Political systems mean nothing in battling virus pandemic

By Shi Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/1 20:58:41

Medical workers look out of the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Having infected more than 862,000 people worldwide and killed over 42,400 as of the press time, the deadly novel coronavirus has seemingly declared war on humanity. To win this likely arduous struggle, all people, regardless of nationality, race or belief, must stand in the same camp and fight side by side. Provoking internal conflicts in this critical "wartime" is no different from surrendering to the virus.

As the country bore before others the brunt of the attack, China has done its best to minimize casualties and has shown maximum solidarity with all its "comrades-in-arms." For some Western countries witnessing more COVID-19 victims than China, the Chinese government and people have expressed sympathy and offered substantial help. China has also not forgotten countries with relatively weak medical systems, such as African countries, Iran and Pakistan, by providing them with medical supplies and anti-epidemic experience.

However, some in the West have been trying hard to draw a line between "democratic" and "autocratic" countries, putting horrible labels on China and refusing to fight alongside the country. 

Since the virus began ravaging China, they have been pointing an accusing finger at the country's stringent measures, claiming the "authoritarian" state was "violating human rights," in an attempt to prove the superiority of their "liberty" and "democracy." In recent days, new rhetoric has been rising, such as allegations of China withholding real data, and suggesting the "lack of transparency" is an inherent defect of "autocracy."

It appears that such smears against China and comparing the two systems concern these people more than their citizens' lives. In some severely affected countries and regions, the coronavirus is killing people at a rate of one every few minutes. In New York City, the rate was one death every 17 minutes on March 26 and 27. And a New York Times reporter tweeted Tuesday that "Half of the coronavirus tests processed last night in New York came back positive." Witnessing so many lives being threatened and taken away by the deadly virus, is it too cold-blooded for these people to still pin their focus on these pale and meaningless issues? Would such accusations and comparisons help save people's lives?

The cruel reality should have sobered them up. The pandemic is not and will not be an arena of different political systems. As tens of thousands of lives are being threatened by the disease, there is no point in discussing the merits and demerits of the two systems and putting political labels on measures adopted by different countries. Any measure, be it "democratic" or "autocratic," is worth trying as long as it can save people's lives. No system would be a "winner" if the virus continues to wreak havoc.

"When the pandemic subsides, I suspect that we will have to discard simple dichotomies. The major dividing line in effective crisis response will not place autocracies on one side and democracies on the other," said Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man, in an article for The Atlantic on Monday. Perhaps the "simple dichotomies" should be immediately discarded from now on. In this global war waged by the deadly virus, combating the pandemic is the only priority. It is no time to play the distinction-drawing game.



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