Reshuf­fle amid virus bat­tle

Two newly ap­pointed of­fi­cials seen as ‘fire­fight­ers’

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Qingqing and Zhao Yusha

China has reshuf­fled top of­fi­cials in Cen­tral China’s Hubei Prov­ince, the epi­cen­ter of the novel coro­n­avirus pneu­mo­nia (COVID-19) out­break, by ap­point­ing a new Party chief to both the prov­ince and the cap­i­tal city Wuhan, with both hav­ing a back­ground in le­gal af­fairs for years and con­sid­ered “fire­fight­ers,” and de­ci­sive in deal­ing with pub­lic health crises.

Ying Yong was ap­pointed sec­re­tary of the Hubei Pro­vin­cial Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC), re­plac­ing Jiang Chao­liang, ac­cord­ing to a de­ci­sion an­nounced by the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day.

Also, Wang Zhonglin, a mem­ber of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the CPC Shan­dong Pro­vin­cial Com­mit­tee and con­cur­rently Party chief of Shan­dong’s pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal city Ji’nan, was named Wuhan’s new Party chief, re­plac­ing Ma Guo­qiang.

The of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of the reshuf­fle came af­ter prob­lems in Hubei and Wuhan were

ex­posed in the epi­demic preven­tion and con­trol work amid the COVID-19 out­break.

The new of­fi­cials have work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in le­gal af­fairs, and are con­sid­ered prob­lem-solvers who can make ac­cu­rate de­ci­sions. Their ap­point­ments to the ma­jor bat­tle­grounds amid the out­break also re­flects the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to win the bat­tle while let­ting com­pe­tent “fire­fight­ers” han­dle the chal­lenges, an­a­lysts said.

Since the first COVID-19 case was re­ported on De­cem­ber 8, 2019, a hand­ful of se­nior of­fi­cials in Hubei have been re­moved or pun­ished for their poor han­dling of the cri­sis. This time, it took only two months to see a ma­jor reshuf­fle of top of­fi­cials in the coro­n­avirus epi­cen­ter Hubei.

Faced with the sud­den COVID-19 out­break, prob­lems such as slop­pi­ness and poor man­age­ment of work have been ex­posed among Wuhan and Hubei au­thor­i­ties, reflecting se­vere loop­holes in lo­cal gov­er­nance. The ap­point­ment of those new of­fi­cials will also enhance preven­tion and con­trol mea­sures against the out­break, an­a­lysts said.

Com­pe­tent can­di­dates

Ying was born in Novem­ber 1957 in Xianju, East China’s Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. His’s pre­vi­ous work ex­pe­ri­ence fo­cused largely on pub­lic se­cu­rity, po­lit­i­cal and le­gal af­fairs. He has been work­ing in Shang­hai since 2007 when he be­came an of­fi­cial in the Shang­hai High People’s Court.

Ying re­ceived on-the-job col­lege education and a master’s de­gree in law and the ti­tle of na­tional grade-two grand jus­tice, ac­cord­ing to an on­line re­sume.

A Shang­hai-based ex­pert, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, praised Shang­hai’s virus con­tain­ment work.

He told the Global Times that

Shang­hai, home to mil­lions of mi­grant work­ers, could have be­come the next epi­demic cen­ter for the coro­n­avirus.

How­ever, with ef­fec­tive and sci­en­tific mea­sures which do not dis­turb people’s nor­mal lives, Shang­hai has man­aged to keep the in­fec­tion at a moder­ate level com­pared to other prov­inces and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. As of Wednesday mid­night, the city re­ported only 311 con­firmed cases of the COVID-19 in­fec­tion.

The ex­pert at­trib­uted this to Shang­hai top-level of­fi­cials’ “mod­est ner­vous­ness,” which means they did not panic when faced with the virus out­break, but also made urgent and sci­en­tific de­ci­sions based on data and pro­fes­sional knowl­edge of the epi­demic.

Like Ying, Wang has also been work­ing on the front­line in fight­ing the deadly virus in the past few weeks.

Born in 1962, Wang spent most of his ca­reer as a civil ser­vant in East China’s Shan­dong Prov­ince. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the de­part­ment of crim­i­nal law in East China’s Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law in the early 1980s, he worked at the pub­lic se­cu­rity bureau in Zaozhuang, a city lo­cated about a two-hour drive from Ji’nan.

Wang was ap­pointed Party chief and di­rec­tor of the Shan­dong De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion in 2015 be­fore be­com­ing a mem­ber of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of CPC Shan­dong Pro­vin­cial Com­mit­tee and Party chief of Ji’nan in 2018.

“He is very en­er­getic, de­ci­sive and highly mo­ti­vated, and usually responds to ques­tions very quickly,” a for­mer of­fi­cial close to the Shan­dong gov­ern­ment told the Global Times.

At such a cru­cial mo­ment in fight­ing the dis­ease, the ap­point­ment aims to al­low the of­fi­cial to use his ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with prob­lems.

In the fight against the out­break in Shan­dong, Wang served as the gen­eral com­man­der in giv­ing in­struc­tions for the preven­tion and con­trol work in Ji’nan, and showed up at dif­fer­ent pub­lic places, in­clud­ing mar­kets, res­i­den­tial ar­eas, and rail­way sta­tions with­out telling lo­cal of­fi­cials in ad­vance, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

He also re­quired no one to ac­com­pany him and no brief­ing in the of­fice, but made field in­spec­tions to guide preven­tion and con­trol work.

Shan­dong’s ef­forts to strengthen the preven­tion and con­trol work while also en­sur­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and ex­port-driven busi­nesses have been highly praised by the pub­lic as it set an ex­am­ple for provin­cial­level gov­er­nance and cri­sis man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­ity amid the out­break, an­a­lysts said.

Dur­ing the out­break, Shan­dong also do­nated a large amount of food, veg­eta­bles, fruits and med­i­cal sup­plies to Hubei.

Key bat­tle­ground

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, also gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, said the sit­u­a­tion at the mo­ment re­mains very se­ri­ous, and Hubei and Wuhan are the top pri­or­ity for epi­demic preven­tion and con­trol, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

The top au­thor­ity high­lighted fight­ing the dis­ease on the front­line is also a ma­jor way of as­sess­ing the per­for­mance of of­fi­cials cur­rently, and those who fail to ful­fill their du­ties would be held ac­count­able.

Since the out­break, more than 100 of­fi­cials in Hubei have been held ac­count­able for their in­com­pe­tence in deal­ing with the preven­tion and con­trol work, me­dia re­ported.

“Some­one in the lo­cal lead­er­ship must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Hubei,” a res­i­dent in Wuhan sur­named Huang, who has been closely ob­serv­ing the out­break in the city, told the Global Times on Thurs­day.

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