China Punishes over a Dozen Officials in Face of Coronavirus Failure

Health workers go back to work after after a break at La Fe hospital on March 25, 2020, in Valencia. - Spain has signed a multi-million-euro contract with China to acquire medical supplies to fight the coronavirus epidemic, the health minister said today. Worth some 432 million euros ($467 million), …
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The Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to minimize the latest wave of coronavirus infections have not been successful. So, on Tuesday, the northeastern province of Heilongjiang made a show of chastising 16 officials for “neglecting their duties in the viral fight,” as the state-run Global Times put it.

The Global Times portrayed the accusations of negligence against the 16 officials as merely another triumph for China’s amazingly efficient system of government, claiming it was “seen by many as the latest example of China’s increasingly strict accountability mechanism to build strong state governance and Party discipline.”

To a less forgiving observer, it looks more like a theatrical hunt for scapegoats, with vague and subjective allegations of malfeasance and no real indication of the consequences for the accused:

Of the 16 officials, key officials including Wang Shumi and Zhao Guoli — two deputy heads of Wangkui county, the epicenter of this outbreak, which is administered by the city of Suihua — and Sun Zhiyong, a member of the Standing Committee of Communist Party of China Wangkui Committee, as well as Chen Liyao, the head of the health department of Wangkui county, are on the list, according to the discipline inspection commission of Suihua, Heilongjiang on Tuesday.

The local commission slammed the 16 officials’ lack of political stance, saying they had been irresponsible and paralyzed in their thoughts. Their “formalism and bureaucracy” in the epidemic prevention and control work had led to a clustered epidemic in the county. They bear “unshirkable responsibility” for the existence and spread of the epidemic in the province, the notice said.


Also on Tuesday, two hospitals in Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province — the People’s Hospital of Gaocheng district and the traditional Chinese medicine hospital of Xinle — were publicly criticized by the joint anti-epidemic group led by the State Council, the nation’s cabinet. The two hospitals failed to implement anti-epidemic procedures, according to a notice put up on the website of the National Health Commission. 

“A number of officials across the nation — including city mayors and local health commission directors — have been punished for wrongdoings in the viral fight since last year. Some were accused of drinking alcohol, while others disregarded the sufferings of the people,” the Global Times added.

The report concluded with a pat on the head for the “many ordinary Chinese” who supposedly rushed to assure the Global Times they personally witnessed the amazing dedication of “high-level and grassroots officials” to the battle against Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus], and how they continue to invest “great hopes on them to help the public get through the difficult times.”

Reuters noted Monday that the current outbreak in China features record numbers of new cases reported in some areas and the overall highest number of cases since March, although the numbers posted by Chinese authorities are still far lower than any other large country in the world. Over 22 million Chinese are now under lockdown despite only a few dozen infections reported daily from each affected province.


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