The anticipated agendas of the year 2020 and the "Year of the Rat" have shifted dramatically with the introduction of the novel coronavirus – first in China, but immediately after in the rest of the world in different capacities.
Doctors from Beijing's China-Japan Friendship Hospital cheer each other’s spirits before entering quarantine units for severe patients at Tongji Hospital affiliated with Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province on Feb 3. (Photo: China Daily)
Unlike similar events in the past, the influence of the current outbreak on so many parts of our lives is in part because of the modern age where connectivity, social media and interdependency are shaping our reality. The patterns of the spread of the virus, as well as the ways to combat it, are both governed by the current global environment. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, a virus we had yet to encounter before, has taken an immense toll on the Chinese people, forcing them to make heavy sacrifices and demand their extreme efforts in order to contain its spread in China and across the world.
Living in China these days and having been traveling around different continents in the last few weeks provided me with additional perspective to appreciate the efforts made by the Chinese people and the Chinese government in combating the novel coronavirus / COVID-19.
I have been asked constantly on the situation in China and the daily reality as it’s being portrayed in the last few weeks in our immediate environment in Beijing. My response usually relates to the fact that it is almost impossible to compare the situation in the time period immediately after the Spring Festival vacation and the current situation. The efforts to contain the spread of the virus and to allow the resumption of normal life are visible all around. The sacrifices made are evident to those who live in China and abroad.
Such efforts are so remarkable because they were made while requiring the individuals and societies that made them to keep on tending to those who fell ill and in some cases, while morning for the loss of many of their loved ones.
These sacrifices were aimed not only to save the people of China, but also to allow the containment of the virus in China, preventing it from spreading any further, and showing the commitment and responsibility of the Chinese government and people to the safety and health of the world. The different efforts of the Chinese government and Chinese people have been a true testament to their strength and bravery, even in the direst of times; the images and stories coming out of China display the resilience of the Chinese people, and their dedication to win this battle.
In the early stages, the government and people of Israel have shown their support and appreciation to the Chinese people and to their collective effort and determination. Later on, as the coronavirus made its way to Israeli shores, one of the tools we are having in making the most from the experience, China had already accumulated up until this point.
We all face the same challenge. The fight and hopefully upcoming triumph over novel coronavirus pneumonia is a common topic in our conversations, our thoughts and our prayers. Both China and Israel are ancient civilizations, which have endured a lot through their long histories. However, as our past teaches us and as the saying goes, "If your mind is strong, all difficult things will become easy…" – the alternative is unacceptable!
Many things might still be unclear; we face great uncertainty and danger. This may very well be a long journey from which we will return not as we were, once we started it.
The author is minister, deputy chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Beijing.