By Wang Wenwen Source: Global Times
Medical workers transfer a COVID-19 patient in severe and critical condition to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward at the Zhongfaxincheng campus of Tongji Hospital affiliated to Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, April 12, 2020. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)
On Tuesday, The Guardian newspaper reported the results of a survey conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, which gathered opinions from 26,000 people in 25 countries. The survey showed that respondents overwhelmingly believe that the coronavirus was first detected in China. They further said that the Chinese government’s handling of the pandemic was not quick enough. Thus, the report concluded that China lost international trust over its handling of the coronavirus.
Judged from the choices of countries surveyed, the survey is not representative enough. These include the US, some from Europe, and other countries that have seen deteriorating ties with China this year, including Australia and India.
The survey’s results are not surprising either. It echoes an earlier survey by the Pew Research Center which said that unfavorable views of China have reached historical highs in many countries amid the pandemic.
Such opinion polls are politically-driven rather than scientically-based. To contrast this, another study was published by the Dubai Medical Journal in May which found that China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is actually an optimal model for pandemic preparedness and management.
The conclusion was based on research into China’s pandemic response capacity, case identification and surveillance, healthcare facilities, and medical team preparation. In October, an article published in the international medical journal The Lancet described how China was well-equipped to tackle COVID-19.
The dominant world’s views about China are largely in the hands of the US-led West, which leads the control of global discourses. When the pandemic began to rage in the US, US politicians made up an absurd logic that China should be held accountable for the global COVID-19 pandemic and that China should be made to pay a heavy price. Such anti-intellectual and anti-scientific arguments easily gained ground and spread as the world was in a chaotic state, with populism prevailing.
While the H1N1 swine flu globally claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, the world did not point an accusing finger at the US’ inability to handle it. Nor did any country raise the idea of calling H1N1 the “US virus.” The hype that China loses trust internationally over coronavirus handling is another West-led rhetoric against China in the backdrop of the new global landscape and intensifying China-US competition.
Chair of the UK-based Chatham House Jim O’Neill once wrote that, “For many governments, naming and shaming China appears to be a ploy to divert attention from their own lack of preparedness…This blame game is not just unhelpful but dangerous.” However, such rational voices are not mainstream in the global opinion sphere. Many scholars dare not make rational statements as they fear being sidelined in an abnormally anti-China social atmosphere. They fear knee-jerk backlash, especially from social media bullies and trolls.
China is gradually walking out of the pandemic. The IMF predicts that China will be the only economy in the world to show positive growth in 2020. At present, the two US presidential candidates boast about US-style democracy by attacking each other. But there is no talk about the country’s future development plan. In Europe, there is also no clear plan to address the virus. Yet both the US and Europe hesitate to adopt China’s effective anti-virus measures — even as they experience fresh waves of infections.
Many people do not look at the swift response the Chinese government made to cope with an unknown virus, but grapple with the origin of the virus and China’s early response. Fortunately, these myopic perspectives won’t stop China’s development.
The author is an opinion editor with the Global Times. [email protected]