uhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang has so far shouldered much of the blame for the deadly coronavirus outbreak, blame that he recently shifted over to Beijing in a highly unusual move for a Chinese official.
Following a disastrous press conference on Sunday, Zhou was interviewed on Monday by CCTV. In the interview, he admitted to having failed to disclose information to the public in a timely manner during the preliminary stage of the virus outbreak.
However, Zhou charged that as a local official, he did not have the authority to reveal such information without first getting authorization from higher up, in what certainly appears to be a shot aimed straight at Beijing.
“As a local government official, after I have the information, I have to get approval before I can make it public,” Zhou said.
He noted that after China’s State Council held a meeting to recognize the coronavirus as a Class B infectious disease, his administration was quick to make decisive moves, including putting Wuhan in virtual lockdown.
After describing how his role in the crisis had been misunderstood, Zhou went on to portray himself as a sort of martyr, effectively offering up his own head to assuage public anger.
“Maybe we’ll go down in history with a bad reputation for locking down the city to keep the virus inside,” Zhou said. “But as long as it helps to contain the spread of the virus, Wuhan Party Secretary Ma Guoqiang and I are willing to take whatever responsibility, including resignation.”
At the end, Zhou deigned to give himself an 80 out of 100 for how he was handling the interview.
Many netizens were not happy with that grade, continuing to heap scorn on Zhou. It remains to be seen if Beijing will respond by handing him a failing grade or if he’ll continue to be kept around to throw underneath the bus.