What could possibly link the Chinese city of Wuhan to Chernobyl, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history? At first glance, not much, except that the Chinese term —- (the transcription of Chernobyl appears in simplified Chinese) has surged on Chinese social media when discussing the outbreak of COVID-19, the flu caused by the coronavirus first reported in Wuhan. As public outrage mounts, Chernobyl has become a code word to discuss an extremely sensitive issue — the political future of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Chernobyl and the end of the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was officially disbanded in December 1991. Its dismantling was due to a mixture of economic, military and ethnic factors as well as an ideological opening in the form of glasnost, or transparency, that started in 1986.
This commitment to increased transparency in the USSR was led by then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who believed that reforms were inevitable. One of the many accelerators of glasnost is recognized by historians as the April 1986 nuclear disaster that happened in Chernobyl ….
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