Coronavirus: China promotes a 'reborn' Wuhan, once-epicentre overlooks COVID-19 pandemic history

Coronavirus: China promotes a 'reborn' Wuhan, once-epicentre overlooks COVID-19 pandemic history

Chinese officials have launched a PR campaign promoting Wuhan as safe and economically-recovered despite the city being ground zero for COVID-19. 

Wuhan recently hosted executives from dozens of multinationals, including Panasonic and Nokia. The visiting guests were given a highly-choreographed tour of the city in an attempt to share the message that Wuhan is safe, reports AFP

However, the executives were not allowed inside the wet market - the area suspected of being the origin point of the virus.

"There are few places in the world today where you don’t need a mask and can gather," Lin Songtian, a Chinese official, told the group. 

"This testifies to Wuhan’s triumph over the virus and that the city is back in business."

The state-controlled media has provided significant coverage of the targeted campaign. 

China's supposed epidemic-control efforts and economic recovery that have led to a "reborn" Wuhan are publicized in daily PR comments made by Chinese officials and state media. 

It is believed the campaign is yet another instance of officials attempting to cast doubt over whether Wuhan is ground zero or not, according to 7 News. 

With distrust of Beijing growing following the initial cover-up attempt by Wuhan officials and growing criticism of their tightening grip on Hong Kong, saving Wuhan's image is an important part of saving China's reputation, says one expert.

"Beijing wants the narrative to be: we handled it, we can help you handle it and (hopefully) we’re the first to have a vaccine that works," said Asia analyst with Eurasia Group, Kelsey Broderick.

"That’s really the only way China can come out ahead of the idea that a wet market in Wuhan started this crisis."

The growing confidence in Wuhan's safe image was displayed at a Wuhan pool party attended by thousands of people who weren't wearing masks. Chinese officials responded to overseas accusations of recklessness by saying that this was an indication of China's success in taming the coronavirus.

When speaking to AFP, Wuhan factory worker Xie Ailiang said: "What risks can there be?"

"I think now Wuhan should be absolutely safe."