Media Outlets Examine China’s Response To Novel Coronavirus, Impact Of Bureaucratic Structures

The Guardian: Taking credit, avoiding blame? Xi Jinping’s absence from coronavirus frontline
“The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has been noticeably absent from public view as his government scrambles to fight the coronavirus outbreak … His most recent public appearance was on 28 January when he met the director general of the World Health Organization in Beijing and said he was ‘personally commanding’ the response to the outbreak. Yet Xi does not appear to be the face of the government’s fight against the virus. … For a leader whose face and words decorate banners and signs across the country and feature in state media daily, the low-key approach during a time of national crisis seems out of character…” (Kuo, 2/4).

New York Times: Coronavirus Crisis Shows China’s Governance Failure
“…So many officials have denied responsibility that some online users joke that they are watching a passing-the-buck competition. … The Chinese people are getting a rare glimpse of how China’s giant, opaque bureaucratic system works — or, rather, how it fails to work. Too many of its officials have become political apparatchiks, fearful of making decisions that anger their superiors and too removed and haughty when dealing with the public to admit mistakes and learn from them…” (Yuan, 2/4).

Quartz: The coronavirus reveals China’s weakness in handling public health crises
“…This pattern of initial downplay by local authorities and draconian interventions from the central government is a familiar one. … So why does China seem to make the same mistake over and over even though the state shares the same goal as the international community in addressing public health crises? This special episode of Because China dives deep into why China keeps failing at identifying emerging problems and communicating critical public health information. The problem is baked into the way China’s bureaucratic structure is set up” (Niu/Lin, 2/4).

Wall Street Journal: China Marshals Its Surveillance Powers Against Coronavirus
“…China’s government has launched an unprecedented effort to track the fast-spreading virus … Much of the work is being done by armies of neighborhood monitors and managers of residential complexes, tasked with checking on people believed to have recently traveled to Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and reporting their findings to authorities. But the human virus trackers have help. Authorities are sifting through information from phone companies, railroads, and airlines as they tackle the country’s biggest public-health crisis since an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, almost two decades ago…” (Lin/Jie, 2/4).

Additional coverage of China’s response to the novel coronavirus is available from CNN, NPR, Quartz, and Washington Post (2).