COVID-19, now having engulfed almost the entire world, is rightly described as a once-in-a-century kind of a challenge. At the same time, China’s response to this challenge also leaves no parallels in sight, in recent recorded history of the world.
Just around three months ago, China was criticized, mimicked, ridiculed and made fun of for its handling of the epidemic – that later became global pandemic – in Wuhan. However, today, every passing minute is proving that China’s response was timely, effective, up-to-the-mark, and the best possible approach in the then prevailing circumstances.
It is now on record that China’s measures, which were then taken as too strict, saved not only millions inside China from being infected, but also bought the world precious time to get ready for it. That much of the world did NOT get ready, ready-enough, is another story.
The response has also proven that the Chinese are a nation united against challenges and whenever so required, exhibit, what I would describe as ‘Three Rs’ – Resilience, Responsiveness, and Responsibility.
On top of it is undeniable reality that the country is steered by a very able, forward-looking, visionary leadership that rise up to any challenge – no matter what the scale, scope and spread of it – and selflessly apply their capabilities to lead their people out of such a challenge. No wonders that Chinese people are confident, rather happy, in rallying behind their leaders in such a time of crisis.
It indeed was a testing quarter – precisely some ten weeks – for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The lockdown, the closures of livelihoods, the halt in mainstream economic activities, and virtually no social life for tens of millions, and for a relatively shorter times so for hundreds of millions, is no ordinary thing by any standards or measures. However, the people of Hubei in particular and China at large demonstrated the highest possible level of citizenry and humanity.
Wuhan – the locked-down capital of the most affected Hubei province – was opened on April 8 after around two and a half months of strict measures. Over 80% of China’s total infections (more than 80,000) and deaths (some 3,330+) were recorded in the city. Yet, some 11 million residents of the city would be remembered for braving the harshest measures imposed on any city since World War II, to save the lives of tens of millions of others.
Beyond the leadership at the top, cadres of the Communist Party of China (CPC) all along, provincial and district administrations, deserve credit in their respective roles. And especially the healthcare practitioners and workers did a marvelous job. Many of them lost their own lives too, but did not turn their back on the challenge. That is something to remember for the times to come.
The message has been clear, and resounding: China prioritizes public health and more so human life over everything else – what to talk about economic activity and growth. Economy and growth is for the people, not vice versa, China engraved this principle in the stone for generations to come. And after controlling the pandemic, China has also rolled out a number of financial and taxation measures to minimize the economic losses, especially those of small and medium businesses.
The fight against COVID-19 has also brought another fact to the fore: it is that China is now a technological superpower and, importantly, well-equipped to put its technological prowess to best possible use when it comes to human suffering and misery. From early stages of screening to diagnostics to hospitalization – and for the relief of those locked down and hospitalized – China’s high tech and Artificial Intelligence was put to, perhaps the best humanitarian use ever recorded.
Now, after defeating the malaise at home, China is out to rescue the world grappling with devastation of the virus. It is evident by now that the virus is going to infect millions, if not tens of millions and the death toll is going to be phenomenally high; much of this is because countries in Europe and the US did not take the virus as seriously as they should have.
Chinese aid – medical supplies, expertise as well as cash – has already reached just less than a 100 nations by now. Not only the state but private sector of China – such as AliBaba / Jack Ma Foundation, associations of Chinese enterprises and others – are also engaged tirelessly and dedicatedly to minimize the world’s losses to as low as possible.
Here in Pakistan, several plane-loads of Chinese assistance have already arrived; Chinese doctors are here assisting the local health administration, and moreover the scope of cooperation is being expanded. Europe, reeling under the destruction of the virus, is recipient of mammoth Chinese supplies. Chinese companies operating in Pakistan are generously donating to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. And a lot more is in the pipelines.
In a time where global supply chains are exhausted, China is putting all resources at its disposal to use to meet the world’s foremost necessities – supplies saving lives – while continuing to strive for the topnotch quality of the same. Even a country such as India – China’s arch rival next door – is a major recipient of Chinese aid, official and well as private, to cope with the pandemic.
Unfortunately, Sino-phobic political leadership and opinion-makers in certain countries continue to concoct one conspiracy theory after the other, trying to implicate China in a heinous propaganda instead of devoting their resources – including time and energy – towards the first challenge at hand; dealing with the virus. These self-inflicting allegations, propagandas and campaigns are all set to die their own death.
It is not without solid reasons that officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) are all praise for China’s efforts. The world, getting out of this extraordinary challenge, would remember China’s fight at home and contributions abroad as golden chapter of the history of the mankind.