Is the demand for COVID-19 reparations gaining momentum?

The European Witch-Hunt was a real debacle of the Early Modern Period. An estimated 50,000 – 80,000 so-called witches were burned and hanged; the majority of them were women. Europe was ravaged with Plague, and disease ran rampant. With no medical treatments available, furious people blamed witches for the illness and plagues or whatever misfortune people had. Facts were never verified, and sentences carried out due to popular demand.

Does the situation sound familiar? I’d say yes.  Almost 500 years later and we are in the middle of a pandemic. They say it’s the “Catastrophe of the Century.” About half of the humanity is under-lockdown. As of now, the global countdown of infected people stands at 2 Million and 137000 people dead. The global economy has suffered trillions of dollars, and leaders across the globe are facing a problem they never prepared for. All this desperation and anxiety makes sane people make insane decisions, and that is the worst fear. 

The US always has lead Global efforts against natural disasters. It lead the world out of the World War two and assumed the status of a global leader. This time around, the focus is somehow to blame, malign, and walk the road of isolation.

Months of lockdown can have an emotional and psychological toll on the people. Still, people in Leadership roles have to keep their nerves intact. There has been an attempt to coerce China in this regard and build up a narrative against it.  The Mail Online said on April 4 that China “owes us £351 billion in compensation” to the UK. Similarly, Senator Lindsey Graham, an insider to the American Establishment, wants China to “pay big time,” including canceling some of the US’ debt to the country, for its initial lackluster response to the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican of Tennessee, who last week said that China should waive some of the US government’s nearly $1trn debt.

China, though a responsible country and a major geopolitical player in the world, still has deep scars from the era of the Opium-Wars and the Eight-Nation Alliance. When the global maritime powers ganged up on Qing-dynasty China and unilaterally imposed penalties and war reparations on China. The reparations included opening up ports, and handing over their control to the invading armies, giving preferential trade rights, paying reparations in silver, and, above all, invading a nation that had a history of remaining in its territory.

Today, China is not the same one as it was 100 years ago. It is a responsible global player who has emerged as a geopolitical power, and has proved its capabilities during its fight against COVID-19. The whole world has witnessed its visionary leadership and coherent strategy based on science and technology during the outbreak. The sensible nations have acknowledged and admired the role played by China during the outbreak, including the global health body, the WHO. Not only has China succeeded in controlling the contagion in China, but it is also assisting the world in fighting the pandemic. Right now, it is the only source of medical equipment in the world. Instead of using this as a political tool, it has offered support during these times. The Chinese experience can be used in countries severely affected by the epidemic and for the rest of the world to prepare earlier. China has to lead this fight and provide dividends to the global community and restarting the economic life of the world.  Who knows, this might be the War which brings China to the position of global leadership.

China has an interest in a stable and peaceful world. It is promoting diplomacy, free and fair trade, globalization, global prosperity, and win-win partnerships. It is keen on maintaining a stable and safe world order.

Moaaz Awan
Moaaz Awan
The Author is a keen China Observer and a Ph.D. Scholar at Tianjin University. His research interests include China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Belt and Road Initiative and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.