When the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19) struck the city of Wuhan in late 2019, the Chinese government was strongly criticised on its handling of the crisis.
Chinese leaders were slammed for their way of dealing with the situation and lack of transparency about the disease’s progression.
In fact, local officials have faced mounting pressure for perceived incompetence – particularly after the death of a Chinese doctor in Wuhan who was punished for raising the alarm about the new virus. The authorities even began sacking official leaders as the pressure mounted on the Chinese government.
However, in recent times, the situation seems to be improving well and businesses even appear to be getting back on track. But, whistleblowers and local officials have opened up to Beijing-based media Caixin, saying that it is just a well-constructed ruse.
According to an article by The Week, Beijing has invested a lot of time during the outbreak to push districts to open up business as usual. Some local governments also went to the extent of subsiding electricity costs and even implementing compulsory productivity quotas, the article stated.
As a matter of fact, as of 24 February, a province east of the epicentre city of Wuhan, called Zheijiang, claimed that 98.6 percent of its work capacity prior to the coronavirus outbreak had been restored.
Contrary to the officials’ claim, civil servants have told Caixan that businesses are faking these numbers. One civil servant explained that since Beijing had started inspecting Zhejiang businesses’ electricity consumption levels, this resulted in the district officials ordering companies to leave their lights and machinery turned on throughout the day to increase the levels.
If that’s not all, businesses have allegedly also falsified staff attendance logs as they “would rather waste a small amount of money on power than irritate officials,” Caixan reported.
Separately in Wuhan, local officials have tried to portray that the recovery efforts are smooth sailing. However, when “central leaders” themselves look into the disinfecting regimes and food delivery, local officials “make a special effort” solely just for them, one resident told Caixan.
In a video that has been circulating on social media, residents can be seen shouting — “Fake, it’s all fake” — to visiting leaders from their apartments where they’re being quarantined.