Beijing’s Strong Presence and Desire To Cooperate Create a Dual Advantage in Fighting Coronavirus
Jan. 30, 2020 (EIRNS)—While fake news and China-bashing are filling the media on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic in China, former Italian government official and China expert Michele Geraci has given a sober and objective evaluation on how Beijing authorities are tackling the crisis. In an interview published Jan. 25 by Agenzia Italia, Geraci said that the Chinese government has taken “important and bold measures” against the epidemic.
On Monday, Feb. 3, when millions of Chinese will return to the cities after the New Year holiday, and go back to work, it “will be a decisive stress-test: if the number of patients does not increase despite the large flow, then it can be said that the virus has been contained.”
“A few days ago” Chinese authorities
“reopened factories that make medical masks, which had closed for New Year festivities, recalled workers from holidays, incentivizing them with quadruple pay to resume production, because the supply of masks had been exhausted. It is an example of mixed statist and market economy: the government provided the input, the companies responded, the workers got the money.”
With some sarcasm, Geraci observed of the new hospital being built in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, in record time: “A day to design it, a week to complete it. By Saturday [Feb. 1] next week, the hospital with 1,000 beds will be ready. Then I think of the earthquake victims in Umbria who are still waiting...” since 2016 for new homes.
“The fact that the first outbreaks of the virus occurred soon after the ‘Two Sessions,’ the double yearly conference of party leaders, maybe—I stress maybe—did not help timely communication. I do not think that any silence was imposed from the top, but rather, if there were any mistakes, it was by those at the lower levels of the hierarchy.”
“has learned the lessons from SARS, and it cannot afford errors today because it is not backed by the same economic growth as in 2003. The economy is continuing to grow but at a lower rate, and they cannot make mistakes in the social pact between party and population.
“The authorities are doing what they can reasonably do: On one side, they are concerned with the health of the people, and on the other side the feedback is domestically positive. Let’s say if they had elections, they would win them. China is also interested in showing internationally that they have become a major player, that they solve problems and do not create them. Therefore, the strong presence of the government and the desire to cooperate create a double advantage both domestically and internationally.
“That said, not to be cynical, it should be clear that the reaction of the Chinese government is proving to be a strong, important and I hope, decisive one. Let me restate: They have isolated 30 million people, blocked transportation and much more, without the taking the time for a bidding process.”