The Chinese Communist Party reached deep into private business and the broader population to drive a recovery, an authoritarian approach that has emboldened its top leader, Xi Jinping. The order came on the night of Jan. 12, days after a new outbreak of the coronavirus flared in Hebei, a province bordering Beijing. The Chinese government’s plan was bold and blunt: it needed to erect entire towns of prefabricated housing to quarantine people, a project that would start the next morning. Part of the job fell to Wei Ye, the owner of a construction company, which would build and install 1,300 structures on commandeered farmland. Everything — the contract, the plans, the orders for materials — was “all fixed in a few hours,” Mr. Wei said, adding that he and his employees worked exhaustively to meet the tight deadline. “There is pressure, for sure,” he said, but he was “very […]