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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

COVID-19 and the Critics of China

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Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.

This column and website and my Linked In posts are always intended to address today’s issues. What matters are issues uppermost in the minds of China interested followers and what explanations and arguments can be made that are not seen in the traditional Western media.

Please bear in mind that the Western media are inclined against China. They commence with a prejudice – China is not democratic; China has no rule of law; China is a dictatorship; the Chinese people are oppressed. This is the familiar narrative. It continues – China has to be opposed; China has no explanation; Until China changes and becomes more like the West, the West must remain China’s implacable enemy; the West must oppose China.

This column sees things differently. China is not the UK. It has made its way to the present day via a quite different historical route and its success is down to Chinese characteristics. We should not wait for China “to become more like us” because it is not going to happen. So we have a choice – either Continue to Complain about China or Begin to Understand China.

Politicians have their own agendas and work in their own sectors. Businessman with a responsibility to grow and develop their companies have a different agenda. The former will always try to curtail China with bans and restrictions and isolation. The latter will always try to promote more links, more engagement, more business.

Those who follow China with enthusiasm always need to have their eyes wide open. They need to understand China’s policy on Hong Kong, Taiwan and the China-Indian border dispute. They need to keep abreast of China’s policy in the S China Sea and in Xingang and the Uyghurs. At the same time they need to focus on developments in China as prosperity defeats poverty, and China moves towards completing its task of building a moderately prosperous economy. 

Covid-19 remains on the agenda. It needs consideration. If, as appears likely, something went wrong in China then we need to acknowledge that. At the same time we need to guard against the attempts by some – Trump in particular – to blame “the China virus” for the considerable loss of life in the US. The US treatment of the US situation and the UK treatment of the UK situation needs to be equally examined to see whether the US/UK governments should have done more to reduce the number of deaths. Should China have protected the rest of the world and refused foreign governments the right to send in planes to collect their nationals and fly them home to Europe, the US, the rest of the world with the consequential rapid spread of the virus? Or were the Chinese correct in allowing foreign governments to make that decision? Bearing in mind the quite small loss of life in China there is a case for saying that no one should have been allowed to leave China but hindsight is always clearer.

Regardless of the blame game, we need to ensure that the post event analysis of what went wrong is fair and measured. If inflexibilities within China’s system of government contributed to the delay in alerting the world then that needs to be considered and lessons learned. At the same time we should ensure that foreign governments carry their own responsibility for the substantial loss of life outside China.

There is no absence of issues to discuss. China is that significant in this world and this column exists to facilitate sensible and informed discussion about China. For this reason I always encourage you to respond, to contribute a view, to suggest something not previously considered. 

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend

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