Bill Bishop, an analyst who writes the China-focused Sinocism newsletter, wrote earlier that the surest signs that the Communist Party “thinks victory really is at hand” are if Xi visits Wuhan, kids go back to school, and a new date is set for the delayed “Two Sessions” political meetings, originally slated to take place this month.

Prior to today’s visit, Xi had been under fire for his lack of public appearances as the epidemic raged. His deputy, Li Keqiang, visited frontline workers and residents in Wuhan in January, while vice premier Sun Chunlan has been leading the government’s response to the crisis in Hubei. Xi did not make his first public appearance until Feb. 10, when he visited a residential community in Beijing, though state media had been cultivating the image of the leader as a sort of behind-the-scenes commander of the country’s efforts against the outbreak.

With public anger over the government’s management of the epidemic still palpable, Xi’s visit is likely to be conducted in a tightly controlled fashion. Just five days ago, angry residents in a Wuhan residential complex chanted “it’s all fake!” from their windows during Sun’s inspection of the neighborhood.

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