OPINIONS Neoliberalism aids rapid spread of virus

OPINIONS

Neoliberalism aids rapid spread of virus

Global Times

14:37, March 27, 2020

The number of confirmed cases and deaths of the COVID-19 has grown exponentially in recent days, especially in the US and European countries. The neoliberalism advocated by these countries has no resistance to the pandemic. With the rising number of infections and deaths and the plummet of stock markets and oil prices, an economic crisis and global depression seems to be around the corner. The major investment banks have lowered their economic forecasts for 2020, and predict there could be a serious economic recession this year. 

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People wear face masks as they walk down a street in Flushing area of Queens on Monday in New York City. (Photo: AFP)

Neoliberalism advocates free competition in the market and opposes government intervention. The neoliberalism has led the Western world for about 20 years, and now it is in serious crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a public health crisis testing every country, it is challenging the global public health governance system. No country can survive on its own. We can avoid the negative effects of the global crisis only by actively engaging in global governance improvement. 

However, when China launched a national effort to fight the COVID-19, some people in the US and European countries attacked and demeaned China's achievements. Waving the flag of neoliberalism, these people have turned a blind eye to the loopholes in their own response to the epidemic, creating conditions for the global spread of the COVID-19. After Europe and the US were also caught in the quagmire of the COVID-19, these people tried to pass the buck to China and used the term "Chinese virus." This won't work.

Neoliberalism is also fully focused on individualism and so must deplore collectivism. In January, four US senators sold their stocks when market was at its peak, perhaps concealing advanced knowledge of the damage COVID-19 could bring to the US economy. 

Europe likewise stresses democracy and freedom, yet after the COVID-19 outbreak many Europeans have ignored their governments' emergency measures. When European governments advocated quarantine and social distancing, people still appeared on the streets under various pretexts and participated in gatherings. This has worsened Europe's epidemic situation. Neoliberalism is suffering from unprecedented internal disputes caused by the global COVID-19 crisis.

China adheres to the principle of collectivism and attaches more importance to big picture. To fight the epidemic, China has no qualms about doing the right thing for the people and suspended its economic and social activities. In China, the interests of the collective are always above those of the individuals. The COVID-19 broke out in China during Spring Festival, yet China didn't hesitate to lock down Wuhan, which prevented the coronavirus from spreading and provided valuable advanced warning to the world. Chinese people have responded positively to the government's call. By staying at home they offered their greatest support to the country.

However, the US and Europe have wasted the advanced warning and missed a series of opportunities to prevent the situation from worsening. This shows the failure of neoliberalism.

In the context of global governance, neoliberalism has become an outdated theory. In the face of the COVID-19, neoliberalism is one factor leading to the worsening global pandemic. Rather than passing the buck to China, these people should focus more on cooperation. A virus knows no borders, and the epidemic is the common enemy of humanity. The international community needs to strengthen cooperation, jointly respond to the COVID-19 and finally win the battle.

The author is a scholar at the Sichuan Police College. 

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