Covid-19, as it happens
By Patrick Law
As self-isolation in Canada is entering the third week, we all have plenty of time on our hands, since watching old movies and re-run hockey games is not my favorite pastime, I’ve been watching a lot of news on TV and on the internet, and unavoidably, mostly around the covid-19 situations around the world.
I’ve read a lot of stories, speculations and conspiracy theories galore about the origins of the virus; about whether it’s a natural process, or a man-made bio-weapon, but that’s NOT what I am going to discuss here today, let the medical experts and scientists have sufficient time do their analysis, hopefully, we will know the truth in due course. What I’d like to discuss are what have transpired during the past 3 months, and the world’s actions or non-actions on these, only based on facts and figures.
In late December 2019, Wuhan, a major industrial city in central China, with a population of 11 million, encountered what the doctors there described as a mysterious disease, with flu-like symptoms but not the seasonal flu. The world health organization (WHO) was alerted. And within days, more people rushed to the hospitals with similar symptoms and some patients started to die, Beijing, obviously realized how serious the situation is and started organizing the supporting teams and supply chain from all over China. In the meantime, Chinese Virology scientists started working day and night to analyze the virus, and by January 10, 2020 they successfully identified the disease as a novel corona virus, genetically similar to that of the SARS, MERS and the common flu, yet very distinct. They shared this information with the WHO immediately. As the death toll and confirmed cases continued to mount, on January 23, 2020, Beijing announced the lockdown of Wuhan and eight counties within its vicinity, total population 60 million, approximately same as Italy. On top of this, the rest of China, were advised to self-isolate. This must be a gut-wrenching decision; it practically stops the movement of 1.4 billion people, put the economy on hold, and consider this was during the height of the Lunar New Year festival where up to 300 million people are on the move. I cannot imagine how difficult this decision was.
Upon the announcement of the Wuhan lockdown, and thanks for the video streaming technology, the whole world was watching, some amusingly, how China frantically completed the construction of two full-fledged hospitals with 2500 hospital beds, equipped with the most advanced medical apparatus and 5G networks, all within 13 days. China did not build these hospitals to show off to the world its industrial power, it built it simply for the dire needs of its people, and they know time is life. With the addition of these two hospitals and quite a few other “modular”(方舱医院) temporary hospitals(This efficient measure was initially criticized by the West, but later copied by Italy and the US), and most importantly, Beijing swiftly and decisively mobilized 45,000 healthcare professionals from all over China to help Wuhan to combat the disease, we witnessed how the doctors and nurses worked around the clock trying to treat and save each and every one of the infected, these doctor and nurses, being medical professionals, of course are aware of the extreme danger involved. It was through the altruistic endeavors of these professionals and the organizational skill from the leadership in Beijing, within 4 -5weeks, the seemingly uncontrollable situation started to subside.
This demonstrated to the world, if a government puts its citizens’ wellbeing ahead of its stock market performances, it can achieve miracles for its people, and it did achieve many miracles during the last 40 years. This is why China always come out ahead in international opinion polls on how satisfy they are with their governments. You may think I’m quoting Chinese government’s polls, wrong, it’s based on PEW Research Institute, one of the most respected company in the world, and an American think tank, based in Washington D.C., The poll consistently show that the percentages of the people satisfy with their government is way higher in China than in the US; in 2005 China (72%), US(39%), but the gap has been widening over time; in 2010 it was China(87%) and US(30%), and what will the gap be post-Covid-19? I guess it will be so wide that only China’s bridge building power can connect the two.
China itself is not out of woods yet, but it’s already offering assistance to more than 80 countries in the world with medical PPE’s and professional personnel, and the most valuable thing is that they are sharing the experiences they gained in their battle against this global virus the Covid-19. Let’s pause for moment to review what and how the rest of the world has been doing during this period:
My fellow Canadians, where do you rather be right now among the G7 countries? Right here in Canada! I answered on your behalf.
First, our health system is way better than most other countries, in regards to fighting against the spread of the covid-19, so far our government has performed reasonable well, allocated significant funds to do research and development in the medical field. It’s too early to tell if sufficient funds have been allocated to help those that lose their jobs and business that have to close, I assume and I hope, if the lockdown prolongs, our government will act accordingly. At least, Ottawa is not printing money to save the stock market.
On the down side, however, at the time of this writing, on March 30, our mayor John Tory is quite upset about some people who obviously are disregarding the social distancing policy; they tore up the closure signs at public facilities and ripped off the tapes. I can see some people are still playing basketball at public parks.
Individual liberty is dangerous not only to your health, but also to the community’s as a whole.
By far the most powerful, the richest country on this planet, it’s shameful to see South Korea has tested 10 times more people than the US as of March 6, 2020. And how can a rich country like the US be short of almost everything?
