RTHK's English-language current affairs programme that takes "The Pulse" of Hong Kong ... and the world around it.
Even in mainland China, public anger has risen, and serious questions are being asked, on the effectiveness of political leadership and the lack of transparency in tackling the Covid-19 breakout. The fallout began last week when President Xi Jinping removed two provincial officials in Hubei and Wuhan and otherwise reprimanded or removed a few hundred more minor ones. This week, the state news agency reported that the government is also discussing postponing the annual parliamentary meetings in early March. The Party, well aware that continued economic growth provides much of its legitimacy for ruling, has tightened internet control and increasingly controlled media narratives on the spread of the disease. There’ve been increased clampdowns on virtual private networks, in recent weeks. The foreign press has been told to stay out of Hubei, and on Wednesday, three Wall Street Journal reporters were expelled over a headline that read: “China is the real sick man of Asia”. With us to talk about the effectiveness or otherwise of these strategies are Derek Yuen, lecturer at the Department of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Hong Kong and Chris Yeung, political commentator and chief writer at CitizenNews.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been quarantined in Yokohama since 4th February. The Covid-19 virus spread rapidly on the ship, with more than 600 out of 3,600 passengers now having tested positive for it. Two, a Japanese man and woman in their eighties, have died. Also on board are 364 Hongkongers, 55 of whom are infected. The government has finally arranged chartered flights to bring home some of those who have not tested positive. On Thursday morning, the first batch of 106 passengers returned and are now quarantined in an estate in Fo Tan. But Hong Kong’s quarantine measures have been the target of some criticism.
Since January 23rd, the city of Wuhan has been under lockdown. 11 million people have been subjected to un precedented quarantine restrictio0 70s1 for more than a month. On Monday morning, came news that the authorities were about to relax the lockdown. That decision was reversed within just a few hours. This news spread fast as more than 60% of the Chinese population are now online, internet communications services such as Weibo and WeChat have made it easier for users to share information about the coronavirus. At the beginning of the outbreak, the sheer volume of posts, photos and videos on social media overwhelmed censors. But as public discontent has grown, the state has clamped down and restricted communications. Nevertheless, The Pulse has managed to speak to people under lockdown in Wuhan, some from the mainland, and some from Hong Kong.