President Xi Jinping has called for tightened control over online discussion and increased policing to ensure "positive energy" and social stability, as the mainland struggles to contain the deadly new coronavirus.
The government must "strengthen the management and control of online media," and "crack down on those who seize the opportunity to create rumours" on the internet, Xi said in a February 3 speech published by state media on Saturday.
Simultaneously, "it is necessary to increase use of police force and strengthen the visible use of police," Xi said, calling for a crackdown on behaviour that "disrupts social order" including hoarding medical supplies.
Xi urged party members to "dare to criticise" those who had failed to carry out the Communist Party central committee's instructions, and warned "those who fail to perform their duties shall be punished according to discipline and law."
The Qiushi journal quoted Xi as saying the Communist Party has taken timely and effective measures to combat the outbreak, after making an accurate assessment of the situation.
The president said containing the epidemic is the one issue he cares most about, and he has been constantly giving orders and directives to officials, Qiushi said.
Xi was also quoted as saying work on influencing local and international public opinion must be strengthened amid a complicated crisis that has caused panic and fear among some people.
He said building confidence in society is key to winning the fight against the virus and more information on what the party and central government is doing in this regard should be given to the people.
The journal said Xi also described the health crisis as a major challenge to China's governance that had exposed some shortcomings in public health administration.
He vowed to crack down on the illegal trade in wild animals, adding that the "bad habit" of eating wildlife must be eradicated. (Additional reporting by AFP)
Xi Jinping demands more policing, internet controls
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