Wuhan residents decry 'fake' help as official tours city

Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan (left) was visiting Wuhan when residents apparently criticised how the local authorities handled the crisis. PHOTO: XINHUA
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan (left) was visiting Wuhan when residents apparently criticised how the local authorities handled the crisis. PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • Video clips showing residents at the centre of China's coronavirus epidemic haranguing a top Chinese official have highlighted persistent anger at how the authorities have handled the crisis.

The clips, which have been circulating online since Thursday, show occupants of an apartment block in the city of Wuhan yelling "it is all fake" from windows during an official neighbourhood inspection by Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan.

According to Chinese media, the complaints were an outcry against the community's property management, who were allegedly only pretending to have volunteers deliver vegetables and meat to inhabitants of the towers in the city that is under lockdown.

China's censors, usually quick to scrub any criticism of government officials, have allowed the homemade video clips to remain on Weibo, the country's Twitter-like social media platform. But the central government appears to be seizing on the clips to craft a narrative that Beijing is listening to the demands of its people and that the local authorities are to blame for the mistakes.

State news agency Xinhua reported late on Thursday that Ms Sun had asked for "in-depth investigations" to address problems raised by Wuhan residents, although there was no mention of the video.

With no end in sight to the quarantine, which began in the city of 11 million people on Jan 23, many residents are depending on online group-buying services to get food.

Supermarkets and neighbourhood committees have scrambled to fill orders as demand rocketed.

The nationalistic Global Times said yesterday that the local government in Wuhan has been ordered to "investigate and solve the problem immediately".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2020, with the headline 'Wuhan residents decry 'fake' help as official tours city'. Subscribe