Chinese Provincial Press Conference on Coronavirus Inspires Anger, Criticism

SHANGHAI — In a rare sign of public discontent with the government, Chinese social media users are venting their anger at the government, after officials from Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began, briefed the media on Sunday.

Some lashed out at the Hubei governor, who had to correct himself twice during a press conference over the number of face masks being produced in the province.

“The yearly output of face masks is 10.8 billion,” Wang Xiaodong said at the briefing Sunday, only having to correct himself after he was handed a piece of paper. “It’s actually 1.8 billion,” he said.

Minutes later, Wang admitted it was 1.8 million masks.

News of the press conference was trending on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, with the hashtag “Governor of Hubei says he is agonised and feels responsible.”

“If he can mess up the data multiple times, no wonder the disease has spread so severely,” one Weibo user said.

“This is the level of a provincial governor? A few sentences of apology and he has to look at his notes five times,” said another user.

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