China’s governance model well-suited to confronting virus outbreak

By Zhang Shuhua Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/5 12:38:43

Medical care team members queue to board a plane setting off for Central China's Hubei Province, in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi Province on Tuesday. A medical care team comprised of 101 members set off for Hubei from Nanchang to combat the novel coronavirus pneumonia on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

As China spares no effort to combat the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), some Western media outlets have launched a fresh round of criticism of China's governance model in dealing with the spread of the pneumonia. The New York Times in late January published an article titled "Coronavirus Exposes Core Flaws, and Few Strengths in China's Governance," suggesting that "China's political system might be getting in the way of its ability to confront the coronavirus outbreak."

The 2019-nCoV is new to humanity and its unexpected and unprecedented proliferation would severely test any country no matter their system of governance. 

Since it was first detected in late 2019, the epidemic has been evolving on a daily basis. It is still going to take scientists time to fully understand how the virus transmits and affects people, and this has nothing to do with a system of governing. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic the US system was clearly overwhelmed, as an estimated 50 million Americans were infected and 10,000 people died.

The outbreak of the 2019-nCoV virus has coincided with Chinese Lunar New Year, when tens of millions of people travel for the Spring Festival holiday during the world's largest annual human migration. The vast scale of the movement of people and China's population cannot by imagined by people in other countries, especially those in the West. US residents should try to imagine their Christmas travel rush and then quadruple it. 

Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Central China's Hubei Province, is the most populous in Central China and one of the country's most important transportation hubs. 

These are the main causes of the epidemic's rapid spread and has nothing to do with China's political system. The fact is, the Chinese government has made a massive and prompt response. The full genome sequence of the coronavirus was confirmed soon and has been shared with the rest of the world. Research on the virus by Chinese scientists has gained international recognition. The new virus still poses a serious threat to all humanity, and China is leading the world in understanding it.

All countries inevitably  encounter emergencies. While China battles the coronavirus, wildfires are burning in Australia. The flu pandemic in 2009 spread across the US. In dealing with its emergencies, China has some unique advantages. 

China's national system is capable of overcoming the constraints of various departments, agencies and local bureaucracies, and preventing different political forces from passing the buck. Under this system, China can concentrate on accomplishing major tasks, build strong cohesiveness and efficiently fight any emergency. The construction of Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital, which was completed in 10 days, displays China's speed and efficiency.

The outbreak of virus has indeed presented a huge challenge to China's central and local governments. It has undermined festivities of the Chinese New Year and to some extent frustrates public confidence. Some Chinese people have expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of the outbreak by some authorities. 

This East Asian country will reflect, and reinforce its emergency response efficiency, and ensure the vitality and dynamism of local governments. China should improve its systems of information collection and feedback, error correction, and decision-making. It could turn this negative into a positive by learning lessons as it deals with the virus, which will enhance the work of the government.

The Chinese government has been exerting all-out energy to prevent and control the spread of the virus and has taken extreme and effective measures. It has locked down cities, isolated infected people and their close contacts, it has extended the week-long national holiday, it is promptly releasing accurate information, and is building and opening hospital with amazing speed. The nationwide prevention and control system has effectively curtailed the export of the virus to the rest of the world.

China has made great self-sacrifice by reducing internal travel and international exchanges, incurring huge economic losses. The moves China is taking are designed to not only protect Chinese people, but the rest of world as well. This is how a responsible big country deals with an emergency. 

It's no wonder Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said on January 29 that China deserves the international community's gratitude and respect for having taken very serious measures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak and limit the number of cases overseas.

In the face of non-traditional global security issues, such as new viruses and large-scale infectious diseases, all countries must take a proactive, cooperative approach in dealing with unprecedented international challenges. 

The author is Director of the Institute of Political Sciences, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus