How has the discourse on Xi Jinping changed in the midst of the now global coronavirus epidemic?
Since Xi urged control of the coronavirus outbreak for the first time on January 20, China has been in full “war-waging” mode on the epidemic. But a number of signs in the midst of this “war” have puzzled China watchers. One puzzle initially was Xi’s absence from public visits and inspections on the front lines of the epidemic response through late January. The on-the-ground work fell to Premier Li Keqiang, who heads the leading group on disease prevention and control. And yet the CCP’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, still curiously prioritized the coverage of Xi Jinping’s outbreak-unrelated appearances over the coronavirus epidemic.