China’s only woman in party leadership is also its top Covid-19 crusader

By Victor Escribano

Shanghai, China, Apr 7 (EFE).- Sun Chunlan is not only the only woman among the 25 members of the body that governs China’s Communist Party, but has also become the person to call when Covid-19 outbreaks escape the control of authorities.

Sun is also the second of the four deputy prime ministers of the State Council (the Chinese executive) and public health is precisely one of the portfolios assigned to her when she took office in 2018.

One of her first official acts in office was the inauguration ceremony of the National Health Commission, the body that now reports on the evolution of infections and vaccination rates.

Covid-19 has thrown her to the fore: almost 60 percent of her appearances in the official press, which spans 14 pages, concern her management of outbreaks or measures she proposed to avoid them.

Sun is sent wherever there is a significant outbreak: in 2021 it moved to the provinces of Jiangsu, Henan, Fujian, Gansu, Liaoning and Shaanxi, and this year she visited Henan again and has coordinated responses to infections in Tianjin, Jilin and Shanghai.

Precisely, in the eastern metropolis, with 25 million inhabitants, the Beijing representative once again reasserted herself as a firm defender of the zero-tolerance Covid-19 strategy. This has allowed China to keep infections at levels much lower than those of most countries via confinements, massive tests and almost total closure of borders.

There, Sun called for “rapid and decisive” actions to contain the worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic, caused by the omicron variant, something that he described as a “huge and arduous task” due to the high contagion capacity of that mutation.

It is not the first time the deputy prime minister has called for the zero-Covid-19 policy to be applied even more strictly, since on several occasions she has claimed to be “faster, stricter and more expeditious” or isolate asymptomatic carriers in quarantine of the virus and close contacts of those infected.

What really elevated her as the spearhead of Chinese government action against the pandemic was her presence for about three months in the central-eastern city of Wuhan. She was the face of the government to coordinate the response to the first outbreak of the global pandemic, which was resolved with a 76-day lockdown.

There, Sun not only received the praise of the state media, but also had to face controversies, such as the occasion when, while visiting a confined urbanization, some residents shouted “It’s all a lie!” from their homes. They said they had only received food packages before their arrival, for which the common areas were also cleaned.

In Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi, where she was confined for a month at the beginning of the year, she demanded that Covid-19 measures not be transformed into the deprivation of medical care for those who needed it.

Those remarks came after a man died of a heart attack hours after trying unsuccessfully to get to a hospital complaining of chest pain and an eight-month pregnant woman lost her baby after being denied entry. to a hospital for not submitting an updated negative test. EFE


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