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Coronavirus: A threat, not an opportunity to blame, bash, contain, and defame China

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online)    11:16, February 18, 2020

One man’s gain is another man’s loss. At least this is the philosophy that Wilbur Ross, who also happens to be the US Commerce Secretary, adheres to. His statements are not in harmony with those of US President Donald Trump, who emphasized he would continue extensive communication and cooperation between the US and China in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The WHO has already declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global threat, as it has been detected in a couple of dozen countries. While the epicenter of the outbreak is in Wuhan, and most of those infected are in the Chinese province of Hubei, the world must work together relentlessly in order to contain the epidemic worldwide.

In times of crisis and viral epidemics, the world must engage in even closer cooperation. In general, the international reaction has been positive, with a few exceptions, of course. The World Health Organization (WHO) praised China’s efforts to contain the new disease, saying they have "bought the world valuable time" and that other nations must make the most of it. Responsible countries have treated it as a natural disaster and are standing with China in this difficult time, extending all possible moral, diplomatic, political and material support, such as the donation of medical equipment and sending medical staff.

But some of the more opportunistic nations have seen it as a chance to blame, bash, contain, and defame China. US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has said the coronavirus outbreak in China could be positive for the American economy. His statement is based on the philosophy of “Your loss is my gain”, unlike the Chinese thinking, which encourages win-win partnerships. Famous German magazine Der Spiegel ran a front-page report over the weekend featuring an Asian wearing red protective clothing, goggles, and headphones, with the headline "Made in China." This highly racist and provocative publication was not expected from a civilized nation like Germany. Denmark's Jyllands-Posten printed a cartoon of the Chinese flag with virus-like figures in place of the symbolic Golden-Yellow stars. It should be remembered that these acts set bad precedents, and do not help with the global epidemic fight.

President Xi: On the frontline

At the 12th meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee for deepening overall reforms, held on 14th February 2020, President Xi stressed improving the mechanisms for major epidemic prevention and control and the national public health emergency management system. He further emphasized strengthening legislation on public health and assessment of revising laws and regulations concerning infectious disease prevention and treatment.

Under President Xi’s leadership, China is working on a war footing and in unison to defeat the epidemic. The first priority is to confine the virus to a limited area and isolate the infected people so as to control its further spread. Simultaneously, scientists are developing a vaccine against Covid-19. Development of vaccines and its testing on animals and then human trials is a time-consuming process. The state is fully aware and strict legislation and policies are being formulated and implemented to prevent similar outbreaks in the future. Chinese intellectuals have the capacity to formulate a strong policy framework to deal with future disasters too. Formulating relevant laws is easier than their implementation. The strength of the Chinese governance system is that it can effectively implement the policies in their true spirit.

The number of those infected has reached 70,548, with 1,770 deaths by Feb.16. This number may have increased by the time you read this article. But due to its enormous political will and economic strength, we are confident that the leadership and governance system of China will be able to overcome the epidemic soon enough. 

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to People's Daily Online.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected]

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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