China will not tolerate newly emerged infection chains, because that will only lead to disaster and bring the situation out of control. Writes Hu Xijin
Recently, there have been discussions about whether China should learn to live with the novel coronavirus. In my opinion, such a debate has no meaning now or in the near future. China is unlikely to abandon its dynamic approach of vigorously clearing new COVID-19 cases and embrace the loose approach used in the West to achieve “herd immunity.”
It is understandable that some scholars advocate coexistence with the virus. But they didn’t mean relaxing the current anti-epidemic prevention and control measures. Instead, they wanted to warn us that we need to come up with a more precise strategy to lower the cost of the dynamic zero-case route, as it is currently impossible to get rid of the virus completely. I don’t feel that this is really a serious divergence with the anti-epidemic approach in Chinese society.
To this day, China’s strategy toward COVID-19 has been proven to be the most effective, and one that comes with the least humanitarian and social cost in the world. China will not give up this approach, for the following reasons.
First, the epidemic is still wreaking havoc in the West and some developing countries. There was no resurgence in the UK after the country’s opening-up. However, it is still too early to come to any conclusion, as the UK could still face more challenges. What is more shocking is the swiftly rising number of COVID-19 cases across the US. In other words, herd immunity is not a positive experience, at least not yet, and the World Health Organization has not approved such an approach.
Second, the route that China is taking against the epidemic has brought better economic development. The approach the US and Europe adopted has not only caused more loss of life, but also demonstrated a lack of economic competitiveness. This can’t appeal to China unless it can bring higher economic growth, not to mention the humanitarian factor involved.
Third, in the long term, the West’s barbaric route of disregarding human lives will eventually compete with China’s dynamic approach of clearing COVID-19 cases, and economic growth will be the peak of the competition between the two routes. China does face the pressure of having to continuously improve the precision of prevention and control. The economy in the West was on a rollercoaster ride last year due to COVID-19. And even though there is a resurgence of the pandemic now, vaccines have lowered the death rate in the West and helped its economy come back on track. As a result, China needs to seriously compete with Western countries in terms of the degree of its economic recovery.
Therefore, I must say that China’s anti-virus path is very successful, but we cannot live with such success forever. We must have the urgency to strengthen prevention and control measures. When the virus hits a certain place, we must assess the situation in a highly scientific way to decide if a complete or partial lockdown should be implemented. Any large-scale lockdown must be done in a short period of time. More importantly, each place should detect the epidemic more quickly, cut the infection chain more effectively, and reduce the social cost of wiping it out. Nationwide vaccination is a basic requirement. It can play an invisible role in controlling the intensity of each new wave of the epidemic.
I think China’s anti-virus path is improving, but the latest round of infections that started from Nanjing has exposed some shortcomings. Obviously, there is room for improvement in our scientific prevention and control, and this is something we must do.
China will not tolerate newly emerged infection chains, because that will only lead to disaster and bring the situation out of control. The public will not accept the change for worse, and it is not politically feasible. Therefore, we must give up all illusions and strengthen our anti-virus efforts that have already been proven effective. As for how we should expand engagement with the outside world, decisions will be made according to the situation. The better we do today, the more initiative we will have in the future.
Hu Xijin is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.
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