeks, social media has been full of angry attacks on local and provincial mismanagement. But attempts to include the Central Government have been abruptly censored. Until now. But for the first time a leading scholar, Xu Zhangrun, charges Xi with responsibility for the regime's failures. This follows another public attack on Xi by another scholar, Xu Zhiyong, who called for Xi to resign. More grievously he said that Xi is "not very smart." He is surely correct. The deification of Xi Jinping is a lovely farce that resembles H. C. Andersen's tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes." Henceforth Xi Jinping should be called Xi NVS.
JE comments: Many thanks to veteran China-watcher Paul Levine for this insight. Paul's is one of several analyses to suggest that Xi's bungling of the epidemic endangers his iron grip on power. Could popular outrage be enough to oust him? Wouldn't there first be the need for someone in the inner circle to turn against him?
Paul, I hope you'll keep us updated.