OPINIONS US needs to understand cooperation, not xenophobia, is the right way forward


US needs to understand cooperation, not xenophobia, is the right way forward

Global Times

05:12, March 22, 2020


People buy water, food and toilet paper at a store in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, as they have begun stockpiling essentials amid fears of dwindling supplies during the COVID-19. (Photo: AFP)

Amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, some in the West are groundlessly blaming the Chinese people in their countries for triggering a dearth of masks and emergency supplies, as they believe this is due to the Chinese hoarding face masks.

Such unsubstantiated stance resonates with the views of US President Donald Trump's "Chinese virus" slur, an attempted cover-up for the Westerners' lack of awareness and their respective governments' incompetency in mitigating the risks of the pandemic.

When the COVID-19 outbreak befell in China in January, Chinese people in the country and overseas immediately anticipated the severity of the virus. They knew face masks can effectively protect themselves from the risks of contracting the infection.

Chinese people were buying face masks to preempt the risks of the outbreak, a justified and wise move well validated by facts. Currently, the domestic cases of COVID-19 in the Chinese mainland are broadly under control, thanks to the awareness manifested by the Chinese people by wearing masks and their social distancing efforts.

Blaming Chinese people for hoarding face masks reflects the double standard of some Western countries, especially the US.

If the COVID-19 had first befallen in the US, wouldn't American people - if they believe face masks really help - buy face masks to protect themselves? This is something worth introspecting.

Now, as the virus continues spreading viciously in the US, Americans are also hoarding supplies - they are hoarding toilet paper rolls and even tussling over it. Thus, going by the aforementioned Western attitude, should the Chinese people in the US also blame them for hoarding toilet paper?

China has earned a valuable window period of nearly 50 days for the rest of the world. However, what has the US done in the period? It has been busy discussing China's "authoritarianism" and how Wuhan's lockdown violated human rights, completely squandering the time China bought the world.

China did in fact experience a shortage of masks at the onset of this deadly outbreak, but the US government neither helped China, as many other countries did, nor did it even raise vigilance or increase the US mask supplies.

As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying rightly noted: "We haven't received $1 from the US government."

Besides, several experts in the US are calling on healthy people to refrain from wearing face masks. The US' lack of sufficient face masks reverberates in the so-called experts' ignorance.

If all American people believe face masks can effectively prevent the COVID-19 but the country cannot drum up workers to produce enough masks, it might trigger large-scale panic. This being the case, it is ridiculous to pass the buck to the Chinese people.

Anyone with a little common sense understands the epidemic is a problem faced by all mankind. When the COVID-19 outbreak engulfed China, it was pertinent for countries to have exercised maximum vigilance.

However, the US administration has been trapped in ideological warfare and the preparations for the upcoming 2020 presidential election, which eventually led to the current crisis in the country.

Paul Krugman, an opinion columnist at The New York Times, unequivocally used the word "Trump pandemic" in his article published Thursday.

Those blaming Chinese people should take note that China had already begun to recommence the production of face masks at the onset of the outbreak. Some automobile industries also joined in to produce masks, thus soon meeting China's huge domestic demand for masks.

As the epidemic situation in China improved, China is providing face masks to other countries. For example, China sent 1 million European standard medical protective masks to Italy on Saturday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Friday announced assistance to 82 countries, and face masks are indispensable medical material.

Chinese people are also donating through non-official channels. Alibaba founder Jack Ma took to Twitter on Monday to announce the donation of masks and testing kits to the US. "All the best to our friends in America," he tweeted.

Cooperation is the right attitude to curb the COVID-19, not hyping racism. Saying that Chinese people have snatched all the face masks and using the term "Chinese virus" are both hyping racism, which has already become a serious problem in the West.

Many Chinese people in the US and other Western countries are fazed by the idea of wearing face masks outdoors, because some foreigners, who were still savoring parties and reveling in the "living for the moment" attitude in mid-March, believe whoever wears face masks is infected.

This, not Wuhan lockdown, is the real violation of human rights.

It's high time for Westerners to cease the blame game. In the era of globalization, no country can survive all on its own. Chinese people have made great efforts and substantial contribution to curb the spread of the COVID-19. They should not be bullied and stigmatized.

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