Source:China Daily -Photo: China Daily
As always, China has put people’s life and health first in the fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak, and taken the most resolute and complete quarantine measures to treat patients, save lives and prevent the spread of the virus across the globe.
The right to subsistence, especially the right to life and health, is universally recognized as the most of fundamental human rights. As the history of the fight against infectious diseases shows, in case of a sudden public health emergency, controlling the source of infection and cutting off its transmission channels are the best way to control an epidemic.
China decided to lock down Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the epicenter of the epidemic in China, to prevent the transmission of the virus within the city and to other places, demonstrating its responsibility to ensure the safety and health of the people of Wuhan, Hubei, the whole of China, and even the world. Indeed, it was a tough choice for China to make on the eve of the country’s most important festival (Spring Festival).
Measures necessary to prevent spread of virus
A joint investigation report on the novel coronavirus outbreak released by China and the World Health Organization in late February said that, faced with an unknown virus, China has taken the bravest, most flexible and most aggressive preventive and control measures in history.
As confirmed coronavirus cases in other places rapidly multiplied, some other countries also began adopting emergency measures similar to that of China. For example, since March 10, Italy has imposed a nationwide lockdown, requiring people not to leave home except for health and emergency needs, or unless absolutely necessary. Which shows the importance and necessity of China’s approach to fight the virus.
The history of the fight against flu viruses tells us that hesitation, or allowing ideology to prevail over science, can cost more lives. For instance, it took six months for the United States to declare the H1N1 flu a national emergency since it broke out in April 2009, causing the disease to spread to 214 countries and regions and killing at least 18,449 people that year.
On the other hand, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Feb 15 that China’s strict prevention and control measures to curb the outbreak at its source are encouraging. While he praised the measures for “winning time for the rest of the world” to fight the virus, the joint investigation report said China’s strict measures have helped prevent hundreds of thousands of infections nationwide, creating a strong first line of defense against the global spread of the disease.
Saving people highest form of human rights
An editorial published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, on March 8, too, said the Chinese government has saved tens of thousands of lives. Isn’t making sure as many people as possible avoid contracting a dangerous virus the highest form of human rights?
China’s people-centric prevention and control measures have demonstrated the remarkable advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and won the support of 1.4 billion Chinese people. Thanks to its institutional advantage to “mobilize all resources to do important things”, China dispatched 344 medical teams and 42,342 medical workers from across the country to Hubei, built two makeshift hospitals, and produced billions of face masks, tens of millions of protective gear and millions of reagent test kits in a short period of time, laying a solid foundation for wining the battle against the epidemic.
The United Nations’ Declaration on the Right to Development recognizes the right to development as an inalienable human right. Development also provides fundamental support in the fight against an epidemic. And restoring normal production and the social order, and ensuring people have jobs, incomes and education are the best way to guarantee the right to development.
The epidemic has halted normal economic and social activities in China. So, now that the outbreak has been almost controlled, the government has decided to gradually resume production and other economic activities. It may not be easy but it is the right decision, which shows the long-term vision of Chinese decision-makers, especially because the economy and society cannot be stopped for a long time.
Helping the affected overcome difficulties
In this regard, Zhejiang and some other provinces have set a good example by using “health code” big data to better identify high-risk groups in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission while promoting resumption of production and other economic activities. Some enterprises are using digital technology to enable their employees to work from home as much as possible, while others including Tencent have offered their cloud office systems to the public for free use. And some local governments, through incentives, market procurement and other multiple channels, are helping enterprises get anti-epidemic materials, which are necessary to resume production but in short supply.
Compared with large enterprises, small and micro enterprises have weak shock-resistance capability, so governments at various levels have introduced a series of measures, including phased reduction of their basic old-age pension, delayed payment of unemployment and work-related injury insurance premiums and value-added tax, and announced subsidy provision for stable employment, so as to reduce their operation costs. Financial institutions are, among other things, offering low-interest loans and delayed the repayment of capital and interest for some enterprises in a phased manner to prevent their fund chain from collapsing.
While fighting against the epidemic, the governments at various levels are also providing increased support and subsidies for impoverished people to make sure lower-income families’ right to development is safeguarded. And the adoption of a unique poverty alleviation policy designed to help specific underdeveloped regions will help the country to eradicate absolute poverty by the end of this year.
People-centric human rights
In the fight against the virus, China has adhered to the people-centric human rights policy, working with many countries and international organizations to deal with the outbreak and build a community with a shared future for mankind. China’s concept of a community with a shared future for mankind has been welcomed by many countries and included in several important UN documents.
China has been reiterating that non-traditional security threats such as epidemics are one of the many common challenges facing the world, and no country alone can deal with them. That’s why China has been urging the people of all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind and create a peaceful, tranquil, prosperous, open and beautiful world.
China is by far the main battlefield in the global fight against the coronavirus, and its strict and effective prevention and control measures have not only safeguarded the life and health of people in China, but also greatly contributed to global public health.
The international community has offered sincere and friendly assistance to China to fight the outbreak, with the leaders of more than 170 countries and heads of over 40 international and regional organizations wishing China success in its fight against the virus. By March 2, a total of 62 countries and seven international organizations had pledged to donate materials to China to boost its fight against the outbreak. Thanks to such gestures, the Chinese government and people feel even more confident and capable of winning the battle against the epidemic.
The Chinese government, on its part, has also timely shared its epidemic prevention and treatment plans with international organizations and other countries, while extending help to other governments to fight the outbreak once the situation within the country improved.
China has donated $20 million to WHO to boost its global cooperation program to combat the pandemic. It has also provided reagents test kits to Pakistan, Japan, Iran and African Union member countries. Efforts are also being made to provide medical supplies and other necessary assistance for other countries in need including the Republic of Korea, Iraq, Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. And a team of experienced volunteers from the Red Cross Society of China carrying medical materials is helping Iran fight the outbreak. Such acts reflect the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.
In the face of common threats, cooperation and working together are the only way to protect human rights. A wrong response to a pandemic will not only inflict grave damage on people’s lives and livelihoods and countries’ health, but also harm the world economy. That’s why, the world, more than ever, needs to work together to overcome a common threat.
The author is an expert on human rights studies. The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily.