Whereabouts of Top Chinese Officials Unknown During Beijing Virus Outbreak
Commentary by Zhong Yuan
June 30, 2020
Since June 11, the city of Beijing began to report new cases of CCP virus infections, and the outbreak has intensified. Beijing did not dare to publicly announce closures in the city, but it has implemented lockdown measures. Since the outbreak first began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year, Beijing became the most important place for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to protect—as it is the seat of power. If Beijing falls, high-level officials may have to evacuate, so a power vacuum is likely to occur within the CCP—and the consequences would be unimaginable.
However, high-level CCP officials have not been seen in public since the outbreak began this month. Perhaps they left Beijing to avoid being infected with the CCP virus.
Xi Jinping Joined Two Teleconferences
On the eve of June 17, Chinese leader Xi Jinping appeared via video conferencing at the China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 in Beijing. Wang Huning, a top Party official and close adviser to Xi, was also present. Although a small number of CCP officials also joined the video conference, they were not physically present to the public.
On June 22, Xi joined the 22nd EU-China summit via video conferencing.
Then, Xi disappeared from the public. State-run media reports only indicated that Xi made telephone calls, sent congratulatory letters, issued orders, and wrote speeches.
Before the second wave of the CCP virus broke out in Beijing, Xi made two public appearances in early June.
On June 2, Xi presided over a panel of experts and scholars in Beijing and delivered a speech.
From June 8 to 10, Xi inspected the Ningxia region. This indicates that he had already left Beijing on June 7. The next time he made a public appearance was during the China-Africa video summit in Beijing on June 17.
Li Keqiang Made One Public Appearance Since June Outbreak
Before the outbreak began in Beijing, premier Li Keqiang inspected the cities of Yantai and Qingdao in Shandong Province from June 1 to 2.
On June 4, Li chaired a meeting with a team of health experts on combating the epidemic. State-run broadcaster CCTV did not provide pictures or videos from the meeting.
That evening, Li delivered a speech via video conferencing at the Global Vaccine Summit.
On June 9, Li chaired the State Council’s executive meeting. CCTV’s report did not provide a picture of the meeting place. The State Council is akin to the regime’s cabinet.
On June 11, Li held a video meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
After the novel coronavirus resurged in Beijing, Li made one public appearance.
On June 15, Li attended the online opening ceremony of the 127th Canton Fair (also known as China Import and Export Fair) in Beijing. This was his only public appearance in June.
On June 22, Li held a video meeting with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell.
The Whereabouts of Other Top Party Leaders
Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Party’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), appeared for four consecutive days from June 19 to June 21, presiding over the committee’s 19th meeting. Li wore a mask during the meeting.
Before the outbreak in Beijing, Li made two appearances in early June.
On June 1, Li presided over the 58th meeting of the Council of Chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing.
On June 9, Li chaired the 59th meeting of chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee.
Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CCPCC), the Party’s advisory body, made three public appearances after June 11.
From June 8 to 12, Wang was conducting “inspections” in Xinjiang, according to state media.
On June 19, Wang chaired the 37th CPPCC bi-weekly consultation forum in Beijing.
On June 22, Wang participated in the opening meeting of the 12th session of the CPPCC. He wore a mask during two meetings.
Before the outbreak in Beijing, Wang made two public appearances in early June.
On June 5, Wang presided over the 36th bi-weekly consultation forum of the CPPCC National Committee in Beijing.
On June 8, Wang hosted the 38th CPPCC Chairman Meeting in Beijing.
Wang Huning, a current member of the Politburo Standing Committee and the first-ranked secretary of the Party’s Secretariat, participated in two video conferences.
On the eve of June 17, when Xi Jinping hosted the China-Africa summit in Beijing, Wang Huning did not make a public presence at the conference.
Before the outbreak in Beijing, on June 4, Wang Huning attended the meeting of the epidemic work leading group chaired by Li Keqiang. CCTV did not provide a picture of the meeting place, only a text article and a photo.
Han Zheng, Senior Vice Premier of the State Council and member of the Politburo Standing Committee, made a public appearance on June 11.
Han chaired the plenary meeting of the Leading Group of the 24th Olympic Winter Games, to be held in Beijing in 2022. After that, there were no reports about Han’s activities.
Before the outbreak in Beijing, Han made one public appearance. From May 31 to June 2, he was investigating the cities of Changsha and Yueyang in Hunan Province.
On June 3, Han met with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam in Beijing. CCTV did not provide a picture, only text.
There are no reports of the whereabouts or activities of Zhao Leji, head of the Party’s top anti-corruption body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, since the second wave outbreak began this month.
Where Are the Top CCP Officials?
The seven members of the Standing Committee may have left Beijing to avoid the pandemic. They only returned to Beijing when they had no other choice. The exact location of the high-level officials is unknown. Perhaps they are all staying near Beijing, or are scattered across the country. However, it is obvious that they would not dare to disclose their whereabouts to the public—that would create tremendous chaos for the nation and undercurrents within the Party. Large numbers of armed police and public security in Beijing could serve the proof of such concern.