Xi Focus: A brief timeline of Chinese president’s COVID-19 responses

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Xinhua News

9th December 2022 – (Beijing) For the past nearly three years, President Xi Jinping has been leading China in its tough but extraordinary fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

The country logged the lowest COVID-19 incidence and death toll among all major countries in the world in the period.

Reviewing the timeline of the country’s epidemic response led by the president may reveal what was done right.

20th January, 2020. When the epidemic began to hit China, Xi, who was inspecting Yunnan Province at the time, ordered resolute actions to curb the virus’ spreading. From the very beginning, he stressed putting people’s lives and health above all else.

22nd January, 2020. As the virus wreaked havoc in central China’s Hubei Province and particularly in its capital city Wuhan, Xi assessed the situation and ordered the shutting of exit channels from the capital city and the province. Around 10 million people in the city were placed under an unprecedented lockdown. Yet the move was instrumental in stemming the spread.

25th January, 2020. It was the Lunar New Year, one of the most cherished traditional holidays for the Chinese. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, convened a Party leadership meeting to discuss and plan COVID-19 responses. A central leading group was formed, with work teams sent to localities that reported an alarming epidemic status.

3rd February, 2020. Upon approval by Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, China’s armed forces sent 1,400 medics to Wuhan on a mission to treat COVID-19 patients. Many among them had rich experience in fighting contagious diseases such as SARS in 2003 in Beijing and Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

10th February, 2020. Xi inspected epidemic prevention and control in Beijing. He sent regards to medical personnel and workers on the front line all over the country and devised plans for the next stage of epidemic response.

23rd February, 2020. Xi specifically stressed the need to coordinate the COVID-19 response with economic and social development at a work meeting to advance both fronts.

2nd March, 2020. Xi visited the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University in Beijing to inspect work on COVID-19 scientific research. He urged arduous efforts to win the fight against the epidemic, as well as persistent efforts to seek solutions through science.

10th March, 2020. It was a crucial moment in China’s anti-epidemic battle. Xi arrived at the hardest-hit city of Wuhan to inspect the epidemic response on the ground. Epidemic control, according to Xi, was on top of the agenda.

26th March, 2020. The Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19, an unprecedented high-caliber virtual meeting, was held. It was also the first major multilateral event that Xi attended since the COVID-19 outbreak. His speech at the meeting played a crucial role in rallying international solidarity to fight the pandemic.

4th April, 2020. It was Tomb-sweeping Day, a traditional Chinese holiday to mourn ancestors and deceased family members. Xi led a national mourning for the lives lost to the novel coronavirus outbreaks.

8th April, 2020. The lockdown of Wuhan was lifted. On the same day, Xi chaired a Party leadership meeting to discuss implementing routine COVID-19 response measures and advancing the resumption of work and production across the board.

Late May 2020. The postponed annual sessions of the country’s top legislature and top political advisory body were convened. Sitting down with fellow lawmakers, Xi raised the demand for a better public health system and made plans to strengthen routine COVID-19 prevention and control and accelerate economic and social development.

8th September, 2020. Xi hailed China’s great spirit in battling the COVID-19 epidemic as the country’s model virus fighters were accorded grand state honours. China had secured major strategic achievements after eight months of fighting the COVID-19 epidemic.

28th January, 2021. The CPC leadership held a group study session on getting off to a good start in the 14th Five-year Plan (2021-2025). Xi stressed preventing both imported cases and domestic resurgence without any let-up to ensure that there would be no large inflows or resurgence.

6th March, 2021. Xi stressed “strategic priority” to safeguarding people’s health when he joined national political advisors from the education, medical and health sectors in a joint group meeting held during the “two sessions.”

5th August, 2021. Xi announced that China will strive to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world throughout the year and offer 100 million U.S. dollars to COVAX, which will help developing countries get life-saving vaccines.

16th November, 2021. President Xi held the first virtual meeting with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden. Xi pointed out that the pandemic once again proves that humanity lives in a community with a shared future. There is no higher priority than people’s lives. Solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon for the international community to defeat COVID-19.

As the year 2022 began, the pandemic remained complex and fast-changing. Since March, a new wave of infections caused by the super-spreading Omicron variant hit many provinces.

17th March, 2022. At a Party leadership meeting, Xi stressed putting people and their lives first, adhering to the dynamic zero-COVID approach with science-based and targeted measures, and containing the spread of the virus as soon as possible.

5th May, 2022. Xi chaired a Party leadership meeting at which he emphasised efforts to consolidate the hard-won achievements in epidemic response and earnestly abide by duties.

28th June, 2022. Xi visited Wuhan again. “I have been concerned with people in Wuhan and now I am here to revisit you in this heroic city after two years,” he said. Xi emphasised that over the past two years, Wuhan encountered multiple clusters of infections, but they were quickly brought under control without a large rebound.

10th November 10, 2022. Xi chaired a Party leadership meeting to hear a report on the COVID-19 response, and discuss and arrange 20 measures to further optimise the responses. A day later, the Chinese government unveiled the measures and called for more science-based and targeted epidemic responses. 

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