Voice of America reported that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) main media covered quite a lot about the party event on celebrating the Chinese New Year, while it paid very little attention to the Wuhan lockdown and the coronavirus epidemic. On January 24, the first day that the Chinese media took the time to report on the Wuhan lockdown, the front page of People’s Daily didn’t mention Wuhan or the epidemic at all. Instead it covered the CCP Central Committee’s celebration of the Chinese New Year and Xi Jinping’s speech at the celebration. Xi didn’t mention Wuhan in his speech either. Neither did the second and third pages mention Wuhan.
The fourth page had an article about the epidemic on the lower part of the page. The main point was, “From the CCP Central to the local area, from the medical staff to the general public, with the common goal of conquering the epidemic, people have formed a strong force to prevent and control it.” It also said that there are plenty of supplies, food, and medical materials for Wuhan. It didn’t mention the number of infected cases, the latest developments in the epidemic, or what measures the government plans to take to control the epidemic.
Guangming Daily, another party mouthpiece, Economic Daily (under the State Council) and PLA Daily all had a similar focus in their reporting. Wuhan was only mentioned on a not-so-important page.
Unlike the communist media, the Western media have maintained a main focus on the Wuhan lockdown and on the epidemic. On January 23, the Wall Street Journal had a Wuhan epidemic image in the center of its front page, with the title, “China Locks Down City of 11 Million Where the Virus Originated.” The New York Times had, “China Closes off City at the Center of Virus Outbreak” on its front page. Financial Times also gave the news a significant focus. On January 24, Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Times put the epidemic on their front pages.
Hu Ping, a Chinese political commentator said this shows that the media outside of China truly cares about Wuhan and its people.
Xi Jinping gave an important direction on January 20 regarding the epidemic: “(We) must strengthen the guidance of public opinion, strengthen the spreading and explanation of relevant policies and measures, and resolutely maintain the stability of society to ensure people remain calm and peaceful during the Chinese New Year holidays.”
Source: Voice of America, January 25, 2020