Published: 14:44, March 2, 2020 | Updated: 07:09, June 6, 2023
China is not alone in fight against novel coronavirus
By Long Xingchun

As the Chinese government and people are battling the novel coronavirus epidemic, governments and people around the world have expressed their sympathy and offered support to China. Many countries have extended help by providing China with a large number of materials for epidemic prevention. 

However, some individuals in some countries have maliciously referred to the virus as the “Wuhan virus” and “China virus” on social media. 

The Wall Street Journal even published an article titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” on Feb 3. In addition to the racist derogatory reference to China as “the sick man of Asia”, the article also shorted China’s economic outlook. Some senior US officials even claimed that the outbreak in China would help bring jobs back to the United States.

The history of human development records humanity’s constant battle with various diseases. Infectious diseases have caused numerous deaths throughout history, which is why they are so feared.

In olden days, due to backward transportation and communications, the geographical scope of infection was restricted. Yet, the Black Death or plague caused more than 25 million deaths in Europe in the 14th century, wiping out almost one-third of the European population at that time.

With the development of new means of transportation like railways and airplanes, people’s mobility increased remarkably. But while enjoying the convenience, people have had to bear the concurrent negative influences, such as the rapid spread of infectious diseases worldwide, which no country can cope with single-handedly. 

Global public health governance is required for all countries in the world to work together. 

The concept of “saving others is saving ourselves” is deeply rooted in people’s hearts, resulting in the formation of a community of shared future for public health. 

When a major natural disaster or severe epidemic hits a country, aid and help will pour in from all over the world. China, on its part, has sent medical teams to many countries with inadequate conditions to help improve those countries’ level of health. 

China’s medical teams have made outstanding contributions in the fight against Ebola in Africa, for instance. China is also an important contributor to the World Health Organization’s funding, fulfilling its responsibility as a major country for international health cooperation and the improvement of human health.

Infectious diseases are often transmitted all over the world. In many cases, it is difficult to identify the original source. Anyone, regardless of race, may fall victim to the infection. Therefore, it is not fair to equate any infectious disease with a specific country or race. 

Any attempt to name the naturally occurring viruses after the name of a country or city will only encounter protest. The Ebola virus was not called the “African virus”. The flu that infected tens of millions of people in the US, killing tens of thousands, was not called the “American flu”. Nor has any foreign government or media called the US the “sick man of the Americas” because of it, let alone blamed the US political system for its occurrence. 

Linking a virus with a specific country or city, or attacking the country that is combating the epidemic, not only showcases ignorance about the disease but also racial discrimination and a denial of epidemic control efforts by the country in question. It undermines the cooperative efforts of the international community to fight infectious diseases. People holding such negative views are the ones who are really “sick”.

The Chinese government and people do not need to overly worry about those individuals or views attacking China, nor should they be distracted by them. As the proverb goes, there are all kinds of fish in the sea — there are a handful of people with extreme ideologies in each and every country, vicious and arrogant. But such people and views can never become the mainstream of any country or society. 

We can see that although The Wall Street Journal published such an insulting article, more US-funded enterprises and US private charities provided China with a large amount of aid for epidemic prevention as quickly as they possibly could, and many US citizens have expressed their sympathy and support for China. 

More than 20 countries, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore and Pakistan, have provided emergency materials to aid China. 

In Sri Lanka, the country’s prime minister led the whole island in prayer to invoke blessings for China, and cabinet ministers joined in the donations. The Union of the Comoros, a tiny African country, gave China a gift of 100 euros ($108). It may not seem like much, but it means a lot. 

The governments of many countries and the World Health Organization have highly recognized the measures taken by the Chinese government to respond to the outbreak, and acknowledged the sacrifices and contributions made by China to prevent the epidemic from spreading globally. In the battle against the novel coronavirus, China is not alone.

The author is an adjunct senior fellow of the Academy of Regional and Global Governance at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.