SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng
Per the Economist (porous paywall), Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 “may find it hard to choose his moment to declare complete success. As people gradually get back to work, there is a risk that the virus may begin to spread more widely again in China.”
Nonetheless, the peak of the outbreak in China is “over,” according to China’s National Health Commission, Xinhua noted last Thursday (here in Chinese). Over the weekend, coronavirus infections and deaths outside of China began to outnumber those in China, according to official data, the Guardian reports.
The conspiracy theory that the virus did not originate in China — already encouraged by Chinese government officials, including top Chinese epidemiologist Zhōng Nánshān 钟南山, for more than a week now — is still being pushed.
The Trumpish, tweeting new Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 once again suggested, “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” on Twitter. There is some evidence that Chinese embassies have been given instructions to refer to the “Italian virus” or “Japanese virus” in their communications.
China is also emphasizing its efforts to offer aid and advice to other countries. While these efforts are to be commended, they are very much part of a messaging program, as you can see in articles like this Xinhua piece.
China’s apparent success is changing the global conversation. While some global public-health officials had warned that China’s “iron-fisted approach ignored worldwide norms for responding to epidemics and could make things worse,” now “the nation’s hard-line response to the pathogen is challenging decades of conventional wisdom about how best to handle infectious diseases,” according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall)