OPINION / VIEWPOINT
Failure of US to curb COVID-19 shows China made right decisions in epidemic fight
Published: May 01, 2020 01:21 PM

People wearing face masks wait in line to do shopping at a Whole Foods store during the coronavirus pandemic in the Brooklyn borough of New York, the United States, on April 14, 2020. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua)


 
No one ever expected that the novel coronavirus would spread around the world like it has. Things are changing too fast, and a lot of perceptions are being overturned.

When Wuhan was locked down, there were many voices in the West criticizing the city from the perspective of human rights, and even some people in China had doubts, thinking that the dangers of the virus were being seriously exaggerated. Since the lockdown prevented people from doing simple things like playing mahjong together, the overall mainstream attitude toward it was negative. In those days, some of the fiercest voices expressed deep disappointment that the country had not learned any lessons from the SARS disaster. This type of fevered commentary was an especially popular line among the public opinion. 

No one knew then that there would later be a global outbreak to testify to the validity of the lockdown. I think if we hadn't experienced SARS, we probably wouldn't have locked down Wuhan. If China did not have an extremely strong political will, it would not have been able to make the decision to seal the city. Imagine if we had put the closure of the city to public debate, would it have been accepted at that point?

To be honest, during the lockdown, some people contacted me in private and said they thought that the country had overly responded to the epidemic and that the economic loss would be too great. If it weren’t for the later ability to compare the anti-epidemic performance of Western countries such as the US to China’s, we may never have known that China was right in almost every step it took starting from the Wuhan lockdown. If China had tackled the virus the way the US is doing, millions of people would have been infected and 100,000 to 200,000 Chinese people would have died.

Many things happening in other countries are surprising. Isn't the US a democratic society?  How come American lives are so much “cheaper” than Chinese lives? China would not accept high death tolls from the epidemic, but in the US 1,000 to 2,000 people die every day.  US President Donald Trump really doesn't seem to be taking people’s lives seriously – all for the sake of an election .

Some Chinese experts made some misjudgments at the early stage of the outbreak and people are still angry with them. Trump had repeatedly downplayed the risk of the outbreak and brushed aside warnings from various institutions, and although the mainstream US media have scolded him, it has all led to nothing.

Then there is the fact that Trump can boost himself in the US and shirk his responsibility for failing to fight the epidemic by publicly lying about China. Why is the American public so easily fooled? 

I believe that this outbreak will disrupt the value system of human society, and that the impact we are currently feeling is probably just the beginning. A growing number of scientists believe that COVID-19 will persist in human society, meaning its political, economic and social consequences are inevitable. China has withstood the initial test of the epidemic, but no one knows what will happen next. What is important is that China's fight against the epidemic is not a closed one. We will still interact with the US and other countries. The outbreak has incredible turnaround power, which the Chinese must be vigilant about.

Please pay special attention. Although the US has done very poorly in its fight against the epidemic, its endurance is unmatched. If the outbreak goes on like this for a few years, and the US keeps losing a lot of people, that country will probably still be able to adapt to the situation. But imagine if something similar happened in China; could Chinese society accept it? For example, once the US develops vaccines and specific drugs, or the societies of Europe and the US gradually adapt to the mortality rate of COVID-19 and open up to each other and consolidate the value differences with China, what will China do then?

China cannot relax, as the potential damage to China from making mistakes is likely to be much greater than to the US. We need to constantly improve our strengths to make up for our weaknesses. We need to seize the day to make China a much more resilient country. The next few years will be difficult for China.

The author is the Global Times editor-in-chief. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn  

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