TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In his first public appearance since meeting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen five days ago, Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) was seen wearing a surgical mask on a street in Beijing on Monday (Feb. 10).
The trip coincides with a simmering rage across the country as more Chinese cities are put on lockdown amid the revelation that the communist regime's whitewash of the ongoing epidemic caused a delay in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan.
Public dissatisfaction was brought to a climax with the death of Li Wenliang (李文亮), a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital who had tried to issue the first warning about the deadly coronavirus outbreak late last year only to be silenced by the Chinese authorities.
However, the leader of the country of 1.38 billion is believed to have been sitting in comfort over the past few weeks, merely assigning tasks from his office.
On Monday afternoon, Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency published a story about Xi's visit to a hospital and street in Beijing's largest suburb, Chaoyang District, known as the home to the country's most expensive green space, which is surrounded by high-end shopping malls and mansions.
Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily also covered the story, but the page's layout is believed to be sending a dissenting message to the leader: "Go to Wuhan!"
In this screenshot of the mobile version of the People's Daily dated Feb. 10, the post about Xi's visit in Chaoyang District went up with a picture of a medical worker preparing to check Xi's temperature, followed by another post by the publication's regular editorial that read "Go to Wuhan!"
The arrangement is seen by some Chinese media as being deliberately designed to imply that the Chinese leader should join the 16,000 volunteer medical workers and experts from other Chinese cities who are dedicated to the "war against the virus" on the front line and to demonstrate what "shouldering responsibility is."
However, a UDN commentary piece holds a different view, saying Beijing is intentionally directing criticism at the local Hubei government, instead of the central government, in order to limit the damage by permitting the people's backlash against Hubei officials for their incompetence in preventing the spread of the virus.
In addition, the article claims Beijing is trying to divert people's attention from the outbreak by flexing its muscles and sending military aircraft to cross into Taiwanese airspace as relations between the two countries grow more tense over issues such as Taiwan's exclusion from WHO meetings, the U.S.'s voicing support for the island nation, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's warning about Chinese infiltration in the American government.