The coronavirus continued to occupy the attention of all party bodies and media outlets this week. Xi Jinping’s public appearance in Beijing conveyed his engagement with those on the front lines of epidemic control efforts and his concern for the experiences of average citizens. A Politburo Standing Committee meeting discussed how to control the epidemic while maintaining economic stability. Meanwhile, the Party replaced senior officials in Hubei Province (see Organization Work section).
People's Daily Commentator Articles on Coronavirus Outbreak
2.8-14 A series of People’s Daily commentator articles focused on different aspects of the government response to the coronavirus outbreak, drawing themes from Xi Jinping’s remarks on 3 & 10 February.
8 February’s commentary focused on the use of science and technology and the need for “scientifically demonstrating the source of the virus, ascertaining as quickly as possible the source of the virus and its channels for spreading, closely tracking the circumstances of the virus’ mutation, and promptly researching strategies and measures for prevention and control.”
9 February’s commentary focused on social and economic stability: “doing epidemic prevention and control work well is directly related to the stability of general economic and social conditions; maintaining the normal economic and social order is important for ensuring an effective response to a major epidemic situation.” The article also listed issues to pay attention to, including returning to work and production, guaranteeing supplies of foodstuffs and basic necessities and a steady power supply, ensuring unimpeded transportation, and cracking down on criminal activity.
10 February’s commentary focused on the psychological impact of the coronavirus epidemic, telling local governments to refer to a new official guide on emergency psychological crisis intervention, make use of counseling hotlines, and coordinate with relevant ministries and schools to provide mental health services. It noted that mental health is particularly relevant for frontline medical workers, staff, cadres, and researchers, and noted the importance of propaganda to maintain public morale.
11 February’s commentary summarized public remarks Xi Jinping made in Beijing the day prior, on the second page to make room for the main coverage of Xi’s Beijing activities and directives. The article called for a brave and unified response to the epidemic and continued the theme of a “people’s war” with military metaphors, referring to healthcare workers as “pillars of strength on the firing line” and community-level health measures as “a staunch fort of epidemic prevention and control.”
12 February’s commentary focused on Xi’s encouragement to front-line healthcare workers in Wuhan via video-chat on 10 February. While describing the duty of the whole country in addressing the outbreak, it particularly praised the bravery and hard work of Hubei and Wuhan party members, cadres, and the masses as they “enthusiastically answered the party center’s call” to work fighting the epidemic.
13 February’s commentary called for a “double victory” over both the coronavirus epidemic and targets for social and economic development, responding to a 12 February Politburo meeting that emphasized mitigating the coronavirus’ economic effects as well as Xi’s 10 February remarks on the topic. The article made clear that it was still the duty of all levels of government to have a “comprehensive plan” (统筹兼顾) to realize the 13th Five-Year Plan (“十三五”规划), meet the goal of comprehensively establishing a moderately prosperous society, and maintain the “six stabilities” (六稳). It provided a list of areas to focus on, such as spurring investment and ensuring a return to production.
14 February’s commentary told readers, “do not relax,” and stated that, having reached the most strenuous stage in epidemic control and prevention, it is imperative that those engaged in arresting the virus must not relax their focus.
While Investigating and Giving Guidance on Coronavirus Outbreak Prevention and Control Work in Beijing, Xi Jinping Emphasizes: Through Steadier Faith, Firmer Willpower, and More Decisive Measures, Decisively Win the People’s War, Overall Battle, and Defensive Battalion for Epidemic Prevention and Control
2.10 On 10 February, Xi Jinping made a public appearance in Beijing to oversee epidemic prevention and control work and call for “resolutely winning the people’s war, overall battle, and defensive battle (人民战争、总体战、阻击战) for epidemic prevention and control.”
He visited a neighborhood, hospital, and disease control and prevention center with Beijing Party Committee Secretary Cai Qi (蔡奇) and Mayor Chen Jining (陈吉宁). Xi emphasized that “neighborhoods (社区) are at the front line of joint [efforts] for epidemic prevention and control” and that guarding them would effectively contain the spread of the epidemic. During his visit to the hospital, he conducted a video call with medical workers, party cadres, and PLA commanders in Wuhan, during which he stressed that “the whole Party, military, country, and people from all ethnic groups are standing with people of Hubei Province and Wuhan.”
