West’s arrogance key obstacle to solidarity in global pandemic fight

By Jin Canrong Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/7 17:37:30

A piece of cloth with words "Doctors and nurses, you are our heroes" is seen on a fence in Turin, Italy, on April 4, 2020. Between Saturday and Sunday, the COVID-19 death toll in Italy was 525, the lowest one-day total since March 19, when COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, claimed 427 lives. (Photo by Federico Tardito/Xinhua)

The continuous spread of the COVID-19 has posed a huge threat to humanity. More and more people are comparing it to the 1918 flu. Some in the field of international relations believe that this is "World War III," or more precisely, the first world war of non-traditional security. It is hard to tell whether the battle against COVID-19 has reached the scale of a world war, but it is indeed the largest "black swan event" in recent years. The COVID-19 is a big test of the governance capacity of all countries.

When the coronavirus first hit Wuhan three months ago, people didn't know it was so contagious. China has adjusted its mitigation and control measures in a timely manner and has given full play to the advantages of the Chinese system. Overall, China has been doing a good job.

As China has basically curbed the spread of the virus, even as it continues to rage around the world. The COVID-19 has become a global challenge, and the international community needs to abandon ideological disputes and cooperate in the fight against the pandemic. As China is consolidating its domestic situation, it is also providing personnel and material assistance for other countries.

Neither the US nor Europe has seized the window of opportunity created by China. The US has wasted time on cynicism and even allowed wearing a face mask to become politicized. It is ridiculous that common sense has been kidnapped by ideology.

There are three kinds of arrogance behind the West's errors. First, racial arrogance. Some Western people believe they are more physically fit than people from Asia.

Second, cultural arrogance. The origin of the COVID-19 may be related to wildlife. Some Chinese people even used to demonize other Chinese people for eating wild animals, which has also deepened Westerners' prejudice against Chinese cuisine. But this is not entirely fair. There is a long tradition in the West, dating from the era of Westerner nobles, of hunting all sorts of wild game. There are examples of people eating exotic, wild animals in many parts of the world.

The third arrogance has to do with the West's system of governance. Western countries emphasized that the actions of their governments are "transparent," allowing people to better manage themselves because they take responsibility for themselves. 

This has been proven to be blind confidence. 

Because of arrogance, the early reactions to the virus by the US and Europe were terrible. Considering China's early experience, it is somewhat unforgivable that they made such serious mistakes.

As the epidemic intensifies, the US and Europe are gradually adopting stricter prevention and control measures. But there have always been several problems in the process. 

First, the governing parties have spent too much effort considering the interests of minorities and small groups. This is obvious in the US. Washington continues to put short-term political interests above people's lives and social rights are a problem in the Western democratic system.

Second, they give capital to high a priority. When facing the COVID-19 fight, some politicians worry more about the epidemic affecting the economy, especially the stock markets. This is different from China's people-oriented concept, showing that Western countries are indeed capitalist societies.

Third, the US and Europe have implemented social Darwinism in their policies. Since the spread of the COVID-19, some high-rank officials in the US and European countries have proposed "herd immunity." Some even said elderly people, if diagnosed as COVID-19 patients, should sacrifice their lives to protect the overall situation.

Cooperation should be the priority to overcome the epidemic. But the situation is not optimistic in the US and Europe. Local governments in the US have passed the buck to each other, and many EU countries have intercepted medical supplies and blocked borders. Some countries are now willing to accept China's assistance but then turn around to blame China. This is not conductive to the international cooperation in the COVID-19 fight.

In the past, the West gave people the impression of being developed and powerful in all aspects. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made people realize this is not exactly the case. Western countries are weak in the application of internet, big data and transportation networks. Their industrial production and technological capabilities are not as strong as one might expect. They have exposed many problems in their medical systems and government leadership. 

China has shown strong leadership, industrial and technological capabilities and the entire society's cultural cohesion and optimism in the fight against COVID-19. China is willing to contribute to the global fight against the pandemic, and Western countries need to change their previous wrong ideas as soon as possible.

The author is associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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