Why China’s Boasts About Containing COVID-19 Could Backfire

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, right, walks near the Monument to the People’s Heroes during a ceremony to mark Martyr’s Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, right, walks near the Monument to the People’s Heroes during a ceremony to mark Martyr’s Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).
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When the world first started learning about the outbreak of a dangerously contagious new respiratory virus in the city of Wuhan, in central China, the Chinese government was defensive and secretive about it. Many foreign commentators were quick to cast China’s reaction as a metaphor for the inherent weaknesses of an authoritarian system. Under the constantly tightening grip of its power-monopolizing leader, Xi Jinping, we were told, bad news has had an increasingly hard time traveling from China’s provinces to the capital in Beijing, and from there, into the higher echelons of the chain of command in the Communist Party. […]

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