Chinese President Xi Jinping is supposedly ‘directing’ the efforts against coronavirus, but he has not been seen in a long time, prompting rumors about his health and whereabouts.
Since he first intervened in the Wuhan coronavirus crisis in late January, ordering “all-out efforts” to contain its spread, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been personally directing the country’s response.
At least, that’s what state media has been repeatedly emphasizing — Xi himself has not been seen for several days, missing from his usual place of prominence on the front page of the state-owned People’s Daily newspaper and in the nightly newscast on state broadcaster CCTV.
This is weird, not only because a country’s leader is normally front and center during a crisis, but because Xi typically dominates media coverage at the best of times, regardless of how seemingly routine his activities are. Since he came to power in 2012, the People’s Daily especially has become known for running multiple headlines about Xi and plastering not only the front page but several after it with nearly identical pictures of him shaking hands with various officials.
Xi’s vanishing act has not gone unnoticed in China, where many are asking questions on social media — most of which are swiftly deleted by censors. Outside of the country, particularly among dissident communities, rampant speculation is growing, as those desperate to see the back of Xi spread wild, wholly unfounded claims.
Nor is this the first time “Xi is missing” has become a story. When an authoritarian government concentrates power around a single figure, the way China has around Xi during the past eight years, even the slightest removal of that figure from the spotlight will spark a degree of chatter. (source)
Given the current state of events, it does not matter as much about what has happened with him, as his lack of public appearances gives the impression to the world that China does not care about her people. When this is juxtaposed against events such as the Chinese government stealing facemasks from the public, or rounding up her own citizens, it worsens her political crisis and just serves to isolate her more from the rest of the world.