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Coronavirus outbreak highlights China's social fragility

Conflict 'that will cause more damage than disease itself' is being laid bare

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, speaks to people at a supermarket in Wuhan on Jan. 27. Li defended the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak at the State Council on Jan. 20.   © Xinhua/AP

TOKYO -- An outbreak of pneumonia caused by a previously unknown coronavirus is raging through China, revealing not only the authorities' failure to take prompt action to contain the epidemic but the huge social distortions masked by the country's rapid economic development.

Coronavirus fears are spreading across the world as millions of Chinese travel abroad during the Lunar New Year holiday.

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