(Feb 14): The coronavirus crisis represents the single biggest challenge for Xi Jinping since he became general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012. Individuals and families across China are living in fear. Multiple Chinese provinces are under virtual lockdown. The virus has brought significant parts of the economy to a grinding halt, as firms instruct their employees to work from home. Politically, the blame game bounces between local authorities in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and the central government in Beijing, with both sides mindful of the eternal principle of Chinese politics: When disaster strikes, someone must be seen to pay the price.

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