Donald Trump’s flip-flopping statements must have confused its citizens; in early February, he praised China’s effort in combating the Corona virus, saying under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has done a tremendous job. A month later, he accused China of withholding information, under reporting the statistics about the number of confirmed cases and the deaths, the US media, on the other hand, continued their smear and slander campaign; for example, when China made the painful decision to lockdown Wuhan in order to control the spread of the virus, NY times says: only an authoritarian government like China would disregard its citizen’s liberty……………… and when Italy copied China’s decision to implement a lockdown, NY Times praised: The Italian government sacrifices its economy to stop the spread of the virus. Double standard is so obvious.
Honestly, if you accused China under reporting, then in your friggin mind, you should believe the real numbers is higher, much higher? Wouldn’t that alarm you more to react? However, in the first week of February, you were still sitting on your ass and brag to your American citizens that “we are in good shape, we have, what, 15 cases? it will become zero next week”.
When the stock market collapsed, your first reaction was to pressure the Fed to lower the interest rate hoping to boost the market instead of concentrating on the more important issues at hand, which is to contain the spread of the virus. Obviously, time is money to you, the stock market is way more important to you and to the top 1%, as for your citizen’s wellbeing? What’s that? Your handout of $1200 will be welcomed by the American citizens, they deserve it. However, the bulk of your 2.2 trillion is spent to bailout of the top 1% again, they will use it to buy back their own stocks so as to boost the stock market, and just like the 2008 bailout, the Wall Street will get richer again, and the main street will be shafted one more time.
Stop playing the blame game and stop passing the buck, you can blame China all you want, but the more you play this game, the more it will reflect your short comings; your incompetence and your indecision. And this is exactly why and how you made America is number one again (in terms infected and soon in terms of deaths as well) And you obviously do not know the famous quote from Abraham Lincoln that “you can only fool some your citizens all of the time, and all of your citizens some the time, but you can’t fool all of them all of the time.”
To be fair to Trump, the inadequacy of the US public health care system existed long before he became POTUS, Obama and previous presidents had tried in vain to change it. Nothing is going to work, be it Obamacare or Trumpdontcare, the government has to set its priorities straight. How many trillions has the US wasted in the wars of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria etc., etc.? This aggression against other nations only caused millions of innocent people died, and millions more refugees flooded into Europe, and that will undoubtly cause long term instability in Europe. If these trillions were spent at home, the health care system could be greatly improved; its dilapidated third world level infrastructures could have been upgraded.
Final words to Trump, the DNC’s impeachment action might have irritated you, might have caused you to lose focus, but there is no excuse, a good leader have to put his citizen life before everything else, if you do not wake up and set your priorities straight, you and your administration will soon need a ventilator more than your public health systems do.
A few words to the ultra-right warmongers (Pompeo and companies), stop feeding your president faked news and lies, stop your China bashing, do you know why your smear and slander tactics have not worked? Next time take a good look in the mirror before your open your big mouth, you might find the answer.(行有不得，反求诸己)
At the time being, China has been sending supplies and medical professionals to counties in need, for example, Sichuan province to Iran, Shanghai to Italy, Guangdong province to Serbia, etc., there have been strong suggestions that China should send its Taiwan province to help the US, I thought this is really a great idea; Tsai’s government has been your faithful servant for soooo long, for sure she will be eagerly bent over and let you have whatever you need or want.
Post-Covid-19 World Order
I do not have a crystal ball and I’m not a fortune teller, and it’s a bit too early to write about Post Covid-19 World Order, but based on what have transpired during the pass three and a half months, there already are some signs indicating changes will take place once we get through this global crisis.
The last time mankind faced a global crisis was the Second World War, the major change Post WWII was the decline of the United Kingdom, and the transformation of power from an old colonial power to the new Imperial United States.
Will we see a similar change? No, won’t be anything similar, not even close. In my opinion, there are four basic elements, all of which must be present to have a new sole power of the world to emerge, and they are: Economy, Military, Desire to dominate and Culture.
By the end of WWII, the US already processed three of the four elements, i.e. economy, military and desire, through decades of calculated planning and cultivating, through influencing or by pure force; it also acquired the last element-influential Culture.
China, on the other hand, does not process any of the above at present, the only element China can overtake the US in the foreseeable future is economy. Militarily, decades away. Desire? Maybe never(In the recent 3000 years of world history, China had been number one in almost everything for 2800 years, but they did not have the same desire as the western colonialists or the imperialists, there is no reason to assume that they have it now) and the last element -Culture requires all three other element as prerequisites.
The change China would like to see and likely to see is a trend that is subtly taking place, which is the awareness and acceptance in the West by some open minded scholars who have seen all the achievements China have accomplished during the last 40 years, and now, they have eye-witnessed how China’s 1.4 billion people united together to battle the Covid-19, their awareness is further reinforced, they started to accept that, maybe at least the Chinese system is better for the Chinese people, and maybe there is something we can even consider incorporate into our existing system to make ours better.
China just wants to continue to improve its own systems to make them better for the Chinese people, as for whether or not the Western system is good for the western society, it’s really none of China’s concerns.