About a month ago, China’s Emperor-for-Life Xi Jinping handed out promotions to some of his trusted allies. The media focused on the appointment of Ying Yong and Wang Zhonglin as new party chiefs in Hubei and Wuhan – to replace officials who had failed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. In Hong Kong, the big news was the appointment of Xia Baolong as new boss of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, in place of (demoted) Zhang Xiaoming.
While we haven’t heard much from Xia yet, it is interesting to see how his fellow Xi loyalist Wang has done in Wuhan.
Last week he a big bright idea – namely to…
…carry out gratitude education among the citizens of the whole city, so that they thank the General Secretary [Xi Jinping], thank the Chinese Communist Party, heed the Party, walk with the Party, and create strong positive energy.
For reasons that remain unfathomable, the people of Wuhan did not leap with joy at this invitation to venerate the dictatorship that plunged them into weeks of death, disease, quarantine and internment.
In the CCP’s Leninist mindset, the Party guides the population’s thoughts, not the other way round. But this attempt at choreographing an outpouring of thankfulness among the happy campers of Wuhan failed to take off. Indeed, the propaganda masters had to categorize the proposal as a Class 1 Public Opinion Screw-Up on a par with the mishandled death (and re-death) of virus whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang.
The positive-energy morale-boost was withdrawn and airbrushed away – rather like the best-seller-but-pulped book How I Beat the WuFlu and Saved the World Before Breakfast, by Winnie the Xi himself.
We eagerly await Xia Baolong’s debut inspiring hearts-and-minds PR initiative for Hong Kong.