The fight against corona: a contest between systems?

While the corona pandemic is rapidly spreading in Europe and the US, the Chinese leadership appears to have the virus under control in the country thanks to drastic measures. China's economy has suffered substantial losses but the country is now presenting itself as an adviser and even donating medical equipment to Europe. Commentators examine the long-term political ramifications.

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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.”