- China begins helping with the coronavirus
The arrival of much-needed medical equipment, including face masks, protective clothing, testing kits, ventilators and forehead thermometers, from China, donated by Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation, in Pakistan, indicates how firmly the Chinese people stand with the Pakistani in the common struggle against the coronavirus. It also indicates that the onslaught of the coronavirus has been checked in China, where it all started, and now efforts are being turned towards the struggles of other countries with the epidemic. The donation is the first of a series that will see the two Foundations send protective suits, ventilators and thermometers to such Asian countries as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. While the onslaught has been checked in China by the stringent lockdown launched on the authorities, it is far from over. It had had over 81,000 cases up to Thursday morning, and even though 74,000 had recovered (and nearly 3300 had died) almost 4000 were still active. Pakistan has diagnosed 1106 cases by the same time, and just over 1000 active cases.
One worrying suspicion is that there are a huge number of undetected cases, and the testing kits from China are particularly welcome, for they will be the sole means of determining whether the epidemic is spreading, and in which direction. The Pakistani authorities might have had their morale raised by this donation, but they should also recognize that Pakistan’s travails are just beginning, and China is helping not just because the two countries share an all-weather friendship, but because it has gone through a harrowing experience itself.
It should be a lesson to everyone that Pakistan’s real friends are those who prove of use in this hour of need. While Pakistan is actively seeking debt relief, and the international lending institutions seem to be giving some relief, it should not be forgotten that the lending institutions will probably herd indebted countries and make them do the bidding of the powers that established them. China, on the other hand, has never tried to impose its system or its policies on Pakistan, even though its cooperation with it has been perceptive of Pakistan’s needs.