World Asia 27 Feb 2020 Overcoming prejudice ...

Overcoming prejudice and contempt with global humanitarianism

Published Feb 27, 2020, 2:31 pm IST
Updated Feb 27, 2020, 2:31 pm IST
More than 20 countries have provided emergency materials to help China, including Japan, South Korea, India, Russia, Singapore and Pakistan
Photo shows workers producing protective suits at a factory in Yangzhou in Chinas eastern Jiangsu province. AFP
 Photo shows workers producing protective suits at a factory in Yangzhou in Chinas eastern Jiangsu province. AFP

China is under attack from the Novel Pneumonia Coronavirus (NCP). As this epidemic is being battled by the Chinese government and people, the governments and people around the world have expressed sympathy and support for China. Several countries have offered assistance by supplying a large number of disease prevention materials.

Recently, the Indian Ambassador to China, Mr Vikram Misri, expressed goodwill and support towards the Chinese people from the Indian people and government. He said the whole world has seen the Chinese people and government's commitment to fighting the epidemic and it will end soon.


The Novel Pneumonia Coronavirus (NCP) has attacked China. While the battle to fight the epidemic continues, the governments and people around the world have expressed sympathy and support for the Chinese government and people.

While we see international solidarity, in some countries some individuals maliciously referred to the virus on social media as "Wuhan virus" and "China virus."

A mainstream American media outlet, published an article titled "China is Asia's Real Sick Man" earlier this month. Apart from the dismissive reference to China as "Asia's sick man," the article is also taking a dig on China's economic outlook. Many top U.S. officials have even suggested that China's epidemic would help bring jobs back to America.

Human development history is a history of constant struggle with diverse diseases. Historically, infectious diseases caused massive human death. In ancient society, people moved around in a limited area due to less advanced transportation and communication, thus limiting the geographical scope of infection.

For example, the Black Death that took place in fourteenth-century Europe caused more than 25 million deaths, wiping out nearly a third of the European population at the time. When that happened, Asia, Africa, and the Americas outside Europe, let alone being infected, didn't even know there had ever been such a severe epidemic.

The global mobility of humans comes with the development of science and technology, as well as modern means of transportation such as steam engines. In particular, the invention of aeroplanes allowed people to travel within half a day from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western Hemisphere, and from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere.

Citizens have had to endure the accompanying negative influences when enjoying the luxury, such as the rapid spread of infectious diseases worldwide, which no country can cope with on its own. The idea of "saving others is protecting ourselves," is deeply rooted in the hearts of people, leading to the formation in public health of a culture of mutual destiny.

If a country is hit by a major natural disaster or serious disease, aid and resources can pour in from around the world. In history, China has sent medical teams in inadequate medical conditions to many countries to help them improve their health status.

China's medical team has made remarkable contributions to the African battle against Ebola. China is also a major contributor to financing the WHO, performing its obligations as a major country for international health collaboration and progress in human health.

Infectious diseases are spread regularly around the world. In many instances the original source is hard to identify. Everyone, whatever their race, can fall victim to the infection. Hence, it is not appropriate to associate any infectious disease with a particular country or race. Any attempt to name the naturally occurring viruses after a country or city name will only come up against protest.

The "Saharan virus" was not named the Ebola virus. Neither was the flu that infected hundreds of millions of Americans and killed tens of thousands of them called the "American flu." Nor has any foreign government or media named the "sick man" of the United States, let alone blaming the American political system for its happening.

Linking a virus to a specific country or city, or attacking the country fighting the epidemic, is not only a showcase of ignorance about the disease that only brings shame to the human civilization, but is also racist discrimination and denial of the country's epidemic control efforts. This undermines international community co-operation in combating infectious diseases. Those who do these acts are the true "sick-minded people."

The article published in the American newspaper described China as Asia's real sick guy, not only condemned by the Chinese government and people but also widely opposed and denounced by people with a worldwide conscience, including the US.

The article was criticized by Catherine Ceniza Choy, professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who said, "This is extremely harmful and wrong" on February 8, arguing that the consequences of publishing such an opinion include fueling more fear and anxiety and increasing hostility against Chinese and other Asians worldwide.

More than 1,00,000 signed petitions against the newspaper have been received on the White House website.

The Chinese government and people need not be overly concerned about those individuals or views that attack China nor should they be distracted. As the proverb goes, all kinds of fish are in the sea, there are a handful of people in each and every country with extreme ideologies, vicious and arrogant people.

But such individuals and views can never become the mainstream of any nation or culture. We can see that while the media house published an offensive article by the author, more American-funded corporations and American private charities provided China with a huge amount of aid for disease prevention as quickly as they could possibly, and many Americans expressed sympathy and support for China; More than 20 countries have provided emergency materials to help China, including Japan, South Korea, India, Russia, Singapore and Pakistan.

The Prime Minister in Sri Lanka led the entire island's prayer to invoke blessings for China and the cabinet ministers joined in the donation. The Union of Comoros, a tiny, least developed African nation, has given China a symbolic gift of € 100. It's not very much, but it does mean a lot.

Governments in many countries and the WHO have highly appreciated the Chinese government's response to the outbreak, and have acknowledged China's efforts and contributions to preventing the disease from spreading globally. China isn't alone in the fight against the disease.

  By Long Xingchun

The author is Professor at the School of Foreign Languages of China West Normal University (CWNU)