Fate is conspiring to make XI Jinping’s job very difficult. Managing China’s internal turmoil is turning out to be a veritable Odyssey. Pollution levels in China’s megacities are unbearably high; images of grey skies, reduced visibility, and citizens wearing protective masks have been seen all over the world. The carcasses of 16,000 pigs and 1,000 ducks were recently found in one of Shanghai’s rivers, and their source has yet to be ascertained. The outbreak of a new strain of avian flu is just the latest example of China’s negative astral alignment. Sixteen people between Shanghai and Hangzhou have fallen ill with the new virus – dubbed H7N9 – and six have died. Three live poultry markets have been closed and 20,000 animals culled because they were carrying the virus, although there has been no proof of transmission between animals and humans, and cooking the meat kills the virus. Nevertheless, fear of contagion has been winding its way through the population. Particularly troubling is the threat of a mutation of H7N9 and the potentially devastating consequences. The media reports with alarm, and sometimes panic. Those in charge are often accused of not doing enough, but the protests represent fear more than anything. The World Health Organization has confirmed that “the response of the Chinese authorities has been excellent.” But the SARS epidemic is the first thing that comes to mind. Ten years ago, Chinese authorities tried to hide the seriousness of the first cases, dismissing them as anti-Chinese Western propaganda. Only once the death toll became too big to hide were the Minister of Health and the mayor of Beijing removed. China admitted to its shortcomings, the replacements were up to the task, and the SARS virus was soon contained. That marked the first time that a digital means of mass communication was able to defeat the lying stubbornness of the government. Today, social networks and a more independent investigative journalistic body are ready to attack every crack in the wall of censorship that surrounds the most scandalous facts. And so this time the government is not able to hide the problem, as it tries to intervene and address the fears and health of its citizens. At the same time, the economy and the markets are much more ruthless because they don’t need to answer to public opinion. KFC (in China the fast food brand Kentucky Fried Chicken is known only by its acronym) has seen its sales fall dramatically. The Hong Kong stock exchange is also falling, and the Hang Seng is at its lowest since November 2012. People are selling out of fear for the repercussions from the new avian flu. The nightmare of 2003 – and the three-month standstill of commerce and tourism – is still fresh in their minds. Not by coincidence did the three major Chinese airlines – Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern – register the most substantial losses, between 8.3 and 9.8%. It is this unprecedented combination of economics and public opinion that is forcing Beijing to reform its approach to the truth. The country is discovering that crises and problems are inevitable when you are growing, and that they can no longer be marginalized. Only by accepting the fallibility of one’s own actions, which may be at the root of the current disasters, will China be able to perform self-criticism and therapy at the same time – like it did in 2003 – to then find itself stronger and more stable as a result.