On August 20, Li Keqiang visited Chongqing, a heavily flooded area. The People’s Daily, CCTV, and Xinhua did not report any coverage of his visit until August 23, which is quite unusual. The Chinese government website (www.gov.cn) was the only site that covered Li’s visit on August 20. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping’s visit to Anhui province on August 18 through the 20th was among the top news in Chinese media.
In the videos and photos that the government website released, it showed that Li Keqiang wore rain boots and was walking in the mud. He inquired about the disaster and was concerned about the harvest and the lives of the victims. Mainland netizens highly praised Li, calling him “the prime minister of the people.”
In contrast, Xi Jinping was seen wearing leather shoes to visit the fields in Anhui that were once a heavily flooded zone but had since been recovering. People also discovered that in one picture, Xi was speaking to a woman holding a child, but the woman was suspected of being the deputy chief of the local Public Security Bureau. On Wednesday, August 19, Xi visited the Baowu Masteel Group. People said that those who Xi Jinping met were background actors who the officials had vetted, a common practice among CCP officials.
Xi’s visit to Anhui came after the floods in Anhui province had subsided. This was Xi’s first public appearance after the Beidaihe summit. Xi’s last public appearance was on July 31 when he attended the opening ceremony of the Beidou-3 global satellite navigation system. Xi was also criticized for not visiting the flood zone during the peak of the flooding time.
The rumors of infighting between Xi Jinping and his Prime Minister Li Keqiang have surfaced again. In recent months, Li Keqiang was seen to have different views and actions from Xi Jinping on a number of issues. There is speculation that Li knows that he is unable to take down Xi Jinping. Therefore, he is preparing for his departure in 2023; however, he can only use the Chinese government website to highlight his achievements so as to prevent future retaliation.
1.Radio Free Asia, August 19, 2020
2. Central News Agency, August 20, 2020
3. Secret China, August 24, 2020