Hubei cadres purged for coronavirus epidemic bungling

China | 13 Feb 2020 2:53 pm

The Communist Party has replaced the party heads in the coronavirus stricken province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan, state media said today, reporting the most high profile officials to be dismissed in the wake of the epidemic, Reuters reports.

The removal of Jiang Chaoliang, the leading Communist Party official of Hubei province, and Ma Guoqiang, his counterpart in Wuhan, follows the dismissal of two provincial health officials on Tuesday, and is part of a wider effort by Beijing to remove bureaucrats it accuses of shirking their duties.

The central government has set up a special cabinet task force under Premier Li Keqiang to handle the crisis, and the new appointments in Hubei suggest that China's senior leaders are taking greater control.

Former Shanghai mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist

Party, replacing Jiang,  Xinhua said without explaining why Jiang was removed.

Ying worked closely with President Xi Jinping during the latter's time as party boss and governor of Zhejiang province, which neighbours Shanghai.

Wuhan party chief Ma has been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party boss of Jinan, the capital city of eastern Shandong province, Xinhua reported separately.

Officials in Hubei have been heavily criticised for their handling of the epidemic in a province of almost 60 million people.

The outbreak began in Wuhan late last year, and has

spread throughout China, killing more than 1,000 and infecting tens of thousands across the country.

Former Wuhan party boss Ma admitted in a nationally televised interview that the impact of the virus on China and on the world "would have been less" if containment measures had been taken sooner.

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