As hundreds of millions are impacted by historic flooding in China, the Communist Party leadership’s noticeable absence drew the attention of citizens and China analysts.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping did not show up in public for 21 days until July 21, when he hosted an economic seminar in Beijing.
Then, on Wednesday, he visited the Siping Battle Memorial Hall in northeastern China’s Jilin province. During China’s civil war, from March 1946 to March 1948, the Kuomintang (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) fought four grueling battles in Siping, which killed at least 55,000 soldiers from both sides. The CCP won the first and last battle, while the KMT won the second and third ones.
On both occasions, he did not mention the severe flooding in at least 27 Chinese provinces and regions—caused by heavy rainfall since June. Nor have Xi or other members of the Politburo Standing Committee—the Party’s most powerful decision-making body—visited the disaster areas to command relief tasks, as their predecessors did. Only Premier Li Keqiang has made a brief visit to a flooded village in early July.
The CCP’s top leaders have not appeared much in public throughout 2020.
U.S.-based China political affairs commentator Zhong Yuan noted that this is unusual for the Party. He raised the question of whether the senior officials left Beijing in order to avoid contracting the CCP virus.
On the afternoon of July 21, Xi hosted a seminar for entrepreneurs in Beijing, joined by two Politburo standing committee members Wang Huning and Han Zheng, as well as other senior central government officials.
Executives at some of China’s biggest firms were in attendance: Chen Zongnian, chairman and Party leader of Hikvision, the surveillance equipment manufacturer; Ning Gaoning, chairman and Party leader of Sinochem, a state-run oil and gas conglomerate; Huang Li, chairman of Wuhan Guide Infrared, a…