The world takes cognizance of COVID-19 - Pakistan Today

The world takes cognizance of COVID-19

  • The world reacts to the coronavirus

Coronavirus, the deadly epidemic, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially named COVID-19, where “co” stands for “corona”, “vi” for “virus” and “d” for “disease”, and “19” for the year, as the outbreak was first identified on December 31, has caught the attention of the world. Other countries, including the USA, and international organizations have expressed support for China’s battle against the novel coronavirus outbreak and commended China’s measures in preventing and controlling the epidemic.

More leaders of foreign countries and international organizations have extended solidarity to China in its hour of need. During his visit to the Chinese Embassy in Cuba on Friday, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel voiced confidence in China’s fight against the novel coronavirus. Facing the complicated and challenging situation, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese government took decisive measures to contain the spread of the epidemic, and made good progress in defeating the novel coronavirus, Diaz-Canel said, expressing his appreciation to the CPC and the Chinese government for their contributions.

Diaz-Canel said he firmly believes that under the leadership of the CPC, China will eventually win the battle against the epidemic, reaffirming that Cuba will do everything in its capacity to support China in fighting against the virus.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella hosted an extraordinary concert last week, showing solidarity with the Chinese people dealing with the coronavirus emergency. “This concert highlights the relevance our country attaches to the Italy-China year of culture and tourism 2020, and it represents a sign of friendship from the Italian people to the Chinese people,” Mattarella stated in an interview to the media before the concert.

Pakistan’s National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with the government and people of China for dedicated efforts and efficient policy to combat coronavirus.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima said in a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping that they are closely watching the epidemic situation. They expressed hope that the Chinese government and people could win this war with great strength and courage, adding that the Netherlands will stand firm with China to fight the epidemic. The Dutch government has provided €1 million ($1.1 million) to the WHO and will continue to work with China and the WHO to fight the epidemic.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states voiced support for China to fight against the virus and spoke highly of the decisive measures taken by the Chinese government and people to fight the epidemic and prevent its spread.

As of February 14, altogether 33 foreign governments and 4 international organizations have provided China with medical supplies, and a total of 17 foreign governments and 1 international organization announced that they will offer medical supplies to China.

US Congress held a hearing on the coronavirus outbreak last week. There were three experts attending the hearing. One of them was Jennifer Huang Bouey, a senior policy researcher of RAND Corporation and a research fellow of the Tang Chair in China Policy Studies. She criticized the discrimination against China and presented Congress a plan how the US government should work with its Chinese counterpart on the virus.

While China struggled to come to grips with the national calamity, some of China’s detractors took the opportunity to feed grist to the mill with rumours. Some suggested that it was a bio-chemical weapon being developed by China which had gone awry. Yet others opined that in line with sci-fi movies, it was a biological weapon released by the USA as punitive action against China. It is heartening that the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 in China was discussed threadbare in the US Congress to put the rumour mill to rest and express solidarity with China as well as stop discrimination against Chinese Americans.

Unfortunately, many international players do not share commonality, and either out of ignorance or prejudice, they ostracize China during its period of trial and tribulation. To quote The Herald Tribune’s story, ‘China’s double whammy: Coronavirus and toxic racism.’ Several countries have evacuated their citizens, suspended trade, cancelled import orders, closed borders, halted flight operations to China, and even pulled out of international events where East Asians were invited. The fears set off a global frenzy, exacerbated by some Western media outlets with their sensationalism and disinformation, resurrecting dormant fears of racism, xenophobia, and even Sinophobia [fear of Chinese people]. Video clips popped up and immediately went viral on social media after the viral outbreak.

It commended the efforts of Chinese government under the able leadership of President Xi Jinping for treating Pakistani citizens especially students in Wuhan city just like their own by providing them the best possible care. The resolution appreciated the way in which China is dealing with the extremely tense situation to combat and fully eliminate this virus. It said Pakistan stands united with China and extends its full support in this difficult time and moment of medical emergency

Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine flashed on its cover a man in red hoody, goggles and a protective mask, with the headline “Coronavirus made in China”. And Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (notorious for the caricatures published against Prophet Mohammed [PBUH]) carried a cartoon of China’s national flag with the five yellow stars replaced by coronavirus pictograms. Above all, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed, “Sick Man of Asia”, resurrecting a late 20th century racist tag for China. To rub salt in the wound, French daily Le Courrier Picard published a print headline, ‘Yellow alert’ and an online version, ‘New yellow peril?’, both featuring an Asian-looking woman’s photo with her mouth covered with a surgical mask. The ‘Yellow Peril’ slur was used in the late 19th century-Europe and America for Chinese immigrants who were considered as insidious threats to white morality.

At a time like this, the media is supposed to sensitize people, educate them, dispel fears, but these outlets [some of which have since apologized] apparently sensationalized the tragedy with their wrong editorial calls and insensitive choice of words which could only fuel racial stereotyping and anti-China sentiments. And this didn’t go unnoticed. “These media outfits … should be aware that their racism and xenophobia hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, at a critical time when they are racing against time to fight the disease and save lives,” wrote the state-run Xinhua news agency in a news commentary. And a Chinese TV anchor, Liu Xin, lamented the negative press China has received over the challenge. “China is not only battling the virus but a wave of deeply repugnant and often racist-laden attacks,” she said in a live commentary on China Global Television Network (CGTN).

Pakistan’s National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with the government and people of China for dedicated efforts and efficient policy to combat coronavirus.

It commended the efforts of Chinese government under the able leadership of President Xi Jinping for treating Pakistani citizens especially students in Wuhan city just like their own by providing them the best possible care. The resolution appreciated the way in which China is dealing with the extremely tense situation to combat and fully eliminate this virus. It said Pakistan stands united with China and extends its full support in this difficult time and moment of medical emergency.

Sultan M Hali

The author is a retired Group Captain and author of the book Defence & Diplomacy. Currently he is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host.



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