By Tenzin Tsultrim

It has been nearly three months since Wuhan was locked down on 23, January. However, before the lockdown, the virus had already found its carriers and – with the help of modern transportation – the virus spread to more than 180 countries and territories. Currently, the dreaded Covid-19 has infected over 3 million people and killed over 200,000 worldwide. The virus, being non-discriminatory by nature, hasn’t spared even the government officials and political leaders around the world. For them, every human is a potential host and a carrier.

National People's Congress npc beijing great hall
File Photo: Lukas Messmer/HKFP.

Among the leaders of the world, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson was believed to be the first major world leader to be infected with the virus. Soon he was joined by more than 60 political leaders, lawmakers and government officials from around 19 countries across the world. Among them, the most affected government was Iran, where at least 24 members of parliament contracted the virus, including: Iraj Harirchi, the Deputy Health Minister, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs.

Meanwhile, in its country of origin, China, there is not a single reported case of infection among the top political leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as well as among the members of National People’s Congress (NPC). Currently, there are 25  members in 19th Politburo headed by life-long President Xi Jinping. The average age of the Politburo members is 65. While the highest organ of state, National People’s Congress, has 2,980 members. The 2,980 delegates are on average 52 years old, with most (1,632 or 54.8%) in the 50-59 age group. There are 13 members who are in the 70-79 age group and the oldest member is 90 years old, Shen Jilan from Shanxi.

National People's Congress npc beijing great hall
File photo: Lukas Messmer/HKFP.

According to the recent scientific study from China, people aged 50 and older are around two-and-a-half times more likely to progress to a severe case of Covid-19. While Central for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US reports that, “8 out 10 deaths in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older.” Recently health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah of Malaysia in a press conference on the local Covid-19 situation said that, “…the infection rate per 100,000 population is highest among people within the age groups of between 55 and 59 as well as 60 to 64.” 

All the above data indicates that people aged 50 and older are more vulnerable and likely to progress to a severe case if infected. In China, despite most of its top leaders and members of the NPC being in the 50-79 age group, there is not a single case of infection so far. Not only that, Hubei province, the epicentre of the Covid-19, based on its population, has the seventh largest delegations (118) to 13th NPC. While Wuhan too happened to be the sixth largest populated city in China.

This raises a few questions?

1. Does it mean that most of the leaders and members already knew about the outbreak and left the province before the lockdown?

2. Does it mean that most of the leaders and members of the NPC happened to be outside of the hotspots or didn’t visit any of the affected areas?

3. In order to show the sacrifices of the leaders to the party and the people and also to earn sympathy, will the CCP reveal the names of infected leaders in the future?

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping. File photo: Kremlin.

Recently, on 3 March 2020, during the CCP’s choreographed press conference, Major General Chen Jingyuan, health division director of the Logistics Support Department under the Central Military Commission (CMC) said that “…the ongoing novel coronavirus pneumonia (Covid-19) outbreak did not cause cases of infection among military medics and service members…”

However, many experts refute the claims as virtually impossible. But this is not something new. In the past too, during Boxer rebellions, in order to show its strength and invincibility, a Chinese secret society known as the Yihequan (Righteous and Harmonious Fists) fighting foreigners, claimed to be impervious to the bullets and many Qing officials also believed this.  CCP is already notorious for its manipulation of economic data and its total secrecy over its military budget. As always, is the CCP hiding something from its people and the world. Otherwise, does it mean that CCP leaders like the PLA soldiers have zero infection and CCP leaders too immune from the Covid-19 virus?

Tenzin Tsultrim earned his Ph.D. from University of Madras, Chennai. He has earlier worked as a Research Fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute, a think tank of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala, India.

Guest contributors for Hong Kong Free Press.