By Jesús Centeno
Wuhan, China, Dec 30 (efe-epa).- At 85-years-old, Korean war veteran Chen Jixian cannot hold back his emotions when he recalls the calamities that struck Wuhan when the new coronavirus first emerged a year ago and led to the deaths of 3,869 people, according to official figures.
Chen was visiting People First, Lives First, a triumphalist exhibition centered on the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party in its handling of the pandemic and the sacrifices made by healthcare workers, soldiers and volunteers of Wuhan in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
“I’m left speechless. What happened here was very hard and I did not know if I wanted to face it (the exhibition),” a visibly emotional Chen says, before lifting his head and proclaiming “the virus is defeated” because “the Chinese people are capable of overcoming difficulties with perseverance and courage.”
His observations are not dissimilar to the “conclusions” set out on the final information panel of the exhibition, which states that China “overcame the obstacles and marches on.”
“China is brilliant and the Party, too. It makes you proud,” the veteran says, teary-eyed, whilst standing in front of one of the enormous Chinese flags at the exhibition.
IN PRAISE OF XI
The exhibition begins under a slogan hailing the “visionary leadership” of China’s president, Xi Jinping, alongside a collection of his speeches, official photographs and video clips relayed on large TV screens.
It exalts Xi’s “decisive action to strengthen the confidence and solidarity of the Chinese people in the fight against the pandemic.”
Others making their way through the more than 1,000 snapshots and installations are school groups and workers, like Yin — not her real name —, who received an invitation from her company.
“It’s best not to turn it down,” she says.
The same went for Zhang, another woman taking a tour, only she had traveled all the way from the eastern city of Hangzhou, some 800 kilometers from Wuhan, along with some of her colleagues.
Wuhan, a city that has not reported a single Covid-19 case since May, is, according to Zhang, “one of the safest places in the world right now.”
She says her company encouraged workers to visit the city in order to “learn” from the exhibition.
HERO STATUS FOR HEALTH WORKERS, SOLDIERS AND VOLUNTEERS
Zhang underlines the tenacity shown by local volunteers who did everything possible to guarantee supplies made it to the health workers who arrived from across the country to help tackle the coronavirus.
The exhibition also displayed never-before-seen images of the city empty during the draconian lockdown imposed for 11 weeks from 23 January.
The lockdown all but eradicated new cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan, allowing authorities to gradually lift restrictions.
As well as the confinement measures, Wuhan managed to get a handle on the situation thanks to the arrival of medical resources and personnel from other Chinese provinces, tough preventative measures and the rapid construction of field hospitals such as Leishenshan, which began to admit patients in February.
A timelapse video of the hospital’s construction — one of two raised in less than two weeks — is another feature of the exhibition.