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China's measures boost trust in government

By Oriol Caudevilla | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-08 08:48
Medical workers in Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on Jan 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

It may be too soon to predict all of the consequences, but it is a safe bet that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed and is changing the world in many unexpected ways.

The extent of those changes depends on how long the pandemic lasts, and other factors such as how many jobs have been lost, and the depth of the damage to the global economy.

It defies belief that, having learned of the approaching pandemic two months earlier, the United States-the world's richest and most advanced country-could not supply its health workers with sufficient personal protective equipment.

It is odd to see that while its current supply of personal protective equipment is mainly being flown in from China, this did not stop the White House from blaming the supplier over its own sad state of unpreparedness against a pandemic.

Even though many analysts in the West predicted in late February that the coronavirus crisis could be China's "Chernobyl moment", in truth it has proved to be the opposite. The manner in which China dealt with the epidemic has boosted the people's trust in the central government.

Note how quickly the spread of the virus was brought under control through lockdowns; how hospitals were erected within weeks; and how military medical staff were mobilized to assist overworked civilian doctors and nurses.

This is in stark contrast to the White House's fights with various US states in tackling COVID-19 over lockdowns, shortage of resources, social distancing and resumption of work.

China's success in overcoming the pandemic within its borders and its readiness to share its findings on the disease are sources of relief to the world. So, too, are its international rescue efforts, flying planeloads of medical equipment, together with experienced Chinese medical staff, to assist countries in the grip of COVID-19.

Just ask Italians and Spaniards what they think of China as a positive international influence.

A significant portion of the international community must be asking themselves whether they should continue to align with the so-called "leader of the free world", or rather, throw in their lot with the one who comes to their aid in their hour of need.

Once this evil wind has blown past, we can expect to see a new world order that attaches more weight to tangible things, and less to media hype.

According to a survey published by Italian market research group Osservatorio SWG in the first week of April, 36 percent of Italians believe China should be Italy's main partner in developing alliances outside the European Union, compared with 30 percent for the US. (The remaining 34 percent were unsure).

While China has been providing expertise, respirators and surgical masks to countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, the US was focused on blocking borders and blaming China.

Some will ask whether China's airlifts of assistance are driven by pure charity, or by soft power considerations. But what matters most to countries in need is that Chinese assistance was rendered quickly and, most important, unconditionally.

Clearly, China has answered the call-even if the US wants to attribute ulterior motives to its massive and speedy distribution of supplies and medical expertise.

An equally important issue that has surfaced is the methodology employed by China in overcoming the coronavirus.

Besides adopting traditional virus containment measures, the use of artificial intelligence and data science has proved effective in China and South Korea, demonstrating once again that Asia is leading in the AI race.

Measures like geographical location of people were widely disregarded in the West until a few weeks ago. Most countries have since embraced them for their practicality. This was just the application of the right medicine for the disease.

Sadly, again, history will show that some Western media are not satisfied with simple facts.

The author has worked as a business analyst for a Hong Kong-listed company. He has a doctorate in Hong Kong real estate law and economics. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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