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China again sets example in virus fight

By Martin Sieff | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-19 07:16
SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

China still needs time to stop the new outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing in its tracks. Tragically, the virus continues to run rampant in countries around the world and has proven its exceptional transmission capabilities. But there is no doubt that Beijing has acted swiftly and decisively to contain the new outbreak, and once again set an example in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In just a few days since the detection of the first handful of new cases on June 11,Shandong, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces, even Shanghai have introduced a range of quarantine measures for travelers from Beijing. Again, it was the right thing to do.

In the United States, effective responses against the virus have been disastrously undermined from the very beginning by the endless fissures running through American society. The rigid, intolerant know-nothing ideologists have let their prejudices override clear scientific evidence in what ought to be the overwhelming imperatives of biological survival.

Conspiracy crackpots on the right refuse to recognize every lockdown to contain the pandemic as a principled and sane effort to protect human life and contain the spread of the virus. In fact, lockdowns have proven to be the best and most reliable way to contain pandemics throughout recorded history.

Instead, the US right seethes with conspiracy theories claiming it is all a plot by international bankers, "Big Government", the European Union or China or the latest hobgoblins of their imagination to "shut down freedom" or prevent the invisible magic hand of Adam Smith (invisible because without human intervention it does not exist) to solve all problems by waving the magic wand of "freedom".

It is as bad on the left. Social media platforms in the US too quiver with claims that the US president wants to "punish" or even depopulate New York City or other major metropolises where the pandemic has been raging.

In reality, it is the witless determination to deny the dangers of the virus that is the main reason for the high death tolls in major US metropolises, most of all in New York City.

Throughout February, long after Chinese scientists issued clear warnings and when China's own energetic and highly successful measures to cut down unnecessary travel and slow the spread of the virus were clear, US politicians from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York continued to boast of the "openness" of their societies, which led to hundreds of thousands of people contracting the virus and tens of thousands dying from it.

超达策略配资Therefore, it is clear that the only way to protect human beings in their multiple millions from the pandemic is exactly the way China is once again doing it: governments need to act openly, fearlessly and decisively in shutting down intercity and interregional travel to the maximum degree possible. And, as China has shown, this can be done without totally paralyzing the economy.

Also, personal protective equipment needs to be mass-produced and circulated as widely as is needed accompanied by massive testing on a national scale. Once again, this must be done in a comprehensive manner, which the US administration has manifestly failed to do so far.

Finally, levels of public trust in the nation's health authorities are of crucial importance. The dark side of the internet facilitates the wild profusion of crackpot theorizing by self-proclaimed "experts" of no medical, statistical or other scientific standing.

I have long been fascinated by the extraordinary degree of absurd conspiracy theories of every kind that teem online. What is especially revealing is that the ignorant and paranoid idiots are also the most reckless, confident and, of course, ludicrously incompetent in proclaiming their own "explanations" for "why" the virus spreads "here" and not there. Without exception, they bend, distort and ignore reliable data that give the lie to their ravings.

超达策略配资China and the Republic of Korea are different, indeed contrasting countries in terms of size and political structure. But both have vast, well-educated populations informed by serious media outlets and both have repeatedly shown serious respect for scientific truths and complexities.

It is the West, especially the United Kingdom, the US and the European Union, that has proven complacent and lethargic in rising to the challenge of the crisis.

超达策略配资China's latest action to contain the virus should work well. But even if it manages to only slow the spread of the new wave of pandemic, it would set the right example, which in turn would need to be studied and emulated by the rest of the world. Scientific, targeted and preemptive actions, nothing less, are required to save human lives.

The author is a senior fellow at the American University in Moscow.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

  
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