fter weeks spent wondering, where is Xi? China’s president made his first public appearance since the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak began, visiting a Beijing neighborhood on Monday.
In footage broadcast by CCTV, Xi Jinping is seen wearing a face mask while speaking with residents and community workers in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. He also had his temperature checked (no word on what the reading was).
According to Chinese state media, Xi was there to learn about epidemic prevention efforts at the primary level, as well as check on the supplies of daily necessities.
The typically extremely prominent Chinese president has received overseas criticism for his notable public absence during the coronavirus crisis, with some wondering if he is trying to avoid blame.
While Chinese premier Li Keqiang was sent off to Wuhan last month, Xi has instead remained in Beijing and been portrayed by Chinese media as overseeing the fight against the virus from afar.
Back on January 24, just as the outbreak was sending shockwaves across the country, he appeared at a Lunar New Year banquet with other officials, a scene that caused some Chinese netizens to get a bit nostalgic for how his predecessor, Hu Jintao, had toured hospitals in Guangdong during the SARS crisis in 2003.
CCTV news leads with footage of Xi Jinping and other top leaders eating a Lunar New Year banquet in the middle of an outbreak. Meanwhile, people on WeChat getting actually nostalgic for how previous leadership handled SARS pic.twitter.com/efStUt16cX
— Josh Chin (@joshchin) January 24, 2020
Anyone familiar with the coronavirus outbreak will notice that Xi made his appearance on Monday wearing a typical surgical mask, rather than a more sophisticated N95 mask.
Officials have been told that N95s should be reserved for frontline medical workers. Evidently, even Xi has to follow this directive — at least in public.