Project Syndicate (USA): pandemic and inappropriate promotion of China

ToLearmonth (California, USA) — just a month ago, China was an epidemic of coronavirus Covid-19. Thousands of new cases of infection were confirmed every day. The hospital was overcrowded. People were dying by the hundreds. People could not get out of the house. However, the government imposed draconian quarantine seem to work: it seems that the epidemic is now under control. And the Chinese authorities clearly ignored its most important lessons.

Suffice it to recall how they fought the crisis. Having learned that, Wuhan city, Hubei province has a new coronavirus, local authorities, as we know, at first instinctively tried to hide this information. The police have punished people who reported on the epidemic, for example, the Wuhan Dr. Lee Manilana, subsequently died from this disease. (Recently, the Wuhan police apologized to the family Do).

This would force the Chinese leadership to assess the real costs of censorship and to revise the appointment is not qualified party members to key positions in health care. The head of the health Commission of Hubei province, people laid off during the crisis, did not have a medical education and experience in medical institutions.

in addition, some countries, particularly Singapore and Taiwan, have managed to contain the spread Covid-19, without resorting to the measures, causing severe damage to the economy, unlike China, which has placed at least 760 million Chinese people under home quarantine different degrees of severity. The leaders of China would do well to look at the experience of these countries to learn more intelligent crisis response.

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But the Chinese authorities do not just want to learn from past mistakes, they try to hide them. Today almost the whole world economy are actually forced to stop and contain the spread born in China virus, and the number of deaths in Italy (it’s the new epicentre of the pandemic) has already exceeded 7.5 thousand. In these conditions the Communist party of China has included the full power of its propaganda machine. Her goal: to change public perceptions about the crisis Covid-19.

To do this inside China, leaders of the CPC praise for the successful mobilization of a country to “win the war” with the virus. And encourage the spread of Chinese social networks exaggerated or blatantly false stories about the “inept” response of Western democracies to the epidemic.

And abroad the propaganda machine of China waving the declining numbers of new cases of contamination as proof that a strong centralized government more effective democratic governance. Simultaneously, the government sends humanitarian aid, including health care workers and medical products, the most severely affected countries, including Iran, Italy and the Philippines.

However, if the Chinese leadership hopes to use pandemics Covid-19 to build and demonstrate its soft power, it probably will be a very strong disappointment. Though, because the world isn’t going to forget the rowhether played in the spread of the virus initial attempts of China to hide everything.

outside China today dominates the view that the pandemic could have been avoided if the country’s leaders have taken decisive action to immediately and transparently. PDAs is how to challenge these views, but she can’t force you to do the same international media. Chinese propaganda has never been able to achieve great success in the free areas of ideas; moreover, most previous attempts of the CCP to influence international public opinion failed completely.

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And few people are tempted by the strategy of containment of the pandemic in the Chinese style. Closing to quarantine the entire country economically very costly to China. Expected first quarter GDP will fall by 9%. And if you hit a second wave of infections, and it probably is, then repeat the same strategy can turn the economy in ruins.

of Course, if it was the only way to save people’s lives, then people could support such a strategy. But Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan have clearly managed to find a balance between protecting public health and maintaining economic activity.

against this background, humanitarian assistance to China are of little help to fix the reputation of the country. Yes, it’s better than not to offer itfirst aid in General. But the country could do more to help the health systems in the world, starting with open access to huge volumes of data and knowledge that she has gained about the virus.

China could also increase the production of medical PPE, especially protective suits and surgical masks. Prior to the outbreak Covid-19 China produce half of the surgical masks in the world, and since then he has increased their production by almost 12 times. If China really put the epidemic under control, then nothing prevents him to donate medical remedies that help to save lives, the most affected countries, which is sorely lacking.

In particular, China should make a major gift to the U.S. of, say, a billion surgical masks and one million protective suits (enough for ten days for 50 thousand workers). Such a move would help ease tension in relations between the two countries, and sufficiently, together with the European Union and Japan, they could conduct a coordinated fight against the pandemic, including measures to support the global financial system and large stimulus packages to prevent economic depression.

When this pandemic, in the end, will end, people will remember what China did, not what he was saying. A country may enter in the history as either the author of the crisis caused by Covid 19, or as one of the authors of victory over him.

the new York times contain estimates of the solely foreign media and do not reflect the views of the editorial Board of the new York times.