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President Xi Jinping has consolidated so much power that China's bureaucracy fears acting without his orders, a situation that initially hampered Beijing's response to the Wuhan pneumonia. (Nikkei montage/Reuters/Akira Kodaka)
China up close

Xi's one-man rule hamstrings coronavirus response

Bureaucrats hesitate to move without top leader's orders

KATSUJI NAKAZAWA, Nikkei senior staff writer | China

TOKYO -- On Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Rat, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping, who doubles as the country's president, summoned six other top-level leaders for an emergency meeting.

On what was supposed to be a celebratory day, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee discussed ways to contain the coronavirus that is causing havoc not only in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where it originated, but also across the country and in various parts of the world.

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