Feb 5, 2020 - World

China's leaders call for more censorship on coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After a high-level meeting to address the deadly coronavirus, China's leaders are prescribing even tighter information controls around the outbreak.

Why it matters: The suppression of vital information about the coronavirus during its earliest weeks of transmission contributed to the devastating epidemic China is now facing.

Driving the news: In a Feb. 3 meeting, the Politburo standing committee called for authorities to "strengthen internet and media control" (link in Chinese).

  • “The outbreak is a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance, and we must sum up the experience and draw a lesson from it,” a meeting statement warned, per Bloomberg.

The early days of the epidemic marked a period of unusual openness for Chinese journalists to do high-impact reporting. Privately owned Chinese news outlets Caixin and Caijing published report after report documenting the victims and spread of the illness.

  • But that brief period has already shown signs of ending, as a spate of Chinese-language articles have now been removed, including a Feb. 1 Caijing article that claimed the number of cases and deaths was being underreported.

Go deeper: Here's a compilation of the best of Chinese media reporting over the past few weeks, archived and translated.

Go deeper

The coronavirus threat to China's grand plans

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

China's plan to dominate the 21st century hangs in the balance as the deadly coronavirus outbreak spreads.

The big picture: Coronavirus is stress-testing Chinese President Xi Jinping's industrial and economic vision for the future as factories, supply chains and companies navigate the crisis.

Go deeperArrowFeb 8, 2020 - World

Coronavirus kills Chinese doctor who warned of outbreak

Passengers wear protective facemasks in the departure hall of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese doctor, who sounded the alarm on the potential of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, has died after contracting the virus. The Wuhan Central Hospital has confirmed his death, after there was a period of confusion in the media.

Why it matters: Li Wenliang, 34, was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital. In December he sent a warning to other physicians about the potential of a respiratory illness he had seen in several patients, per the Washington Post. Chinese authorities ordered him and other doctors to stop promulgating "rumors" about the SARS-like cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 6, 2020 - Health

NYT: Xi Jinping ordered action on coronavirus earlier than previously reported

Xi Jinping vists a community health center in Beijing on Feb. 10. Photo: Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he first gave orders to tackle the coronavirus crisis on Jan. 7 in a speech released by state media on Saturday, the New York Times reports. He did not disclose details of those orders in the speech.

Why it matters: The newly published address, which Xi gave on Feb. 3, confirms "for the first time that he was aware of the virus while officials at its epicenter were openly downplaying its dangers," per the Times.

Go deeperArrowFeb 15, 2020 - World