China’s crisis management has lessons for the world

By Abdul Rehman Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/13 20:33:41

Medical workers inquire a cured coronavirus patient about his health condition at the rehabilitation center based in the Wuhan Vocational College of Software and Engineering in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

It is time; humans learn that natural calamities strike nations irrespective of their beliefs, race, color and do not take into consideration distinctions of size, wealth, and civilization. However, the ferocity of natural disasters notwithstanding, outbreak of epidemics is a challenge of very different kind. If an epidemic breaks out, it is not a challenge to one country or region alone but the entire humanity, battling which demands collective effort for preventing it spread across borders and killing without impunity.

Western media outlets have gone all guns blazing to identify the causes of virus in China for a variety of reasons. Seeing the number of stories and the type of narratives being propagated, it is evident the West wants to exploit the opportunity to defame China. However, the visible evidence, so far, roars that China is better equipped than any other nation to handle such crises. Their heroics in the past aside, even during the prevailing crisis, China promptly swung into activating the prevention and control mechanism, and to help curb its spread to other regions and beyond own borders. This has once again proven China's ability of quick assessment and capacity of accurate decisions.

In other parts of the world, no doubt transparent environment has appreciably improved governance, but at the same time, it has put leadership under lot of pressure. Resultantly, majority out of them in the face of challenges fail to take timely and balanced decisions. Often, not only they fail in difficult situations like outbreak of an epidemic and indulge in finding a politically correct decision but also waste precious time. On the other hand, Chinese leadership's approach, ranging from immediate measures of enforcing countrywide quarantine during Spring Festival when the entire nation is on the move, speaks volume about their farsightedness. Because, when Chinese move, it simply means many billions and not millions crisscrossing the country and the world.

China witnessed the construction of mega hospitals for thousands of patients in hours than days at break neck speed. However, despite such prompt response, news of neglect of patients suffering from other diseases are surfacing in international media and stories of government officials' slow response are bouncing on social networks as the world has zoomed in on China. 

On the economic front, showing resolve to endure the losses by halting manufacturing sector is no less a remarkable decision by China as well. As it is not only resulting losses in billions of dollars but Chinese adversaries instantly sprang into action as if they were waiting for the opportunity of running rumor mill at full capacity for propagating possible collapse of the Chinese economy. Google News, one out of many online news agencies highly active in Pakistan, is disseminating reports on the impact of virus on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor within a short span on time; seeing the trend it is evident, other partner countries are apparently subjected to similar anti-China campaign. It is evident that their target is to harm Chinese nation's morale and to break the confidence of China's partner countries. Over the years, highly efficient system of near instant response to the peoples' needs has garnered visible credibility, due to which there is no panic and mistrust in China. Therefore, with confidence in leadership, despite knowing that the novel coronavirus so far has no cure and can kill anyone infected, not only common people are volunteering for medical services, the entire nation is willingly following the guidelines issued by the central government. The Chinese people are being marshalled for fighting the epidemic in a Chinese way. 

Analyzing different nations' response while fighting epidemics, it is nightmarish to imagine the extent of damages if the novel coronavirus had struck someone other than Chinese. The outbreak of N1H1 in 2009 is just a decade old story and the way it was managed raised many question on the US' competency, the most developed country in the world. About 60 million people were affected, with close to 20,000 deaths from a virus not as fatal as SARS or coronavirus. 

If prejudice can be put aside, rather than criticism, the world can learn a plethora of lessons from China's response mechanism and approach at mitigating the crisis, which can be valuable in preparing for similar disasters in the future. After the news of outbreak of a killer virus became public, I spoke to government officials, some friends and got an opportunity to speak to a youngster. It was simply amazing to know their resolve, seriousness, and confidence in the Chinese leadership. 

The Chinese people need to talk to the world and tell the real story how they are battling the crisis. Through this path, possibly the present crisis will become an opportunity to exhibit and showcase their resolve and determination. Enhanced interaction with the world will also enable China to recognize countries which have expressed solidarity and are offering China their unconditional support. Though, in prevailing environment, winning worldwide trust may not be easy, but highly responsible approach will help China gain confidence of a greater part of the world.

The author is retired brigadier, former commander of the 88th Infantry Brigade, Pakistan Army.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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