Laurence Brahm: Sharing science, not political bashing, needed to fight COVID-19

March 20 , 2020

By Laurence Brahm, a senior international research fellow at CCG

The coronavirus crisis is a worldwide pandemic requiring collaboration across nations regardless of ideology, political system or religiosity. This is the time for global unity against a pandemic attack, no different than if all the nations of the world had to unite to fight an attack from outer space aliens. As science fiction as it sounds, the coronavirus global pandemic is something right out of science fiction and needs to be met head on with global cooperation, the sharing of information, science and experience to fight a common enemy. This is not the time to be fighting among ourselves.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. As the coronavirus erupted in China mid-winter, the Wall Street Journal wrote this headline on February 2, 2020, “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia.” This is a 19th century insult to China adopted during the Opium Wars, when a consortium of Western nations became the biggest drug dealers in world history forcing their drugs on China through gunboat diplomacy. In Bruce Lee’s classic movie Fist of Fury he takes down a sheet of paper with these words written by colonialist occupiers in China, and makes them kneel down and eat their own words. Maybe it is time for some others to eat their words as well.

By any standard of any nation this kind of “journalistic” bashing represents a flagrant insult not only to China, but also to humanity as a whole now battling this coronavirus together. It also exposes a deep undercurrent of colonial, racist mentality that has not been successfully erased by two world wars and years of worldwide equal rights and social consciousness movements. The fact that a Manifest Destiny religiosity and racist prerogative still exists at the highest echelons of American elite, is frightening at a time when everyone needs to work together and overcome, social, racial and national prejudices. We are facing new unprecedented medical challenges and questions that science is grappling and coming to terms with against a race for time. We need rational unbiased and immediate information, shared among us equally. This is the role that all global media must step up to.

China has been on the front line battling coronavirus spread for the interest of not only its own people, but to prevent the spread globally. As of today, China has no new cases of coronavirus, except those that have been imported from Europe and the United States by travelers or returnees. That means currently China has the most accumulated practical experience in battling, containing and controlling the spread of coronavirus. Rather than belittling China in the politicized Western media, it is time to de-politicize and try to report what has been done in China to beat coronavirus and see how these experiences can extrapolated and scientifically adapted to the reality and conditions in other countries as appropriate to their own social constructs and resource capabilities.

The most recent act of politicizing the coronavirus occurred when Trump repeatedly labeled it the “China Virus.” While the coronavirus spread in China, there is scientific research taking place now to understand the actual origin of the virus, which may have been somewhere else. China’s Foreign Ministry and ambassador to the United States have both refuted a spectrum of conspiracy speculations to simply state that deciphering of the coronavirus origin must be left to the scientific community to use science to determine. Nevertheless, this has not stopped Trump’s labeling.

WHO has stated affirmatively that the labeling of any epidemic in association with any nation or being is unscientific, irrational and unconscious able. Well, from observing the Trump administration on issues such a global warming, climate change and the rise of global natural disasters, we can ascertain one thing for sure. Trump and his administration do not believe in science.

This coronavirus crisis is not about politics. It is not about science fiction. It’s about hard science. It is time for all nations and international media to de-politicize issues around coronavirus, open up and share information and practical experience. Coronavirus knows no borders, nations, political parties, or religious communities. It is a threat to us all and we need to band together as humanity in the interest of humanity and fight this together as if it was an alien invasion threatening the lives of everyone on this planet.

Laurence Brahm, a senior international research fellow at Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and founding director of the Himalayan Consensus, an author of Zhu Rongji and the Transformation of Modern China.

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