Leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China have congratulated themselves on their “extremely extraordinary” success in handling the Covid-19 outbreak domestically, ahead of a World Health Organization investigation into the origins of the disease.
China faced a barrage of criticism at home and abroad for its initial handling of the virus, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan last December.
China’s Politburo, the highest decision-making body of the Communist Party, said late Friday that the party’s leadership “played a decisive role in the leadership … of China in overcoming the rare risks and challenges this year. “.
“At the critical moment … the Party Central Committee adopted a long-term vision … achieving extremely extraordinary glory in this extremely rare year,” the state news agency Xinhua reported, citing a statement issued after the meeting. two days.
China has largely slowed the spread of the virus and was one of the only major economies to see growth this year. But he has been accused of covering up the initial outbreak and thus helping the virus to spread internationally.
At home, Beijing has tried to quell the criticism by punishing at least eight whistleblowers.
A Chinese citizen journalist who reported on the Wuhan outbreak, Zhang Zhan, has been detained since May and is expected to stand trial on Monday.
Zhang is a former lawyer who traveled to the city in February to report on the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak, through live broadcasts and critical essays widely shared on social media platforms banned in China.
The two-day Politburo meeting comes shortly before an international team of WHO experts is expected to arrive in China to investigate the animal origins of Covid-19, during which trip they will visit Wuhan.
An expert on the team told AFP this week that the investigation “was not about finding a guilty country or guilty authority,” but about “understanding what happened to avoid that in the future.”
Beijing has recently tried to cast doubt on the origins of the virus: The state-run People’s Daily newspaper said in a Facebook post in early November that “all available evidence suggests that the coronavirus did not start in Wuhan, central China.”
China has also tried to improve its soft power drive during the pandemic, promising to share its vaccines with developing countries and engaging in “mask diplomacy,” donating personal protective equipment to countries in need.