Five ways to improve the approach to COVID-19 in our own countries. Not by being distracted by people who would rather attack China. By opening up to what China, the big guinea pig in the fight against this new, murderous virus, has to offer.
1. Stop believing conspiracy theories
The website VRT.nws warned us this week conspiracy theories. Journalists and professors give examples of sensational, sometimes insane stories that circulate on social media. However, they do not list the most harmful and influential conspiracy theories. Those are the suspicions against “the Chinese” and “their leaders”.
Liberal, democratic opinion leaders, politicians and even an academic here and there come to fool us every week, which is why we should mistrust their Chinese colleagues. “The Chinese are not telling the truth, they are afraid to open their mouths anymore, they are censoring. Their numbers are never accurate. They want to impose their dictatorial system on us. They tackle the epidemic with a sledgehammer, which is counterproductive. ”
The figures who conjure up a new variation on the same kind of themes from their top hats undermine cooperation. Some of them initially believed that COVID-19 was a golden opportunity to overthrow Xi Jinping and his followers. (They even more or less openly alluded to this in prestigious media). That was apparently more important than looking objectively at the Chinese government. When the seriousness of the matter was clear, he went to work. National and local authorities tried to defuse the crisis with great courage and decisiveness, but above all with the collective spirit.
Western know-it-alls did not have a good word for Beijing in January and February. Among other things, it was their job to waste all the time the Chinese have won for all of us. In the end, they had to admit not only that their hate object Xi would emerge stronger from the crisis, but also that the clay-footed giant they see in China was conquering COVID-19. Then the story was, “Yes, with dictatorial means that we would never impose on our human rights society.” And again time was lost. Now the epicenter has shifted, first from Hubei to Europe (and especially the economically weakest part of Europe) and finally to the United States. There, Trump said that if there were “only” 100,000 deaths from the epidemic in his country, he would see it as a real success.
Even in the greatest need, China’s political opponents now want the people to turn away from the country’s help. “The Chinese are only helping to divert attention from their mistakes at the beginning of the epidemic. They make propaganda, want to gain influence, penetrate us. Their advice is useless and their stuff is no good. ” A disaster in the US is now becoming increasingly apparent. Budget cuts from the recent past and the President’s mismanagement have left the people of the leading Western nation extremely vulnerable. To blame China becomes one new conspiracy theory surfaced about the number of deaths that occur in Wuhan is counted.
2. Let us trust the Chinese government, its diplomats and ambassadors
They say: “The reason why we support other countries in their fight against the pandemic is very simple: we are trying to save more lives. There are no geopolitical considerations in the game, although some people claim that. ” “Our honesty and help are genuine…. When we first started fighting COVID-19 in China, some of the aid we received was inadequate, but we chose to believe in the good intentions of the countries that helped and respected us. ”
Europeans have good reasons to take those words literally. After all, saving human lives on other continents and in its own region means: securing China itself. The People’s Republic really does not see itself as a new sole ruler who wants or can replace the United States in that position. The leaders of the country make this clear in words and deeds.
China has been practicing the 5 principles of peaceful coexistence since the 1950s. That is, mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence. In 1982, China incorporated those principles into its constitution. In 2012 and 2013, Hu Jintao and his successor Xi Jinping modernized them into “an international society with a common future for humanity.”
For the Chinese, countries can cooperate very well, even if they have a different system. They do not suffer from an urge to mission or a need to export their revolution. They are big proponents of: see if you can learn something from each other (but without forcing it on each other).
3. See if we can learn something from China
We can do that very well, and selectively adapted to our own circumstances. In our system, too, it is possible to really put COVID-19 at the top of the agenda, to let everything give way to it. There are also politicians here who want to put people and their health first. The same applies to us: restore the economy later, but of course as soon as possible. Stay vigilant while doing so. Building trust, uniting the population, fighting and treating COVID-19 on a scientific basis. Disseminate sound information in a fair and transparent manner. Most Chinese authorities have done all of this from top to bottom. This is also possible in our countries and is it already happening here and there (even kings show the way here).
Of course, China is a socialist country and the aversion or fear of socialism is deeply rooted in us for all kinds of reasons. But it doesn’t hurt to look curiously at what Xi means by: “Our greatest strength lies in our socialist system … This is the key to our success”? At Carlos Martinez, a British Marxist, we read: “In a socialist country the government is not primarily accountable to companies and banks, but to the people ”… As Eric Li, a venture capitalist himself, put it:“ There is no question that a group of billionaires could control China’s political office in the same way that billionaires control American policy-making. ” “The fight against COVID-19 meant choosing between saving millions of lives or protecting economic growth, and China unequivocally chose saving lives “.
At the express request of the state, many large Chinese companies have made their services available to help fight the virus. The best known examples are Alibaba and the Jack Ma Foundation. With its relatively centralized system, China was able to mobilize very quickly various essential sectors and professions: healthcare providers, researchers, specialists in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and medical imaging. The activists who have communist parties everywhere could take the lead in ensuring that people’s basic needs were met while they were trapped at home, by coordinating the supply of food and medicine.
What few in the West know: the development of universal health insurance in China over the past 15 years represents according to the World Bank “The greatest extension of insurance coverage in human history.” It number of hospital beds per 1,000 people is 4.34 (latest data from 2017, OECD). That has made the country more resilient to COVID-19. It was not enough. Emergency hospitals had to be built and equipped at lightning speed. The government is investigating the weaknesses to be ready for the future.
And then this: being socialist countries internationalist. You can see it in the position of “small” Cuba and “huge” China. China is now providing maximum aid to 120 countries around the world, including those whose governments have nothing but enmity for Beijing.
4. Exchange even more knowledge and experiences with Chinese researchers and WHO trust
It is, after all, pure madness that calls should be made to trust and support the major global health organization. The WHO itself now also has to endure attacks because it is too positive towards Beijing. Fortunately there are still European and American doctors, and other health care providers who continue to recognize WHO and who are willing to learn from their Chinese colleagues.
An international community of researchers is now intensively pursuing urgent efforts to develop vaccines and medicines. With them, the work of the Chinese is highly appreciated and remains welcome. It is the World Health Organization who promotes and creates these positive exchanges.
5. Continue to accept or purchase medical devices from China
Trust is essential for this too. On that basis, governments and institutions will purchase products from the lists made available by the GOC, or which have a proper certificate. In some countries there is a dire shortage of medical devices. They order them in China, but often fail to check the reliability of the supplier, or for some reason do not use the recommendations made by Chinese embassies and consulates. Companies that did not have a certificate to distribute medical equipment in China, nevertheless managed to obtain a CE certificate for import into Europe.
Now it is not the case that only exemplary citizens live in China, or that the government controls everything and everyone. The complaints that some people had delivered inadequate relief supplies led to the Chinese government intervening. He has decided on March 31 that from now on only medical products may be exported from companies that have a license for the Chinese market from the National Medical Products Administration. The rule applies to masks, test kits, protective clothing, respirators and infrared thermometers.
Following the example of the Chinese health care providers, WHO says: “Test, test, test!”. Let’s add to that: “Trust, trust, trust!”
Dirk Nimmegeers is an editor at chinasquare.be.