A push by the Chinese Communist Party to have Wuhan residents express their “gratitude” for the government’s handling of the coronavirus has backfired, according to The South China Morning Post. The government measures were met with strong criticism by the public — especially on social media — causing officials to backtrack from their earlier plans.
Originally, the Communist Party had planned on implementing a “gratitude education campaign” with the intended goal being that the residents of Wuhan — which has been the purported epicenter of the virus — would praise the government’s actions in the epidemic.
“[We must] be grateful for the general secretary [Xi] and the Communist Party,” proclaimed Wang Zhonglin, the city’s party chief.
“[We must] listen to the party, follow the party,” he added, while praising the government’s response.
However, the Middle Kingdom has been widely criticized both nationally and beyond for its handling of the disease. From the beginning, doctors had been reportedly silenced and arrested by the government for sounding the alarm about the disease. During the height of the crisis, dead bodies lined the streets of Wuhan while living residents were allegedly welded into their homes in jarring scenes described by The Washington Post.
Accordingly, the “gratitude education campaign” was slammed on social media by residents of the hard-hit city. One article lambasting the campaign by popular Wuhan-based writer Fang Fang went viral on Chinese social media website WeChat.
“The government should put an end to its arrogance and humbly express gratitude to its master — millions of people in Wuhan,” he stated.
In response to the criticism, the party has since shifted its tone, instead focusing on praising both Wuhan and its province of Hubei for their “heroic” resilience.
“Wuhan is a city of heroes, and the Wuhan people are heroes,” said Hubei party chief Ying Yong in a speech to medical staff in Wuhan.
“[Wuhan’s people] … have shown resilience and strong will … I hereby express my sincere gratitude to the people of Wuhan and Hubei,” he added.