BienDong.Net

Past Pandemics Exposed China’s Weaknesses

PandemicWhen the novel coronavirus first emerged in China’s Hubei Province, foreign reactions to the country’s handling of the epidemic swung between extremes. At a press conference held in Beijing in late February, Bruce Aylward, who co-led the World Health Organization’s (WHO) joint mission with China on the disease now known as COVID-19, praised what he described as “probably the most ambitious, and I would say, agile and aggressive disease-containment effort in history.” Pointing to a graph that showed a steep decline in cases, he commented, “If I had COVID-19, I’d want to be treated in China.”

Others have been far more critical. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia,” Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College, suggested that China’s “less than impressive” management of the crisis would reinforce “a trend for global companies to ‘de-Sinicize’ their supply chains.” The use of the term “sick man of Asia” in the headline caused particular umbrage and provided a pretext for the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters from China. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang condemned the use of “racially discriminatory language,” to which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded with a defense of the free press.

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