While President Xi Jinping had been dreaming of the coming “Chinese Century,” it looks like his dream is crumbling because of the deadly coronavirus. More intent on preserving secrecy than in ridding the country of the deadly virus, Beijing is fast losing the confidence of the people.
The problem in China is not limited to health. Global commerce now hinges on China’s $14.55 trillion economy, which in turn is governed by an opaque, authoritarian regime tightly coalesced around President Xi. This evil autocrat has amassed more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Tse-tong. He has leveraged Beijing’s economic clout to forward his ambitions, but he has struggled with failure and frustration like no other leader. “Since Zi came to power, problem after problem have occurred on his watch that he seems unable to effectively manage,” says Jude Blanchette, a China analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and international Studies. These include bad beef, swine flu, SARS, growing unrest in semiautonomous Hong Kong, a disruptive trade war with President Trump, and now an unfolding health crisis that will only get worse.
For decades, the sales pitch for China’s single-party rule was the superior performance of its political system when faced with both short-term crises and long-term challenges. It built thousands of miles of high-speed rails and helped drag hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
But anger began to boil in the hearts of many Chinese when Dr. Li Wenliang recently died, the doctor who first warned his colleagues about the virus back in December of 2019. He was treated harshly and accused by the Wuhan police of rumor-mongering after his messages were posted on social media. Dr. Li is being hailed as a hero. His death has sparked anger among Chinese citizens, who say they feel they were lied to by the government.
Confronting a pandemic requires more than just an ability to throw up hospitals in a few days. It necessitates trust. And from the beginning, China’s public response to the virus has raised questions. Even multinational institutions like the World Health Organization are feeling this as the coronavirus worsens. Beijing is resisting help from the outside that it desperately needs to solve the problem. The Chinese Communist Party must cooperate with the world and permit the free transmission of information among ordinary Chinese on the front lines of the disease. But when Chinese Internet users flooded social media sites with indignation following the death of Dr. Li, their calls for freedom of speech were scrubbed from the Internet by censors. And the man who filmed piles of body bags at a Chinese hospital was arrested and interrogated by police officers pretending to be hospital workers. Sadly, the central authorities, under the control of President Xi, explicitly prioritize political security over fighting the epidemic with tragic consequences for the general population.
Let’s pause briefly for a word of prayer for China and for the whole world. With international travel, the possibility of a pandemic affecting the whole planet has increased many times over. Dear Lord Jesus, we come in your name, and by the power of your blood, to intercede for China. We pray for openness, and we pray that this tragedy might lead many to realize that no human being, political party, or ideology that leaves you out of the picture will ever succeed. We pray that the coronavirus may be an object lesson reminding people of the truth that you have historically brought about the doom of many dictators and that you work sovereignly in history. May the Chinese Communist Party be humbled, and may there be a yieldedness in all parties involved to receive your grace, power and direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.