Chinese diplomats have meanwhile begun a campaign — giving more than 400 media interviews and publishing more than 300 articles in recent weeks, according to China’s Foreign Ministry – to praise China’s virus control methods. State media recently celebrated the publication of a book by the central propaganda department about China’s successes against the coronavirus, titled “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combatting COVID-19 in 2020.”
The book will be published in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, according to a Feb. 26 Xinhua news release, so that the world could learn from China’s disease control methods. But at home, skepticism and anger run deep, so much so that the party has been forced to backtrack several times on its propaganda.
Critics on WeChat circulated images of the “Battle Against Epidemic” book cover with the comment “Totally shameless,” possibly prompting a reconsideration of timing for the book’s publication. As of Monday, it still was not available for purchase.
Backlashes have surfaced in other places too. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, one of the party’s highest-ranking officials, was touring a residential compound in Wuhan last week, the epidemic’s ground zero, when residents began shouting from their apartment windows: “Fake! Fake! It’s all fake!”
Local news media reported that residents were protesting because the compound’s management had done a last-minute cleanup and orchestrated a fake setup of grocery delivery to locked-down apartments, when in reality residents were being confined and neglected.
Thomas Friedman, call your office.