Blame Game Hampers anti-Pandemic Cooperation

By Wang Zhijian

 

As Covid-19 further grips the US, some US officials have been trying to find a scapegoat, claiming China should be blamed for the spread of the coronavirus in their country. They even used the term of “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” in contravention of the advice from the World Health Organization. At this crucial stage, it is harmful to pack the media landscape with negative politicized messages, and blaming others could not take accountability off one’s shoulder.

The virus knows no border and we need cooperation and multilateralism instead of vicious competition and recriminations in face of the common challenge for mankind. To identify the origin of the virus is the job of scientists, and not politicians. In fact, throughout history, the origins of many viruses could not be traced easily at initial phases of any outbreak, and in some cases definite conclusions may not have been reached at the end. In the era of globalization with frequent exchanges of personnel worldwide, the way how virus originates and spreads is much more complicated than ever before. Therefore, a sensible and scientific approach should be taken to trace the origin of the virus rather than making hasty or irresponsible judgments. On some occasions, the epicenter or places most severely affected may not necessarily be the actual origin of the pandemic and controversies still exist in medical circles till now. It is worth noting that the US Centers for Disease Control have admitted that some Covid-19 patients were misdiagnosed as having pandemic flu during the 2019 flu season.

Since the onset of the epidemic, the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures that China has taken against it have produced positive results. China has been open, transparent and responsible in sharing most up-to-date information, staying in close communication and carrying out cooperation with all relevant countries and international organizations. It took some time for Chinese medicine circle to identify the brand new virus. Since then China has wasted no time in releasing such information as the genetic sequence of the virus, and has also been sharing experience on the prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19 without reservation. We are providing as much support and assistance as we can to countries in need.

China’s contributions to the world endeavor in fighting against Covid-19 have been widely acknowledged. Even US President Donald Trump tweeted in January that the US greatly appreciated China’s efforts and transparency in containing the virus. In early February, Dr. Tedros, Director General of WHO, called on the international community not to waste the precious time bought by China to take precautionary actions against the spread of the virus outside of China.

The US placed the travel ban on travellers arriving and transiting from China on 2nd February, but unfortunately not many further substantial steps had been taken by the US government since then before the number of infections ticked up in the country. The window of opportunities hard won through China’s arduous efforts has regretfully not been fully utilized. Slandering or scapegoating others at this moment will not make up for the lost time.

To our relief, the consensus on collective response to Covid-19 has now created new momentum. The recent special video summit held by the G20 leaders including Chinese and US presidents has sent a message of cooperation and solidarity and injected confidence in the global anti-virus war. The G20 members, accounting for about two-thirds of the entire human population and some 86 percent of the gross world product, have pledged a commitment to “presenting a united front against this common threat” and introduced substantial measures including strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. President Xi Jinping has talked with President Trump by phone, reaffirming the importance for all countries to collaborate. Facing the storm, we are in the same boat, and blaming others is not at all helpful.

 

(Author: Wang Zhijian, Chinese Consul General in Christchurch)

 

Photo: A man rode a bike passing a hospital in New York. (Guo Ke, Xinhua)