He listed five main tasks for containing the spread of the epidemic: 1. “Firmly achieving the ‘admit as many [possible infected patients] as possible’ (应收尽收) [task],” referring to tracing the source of infection, identifying possible cases, and admitting patients to hospitals; 2. “Making an all-out effort to do treatment work well”; 3. “Comprehensively strengthening social management and control”; 4. “Strengthening public opinion guidance work”; and 5. “Consolidating unified command over epidemic prevention and control work.”
Li Keqiang Chairs a Meeting With the Central Leading Group on the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus Epidemic, Calling for Ensuring Provisions of Medical Supplies, Allocating Medical Workers, and Strengthening Drug Development
2.10 Premier and head of the Central Leading Group on the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus Epidemic Li Keqiang hosted a central leading group meeting, which highlighted two urgent matters in regards to the epidemic. First, it stressed the need for local officials to ensure the supply of medical protection clothing and masks for the frontline medical staff. In order to do so, the meeting called for supporting enterprises in adopting new technologies and expanding their production of raw materials, relevant equipment, and medical supplies. With regards to medical staff, the meeting praised their “dedication spirit, professional ethics, and high sense of responsibility” and stressed to improve their working conditions and physical and mental health.
Second, the meeting emphasized the importance of strengthening scientific research and development of new coronavirus drugs, vaccines, and improving detection technology and products. Under the “strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core,” each unit should be on duty “24 hours a day” to guarantee supply of daily necessities and to maintain social stability in order to “win the battle of epidemic prevention and control.”
Politburo Standing Committee Convenes Meeting Analyzing the Coronavirus Outbreak Situation, Research to Strengthen Prevention and Control: Xi Jinping Presiding
2.12 A 12 February Politburo meeting heard reports from the Central Leading Group on the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus Epidemic, analyzed the current situation of the outbreak and research to strengthen epidemic response work, and heard an important speech from Xi Jinping.
The meeting indicated that the capability to treat patients must be increased, and cities with many suspected cases should increase the number of hospital treatment beds and quarantine spaces available, speed up the diagnosis of suspected cases, and try to “accept as many [patients] as needed, treat as many as needed” (应收尽收、应治尽治). In addition to taking earlier and stricter measures of reporting and control, it is of particular importance to raise the level of care for patients in critical condition, concentrate medical advantages and technology on patients, promptly popularize effective diagnosis and treatment plans, and increase efforts to conduct scientific research on medicine and vaccine. Shortages of supplies, workers, and beds are severe in Hubei, especially Wuhan, and must be addressed there with the help of other provinces and cities.
Factories must resume or take up the production of medical supplies, and food supplies must be ensured through maintaining transportation and proper management of the spring sowing season. The meeting emphasized economic issues, and said policies must address the economic impact of the outbreak, such as by giving preferable interest rates to medical supply companies and improving tax policy and social insurance for small and medium businesses. Policies to stimulate domestic consumption, investment, and foreign trade are also all necessary.
Xi Jinping Presides over 12th Meeting of Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, Emphasizes Improving Major Epidemic Prevention and Control Systems and Mechanisms, Robust National Public Health Emergency Administrative System; Li Keqiang, Wang Huning, Han Zheng Attend
2.14 At a meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, Xi Jinping discussed current and future work on the coronavirus response. Describing the epidemic as a “major test for the nation’s governance system and governance capabilities,” Xi called for learning from the outbreak, “paying special attention to repairing weak points, plugging holes, and strengths and weaknesses.” In the legal realm, Xi called for “comprehensively strengthening and improving the construction of relevant public health laws and regulations,” including in the realm of biological security (生物安全). In the realm of disease prevention and control, he called for improving the system of cultivating, admitting, employing, paying, evaluating, and incentivizing professional health staff, emphasized the importance of improving the medical insurance system and the mechanism for emergency medical treatment, and issued a general call for “reforming and improving the major epidemic prevention, treatment, and control system.” Moving forward, Xi called for a more integrated system for guaranteeing the supply of goods in emergencies, as well as a centralized production and dispatch mechanism for current shortages.
