- China has sacked and downgraded several high-ranking officials who have led the fight against the Wuhan corona virus in Hubei, the province where the virus broke out.
- It removed two top officials from their roles on Thursday, The Guardian reportedand added dozens in the past few weeks. Many have been accused of not containing the spread of the virus.
- There is widespread suspicion that the government has suppressed the information and punished the people who were pronounced.
- Experts say the layoffs are attempts to divert President Xi Jinping's blame on low-ranking officials in the worst affected areas.
- The Wuhan coronavirus has now killed 1,366 people, 60,000 of whom are infected in 25 countries.
- Further information can be found on the Business Insider homepage.
China's leadership has displaced four senior officials in Hubei province, where the deadly Wuhan corona virus broke out, in Beijing this week after reports of dissatisfaction.
On Thursday, Jiang Chaoliang, the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Hubei Province, released and replaced him with the deputy chief of the CCP in Shanghai, Ying Yong. The Guardian reported,
The CCP chief in Wuhan, Ma Guoqiang, was also fired and replaced by Shandong CCP chief Wang Zhonglin, according to The Guardian.
These falls follow a number of others that occurred earlier this week, including:
- Hubei Health Commission chairman Zhang Jin was released for "breach of duty in the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic" and received "a severe intra-party warning and a serious administrative deficit" Xinhua news agency,
- Liu Yingzi, director of the health commission, was also dropped for unknown reasons. Reuters reportedciting the country's anti-corruption agency. He and Zhang were both replaced by Wang Heshang, deputy director of the China National Health Commission.
- Xia Guohua, deputy head of the Wuhan City Statistics Bureau, was fired "because he violated applicable face mask distribution regulations," Xinhua reported.
- Tang Zhihong, director of the Huanggang City Health Commission in Hubei Province, was released because "she had an insurmountable responsibility for problems, including inadequate screening for suspected cases, slow testing progress, and lack of test personnel," said Xinhua.
Many of these officials, as well as several others, received warnings from the Communist Party and "serious administrative deficiencies".
Dozens of low-level health officials across the country have also been fired for failing to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Reuters reported.
The shots come under the general anger and distrust of Chinese citizens that the government may have suppressed the information and punished people who have spoken out.
Following the death of a doctor in Wuhan last week, which was silenced in January for warning his colleagues of the outbreak, many citizens have called for freedom of speech in the authoritarian country.
Gao Yu, a senior Beijing official who oversaw the outbreak, visited Wuhan on Wednesday and criticized the behavior of doctors "who are not performing the task ordered by the central government" China Daily reported,
The authorities announced 242 new coronavirus deaths in China late Wednesday. The total number is now 1,366, with 60,000 infected in 25 countries.
Experts say the layoffs show that President Xi Jinping is actively distracting the blame for the Beijing outbreak.
"This is clearly Xi's move," Professor Dali Yang of the University of Chicago told The Guardian on Wednesday. "There is a lot at stake and it took him time to find the right people for the positions to save the situation in Hubei, Wuhan."
So far, Xi has been noticeably absent in the fight against the virus and only appeared in several hospitals in Beijing on Monday.
"If the situation improves, he will receive recognition. If the situation worsens, Li Keqiang will be to blame," said Willy Lam, former associate professor at the University of Hong Kong in China The Guardian said,
Li is China's prime minister – Xi's right hand – who has been tasked with dealing with the Wuhan outbreak.
Rui Zhong, a China expert at the Wilson Center, said CNN before Xi's first appearance: "The central government may still be in an active process to assess when it is appropriate for Xi to take control of the coronavirus fighting efforts."
China's Politburo Standing Committee – a body made up of the country's top leadership, chaired by Xi – made the country's health care system responsible last week.
The committee said it saw "shortcomings and shortcomings in responding to this epidemic" and promised to improve the country's emergency management system.