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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

COVID, DEATHS AND DEMOCRACY #356

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

GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

According to the John Hopkins University in Baltimore,  the cumulative global total of Covid deaths has reached 414.9m, and the worldwide death toll has reached 5.8m.

Countries and governments have been wrestling with different policies to address the problem. And this has prompted discussions about freedom and restraint. When a country is afflicted with an epidemic where does the balance lie between collective responsibility and individual choice. And here China and the US/UK have different experiences.

At the end of January 2020, China went into lockdown. It reached into every village, county, city and province. Instructions were clear. Off the streets, stay at home, stay masked, be vigilant. Individual freedoms were curbed and the Nation’s health was the priority.

The response of the US and UK was similar – their governments vacillated. Trump was in Election year and Johnson was influenced by voter’s reactions. Both were indecisive. In this respect, the number of deaths is relevant – after all the first duty of any Government is to protect its people. The US and UK with a combined population of approximately 470m have suffered 1m deaths. China with a population of 1.4bn has suffered 4,700 deaths.

The figures have prompted discussion about freedom. The Chinese protected their people by resolute action. People on the streets without reason were arrested. The US/UK prevaricated as their leaders set bad examples of personal responsibility and breaches of restrictions were numerous and sanctions quite light.

So what price freedom? China is an authoritarian government and acted decisively and kept deaths to a low figure. The US/UK are democratic governments and acted indecisively and allowed deaths to leap out of control. Has China’s small number of deaths been achieved by unfair restraint on their people. Has the freedom of the US/UK people been protected by 1m deaths?

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