TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A tightly cropped image of Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) appearing to show him sitting alone has surfaced on social media since his visit to Wuhan on Tuesday (March 10).
The photo was taken from the window of a nearby building as Xi sat in front of what Chinese state-run media claimed was the Huoshenshan Hospital, which was hastily built during the early stages of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Once inside, he reportedly offered "cordial greetings" to the medical staff and patients behind the safety of a massive monitor.
However, many questioned whether Xi was actually in front of the hospital, as previous images of the structure showed it to be made of white prefabricated cubes, while this building had an aged, brick exterior. Others questioned whether the large, lavishly carpeted interior from which he spoke to patients was indeed part of the originally Spartan structure.
Xi Jinping in Wuhan. No one was allowed near him. pic.twitter.com/GYWC53llVQ— Augustus (@1984to1776) March 11, 2020
At first glance, the image itself seems to show Xi sitting all alone looking depressed, prompting netizens to title the photo "lonely dictator" and "last emperor." However, a wider angle reveals that he was not entirely alone but that he was indeed maintaining a significant distance between himself and party cadres.
Although Xi's visit was meant to convey the message that the outbreak in Wuhan was winding down, many netizens pointed out that the fact that he was still wearing a mask meant that the leaders must be aware that there is still some degree of danger. In particular, the fact that Xi was so far away from others in photos such as this, even standing far from the monitor once inside the "hospital," made many question the extent to which the virus had been brought under control.
Opinion, Xi Jinping was surrounded by the masses in front of a hospital sign to make it look like he is actually at the hospital...its just an apartment nowhere near the hospital...the sign was recent added too...what do you think? pic.twitter.com/2CsqzQ7U5o— Harry Chen PhD (@PhdParody) March 10, 2020
After leaving Huoshenshan hospital, the next stop on Xi's victory tour was the Wuhan Kaiyuan Mansion Community in the city's Qingshan District, where Vice Premier Sun Chunlan (孫春蘭) was berated by residents the previous week. Chinese Communist Party officials left nothing to chance this time, with Wuhan police officers allegedly stationed in each home and many told to stand on their balconies and give a warm wave to Xi.