Coronavirus crisis: learn from China?

As the coronavirus spreads from Wuhan to the rest of the world, China's goverment claims its drastic measures have brought it under control there. Businesses in the affected areas are now opening once more and Beijing is presenting itself as an expert advisor and sending medical supplies to other parts of the world. Politicians and the press debate whether China can serve as a role model for Europe.

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Kurier (AT) /

Cover-ups thrive without democracy

Der Kurier criticises the way some commentators are now looking admiringly to the Far East:

“No, China is not the hero of the crisis. This must also be stressed in the debate that is now increasingly taking place in enlightened systems: how far can or should democracy be curtailed when people's wellbeing is at stake? This is a dangerous question. ... Tough measures against the spread of the virus: yes. Temporary repeal of individual fundamental rights: yes – but all according to the rules of democracy. ... The example of China also teaches us that leaders who are not subject to democratic controls too easily succumb to the temptation to cover up things that don't fit into their brave-new-world concept (for as long as they can). Now the whole world is suffering as a result.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Time to radically rethink relations with Beijing

There must be serious consequences for what The Daily Telegraph sees as Beijing's shameful behaviour in the crisis:

“The reopening of live animal markets, where bats and scorpions are offered as traditional medicine, suggests China's rulers have no intention of fulfilling their pledge to close the markets, which is where the virus is believed to have originated. At every level, the CCP's response to the coronavirus challenge has been contemptible, to the extent that, once the present crisis is over, there needs to be a radical rethink in Britain and other Western countries about our future dealings with Beijing.”

Global Times (CN) /

Shameful behaviour in the West

The English-language Chinese daily Global Times rejects the accusations against Beijing:

“Some officials in the West tried to make China a scapegoat of their incompetence. ... Those politicians care only about their personal political interests and are not capable of leading a battle against the coronavirus. ... Accusing China of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic runs counter to common sense. As early as at the start of January, China had notified the WHO and relevant countries of the epidemic. ... Then China locked down Wuhan on January 23. ... Politicians in the US, UK and other countries looked at China with indifference and were busy taking pleasure from China's misfortune. They remained blindly optimistic even when South Korea, Italy and Iran entered perilous situations. Their performance at that time was really shameful.”

hvg (HU) /

Europe needs to clean up its own act

Instead of pointing an accusing finger at China, Europe's societies should reflect on the fact that here too, there is little sign of a democratic contest between political ideas in the crisis, the weekly hvg warns:

“It would seem that everything that was specific to the democratic decision-making of pluralist societies has dissolved into thin air. ... In the months and years to come Europe will have to pay for the damage caused by its failure to take account of the various aspects [of the Corona crisis] and its lack of a long-term approach. One can only guess why this happened: perhaps because the first pictures of the fight against the unknown virus came from China. ... We didn't just get the virus, but also our strategy for combating it from a dictatorship.”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

China thinks it has all the answers now

Beijing will now take the opportunity to propagate its ideology and social model as exemplary, the state news agency Ria Novosti suspects:

“As far as coronavirus is concerned China is now the safest place in the world, and not those countries where it supposedly hasn't appeared. Because the Chinese have learned to diagnose it correctly, to stop its spread and to treat it. The whole world knows that. This is how China has come to be in the unique position of a country that is able and willing to help all those who ask for help. ... China will benefit from its successful fight against the epidemic in the long term. And people there are well aware of this - which is why they're using it to come up with universally applicable formulas. ... For example: Which political system is better in crisis situations, the Chinese or the West's? The answer is obvious.”

Karar (TR) /

Capitalism devouring its children

The varying degrees of success states are having in containing the corona pandemic make Karar wonder:

“Why is China is so outstanding in this fight? How has South Korea managed to reverse the epidemic all of a sudden? We are dealing here with a difference in society's attitude to money and services - which naturally also applies to the state leadership. ... You can get tested there, and for free. What is the situation here and in many other rich countries? Why are the rich countries of the West incurring so much damage? Because they impose capitalism so brutally? Or because they put the interests of capital above the interests of the citizens? Whatever the reason, today we are seeing a system that is devouring itself.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Authoritarianism will gain new adherents

The West will face another battering after the 2008 financial crisis, the Financial Times predicts:

“The belief that China is on the rise and the West is in inexorable decline will gain new adherents. And arguments for authoritarianism and against democracy will be made with increased boldness - in both China and the West. ... At the moment, it feels as if China is past the worst - while the outbreak in the West is only just beginning. The last global crisis - the financial meltdown of 2008 - triggered a loss of Western self-confidence and a shift in political and economic power towards China. The coronavirus crisis of 2020 could force a much bigger shift in the same direction.”

Onet.pl (PL) /

Democracy's reputation is at stake

Onet.pl sees liberal societies in danger:

“Some people already have the impression that democracies are unable to guarantee dynamic economic development and curb the growing drastic social inequalities. If it turns out that they are less effective than authoritarian countries in a situation where the lives and health of citizens are at stake, their reputation will inevitably suffer. ... If they want to survive, Europe's liberal democracies will have to redouble their strength and determination. Politicians need to learn to lead, not to follow the crowd.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Beijing being astonishingly brazen

Lidové noviny finds China's self-congratulatory attitude hard to bear:

“Anyone who spoke of a dangerous disease in China [shortly after it first appeared] got in trouble with the police. The health system was unprepared, which contributed to the spread of the virus. It's also unclear how long the ruling Communist Party will actually be able to keep the epidemic under control. Painting a rosy picture of the situation could lead to a new outbreak. China is being impudent when it brags about how its own experiences are now helping the whole world. After all, Beijing created the problem in the first place and then exported it all over the globe.”