China's Hubei, Wuhan Communist Party chiefs removed amid epidemic

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Communist Party has replaced the party heads in the coronavirus stricken province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan, state media said on Thursday, reporting the most high profile officials to lose their posts following the epidemic.

Shanghai mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the official Xinhua news agency said without explaining why Jiang was removed.

Ying worked closely with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the latter’s time as party boss and governor of Zhejiang province.

Wuhan party chief Ma Guoqiang has also been removed, Xinhua reported separately. He has been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party boss of Jinan city in eastern Shandong province.

Officials in Hubei have been heavily criticized for their handling of the epidemic in a province of almost 60 million people. The outbreak began in Wuhan late last year, and has spread throughout China, killing more than 1,000 and infecting tens of thousands across the country.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang, Yawen Chen, Min Zhang and Huizhong Wu; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill & Simon Cameron-Moore

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