A Chinese diplomat has published a list of officials who have been reprimanded by the government since the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, an event that is widely believed to have triggered the pandemic across the globe.
Investigations into the precise origins of the disease’s spread remain ongoing, however, and the United States has expressed concern that China has not been entirely transparent in a probe being led by the World Health Organization.
Seemingly responding to this insinuation, Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom Minister Ma Hui tweeted “#Authoritarian or accountable?” on Friday, alongside what he called the “incomplete list of Chinese officials being removed/sacked/demoted since the #Covid19 outbreak in #Wuhan, Hubei province.”
The list did not name the officials but referenced 10 affected positions, including Chinese Communist Party secretary of Ruili City in Yunnan province (Gong Yunzun), the director of the Qingdao Health Commission in Shandong province (Sui Zhenhua), the deputy director of the Markets Administration in Fengtai District in Beijing (Jia Qi), the deputy director of the Jilin City Health Commission in Jilin province, (Liu Shijun), the deputy mayor of Harbin in Heilongjiang province (Chen Yuanfei), the vice president of Harbin Medical University (Xu Yongxin), the director-general of the Harbin Health Commission (Qin Deliang), the party secretary of Jixi City’s Hengshan District in Heilongjiang province (Kong Lingbao), the party secretary of Hubei province (Jiang Chaoliang), the party secretary of Wuhan city (Ma Guoqiang) as well as “Several health officials.”
“For those who follow the #Covid19 situation in #China, Wuhan was the epicentre but other places only experienced local outbursts which were quickly brought under control,” Ma wrote. “Most officials were punished for dereliction of duties, not working diligently enough.”
He reiterated that more than just whose roles he named had been punished.
“Some many want to add to the list,” Ma tweeted. “I believe some officials in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province were also disciplined for the outbreak there.”
Indeed, Shijiazhuang authorities issued a notice in January announcing disciplinary charges for three officials, mentioning Feng Zhiqiang, deputy chief of Gaocheng district government, and Nie Xiaonan, deputy commander of the district’s emergency response headquarters, by name.
Notices and news reports surrounding the actions taken against the other officials mentioned in Ma’s frequently included other names as well, expanding the number of Chinese officials who have been reprimanded since the late 2019 outbreak in Wuhan. As Ma also noted in his tweets, China continues to face isolated pockets of COVID-19 infections, though nationwide numbers have largely been brought under control.
The United States remains by far the worst hit by the disease, though an ambitious vaccination campaign under President Joe Biden seeks to curb the spread. The second most affected country, India, is currently undergoing a drastic spike in infections, for which the U.S. and China have both offered assistance.
This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.