Following Xi’s remarks, the meeting turned to economic issues. After passing a summary of work concluded in 2019 and a document of essential points for work in 2020, the committee pointed out that “in order to accelerate the refinement of the socialist market economic system in the new era, it is necessary to comprehensively implement the new development concept, firmly display the market’s decisive role in resource allocation, better display the role of the government, deepen marketization reform, [and] expand high-level opening,” among other measures. The meeting called for improving the sustainability and fairness of the national system of old age insurance, strengthening intellectual property rights protections and incentives, and loosening restrictions on access to the services industry, among other measures. The meeting concluded by noting that 2020 was the final year for comprehensively developing a moderately prosperous society and the thirteenth five-year plan and issuing a call for favoring practicality over “formalism (形式主义) and bureaucracy (官僚主义)” in meeting economic goals.
Wang Hesheng Is Appointed Party Secretary and Director of Hubei Province Health Commission, Replacing Both Zhang Jin and Liu Yingzi
CPC News & Hubei Daily
2.11 The Hubei Province People’s Congress Standing Committee appointed Wang Hesheng (王贺胜) as director of the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, replacing Liu Yingzi (刘英姿), who was removed from the post. Hubei Provincial Party Committee Standing Committee also appointed Wang as secretary of the provincial health commission’s leadership group, replacing Zhang Jin (张晋).
Wang had been appointed a member of the Hubei Provincial Party Committee Standing Committee earlier in February 2020. Since 2016, he was the deputy director and a party leadership group member of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (reorganized as the National Health Commission in 2018). Wang also led the State Council Medical Reform Office since 2016.
Ying Yong Is Appointed Hubei Provincial Party Secretary, Replacing Jiang Chaoliang; Wang Zhonglin Is Appointed Member of Hubei Province Standing Committee and Secretary of Wuhan Municipal Committee, Replacing Ma Guoqiang
2.13 The Party center appointed Ying Yong (应勇) as a new member, standing committee member, and secretary of the Hubei Provincial Party Committee, removing Jiang Chaoliang (蒋超良) from all three positions. Ying is a member of the 19th Central Committee. His past positions included deputy secretary of the Zhejiang Province Discipline Inspection Commission, director of the Zhejiang Supervision Department, and mayor of Shanghai. Central Organization Department deputy head Wu Yuliang (吴玉良) announced the new appointment and said that the decision was made in light of the requirements of epidemic prevention and control work.
Wang Zhonglin (王忠林) was appointed a member and standing committee member of the Hubei Provincial Party Committee, and the Municipal Party Committee Secretary of Wuhan, replacing Ma Guoqiang (马国强) in all three positions. Ma was also removed from the office of deputy secretary of the Hubei Provincial Party Committee. Prior to this appointment, Wang was a standing committee member of the Shandong Provincial Party Committee, the Secretary of the Jinan Municipal Party Committee, and president of the municipal committee’s Party School. He was also the former mayor of Jinan.
2.10 Zhou Xuewen (周学文) was appointed vice minister of emergency management, vice minister of water resources, and a member of the Party groups of the Ministries of Emergency Management and Water Resources.
2.10 Liu Wei (刘伟) was appointed vice minister of emergency management and a member of the Party group of the Ministry of Emergency Management.
2.10 Liu Huanxin (刘焕鑫) was appointed vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs.
2.10 Zhou Huiguo (周晖国) was appointed deputy head of the National Intellectual Property Administration.
2.10 Qiu Yong (邱勇) was appointed vice president of the China Academy of Engineering Physics.
2.10 Mo Zeyao (莫则尧) was appointed vice president of the China Academy of Engineering Physics.
2.10 Lai Xinchun (赖新春) was appointed chief engineer of the China Academy of Engineering Physics.
2.10 Niu Zhijun (牛之俊) was appointed deputy head of the China Geological Survey.
2.10 Wang Kun (王昆) was appointed deputy head of the China Earthquake Administration.
2.13 Xia Baolong (夏宝龙), the vice chairman and secretary-general of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, was appointed director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.
2.13 Zhang Xiaoming (张晓明) was appointed deputy director in charge of daily operations of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, a demotion from his position as director of the office.
2.13 Luo Huining (骆惠宁), the director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, was appointed deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.
2.13 Fu Ziying (傅自应), the director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region, was appointed deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.