There is a rule of thumb, perhaps universal, that central government gets to claim all successes, but local officials take the fall for failure.
Hundreds of local officials have reportedly done the latter over the response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak (via BBC). This number includes Zhang Jin, party secretary for the Hubei Health Commission, and Liu Yingzi, head of the commission, according to state media. These are the two most senior officials to date to be removed from post.
Wang Hesheng, deputy head of the National Health Commission, will assume both roles. Wang was appointed to the provincial standing committee last week.
The deputy director of the local Red Cross organisation was also removed over the ‘handling of donations’ amid a warning to charities by Guo Linmao, an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, over any irregularities or lack of transparency.
Separately, the National Supervisory Commission, the top anti-corruption agency, is investigating Wuhan police reprimands of the late Dr Li Wenliang after he became one of the first doctors who tried to share information about the coronavirus.
Social media has of late been allowed to be uncommonly critical of the Wuhan municipal and Hubei provincial authorities for initially covering up the outbreak, even if any criticism of central government’s response remains censored.
A statement last month by Zhou Xianwang, mayor of Wuhan, in a TV interview claiming that Beijing was partly responsible for the initial cover-up of the outbreak as local governments need central government authorisation to disclose contagion-related information will, no doubt, be publicly forgotten, if not privately.