Double standard and Cold War thinking causes harm
Dipendra Adhikari and Zhang Sheng
The world is now restless and pessimistic due to the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak. Meanwhile, countless scholars in International Relations have produced a rich literature about how globalization, in the form as we know it today, will prompt countries to drop their ideological prejudice and geopolitical conflict to join hands with each other to confront the common enemy of the human beings. The cooperation between China, the largest developing country of the world, and the United States, the largest developed country of the world, is particularly attractive to supporters of globalization.
But the action of some US politicians and media in the current Coronavirus epidemic crisis is extremely disappointing and serves as a perfect example of the double standard. The right-wing stance can not only sabotage international relations but also will eventually harm the US itself.
One vividly remembers how many in the West, especially the US, were simply watching the epidemic breaking out in China with a condescending or even malicious attitude and were using the epidemic as a political weapon to attack the legitimacy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
While it is a fact that the Coronavirus epidemic is a natural disaster, many in the West wanted to intentionally portray it as a human-made problem caused by the Chinese government. Certain politicians even maliciously built conspiracy theories to slander the PRC and Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For example, infamous Republican senator Tom Cotton spread a rumor that the virus is a Chinese biological weapon leaked out from a super laboratory at Wuhan.
Recently, Chinese diplomat Zhao Lijian simply asked the US a question about whether it is possible that the Coronavirus had already broken out in the US and was labeled as normal influenza, only to be later brought to Wuhan during the Military World Games in 2019. Zhao is now demonized by the Western media and politicians for “spreading conspiracy theory”. Is it not absurd that Zhao does not have the rights to ask a simple question while Tom Cotton can make up lies blatantly by blaming the Coronavirus as “Chinese biological weapon”? Is it not ridiculous and hypocritical that Western media claim themselves as “free press” while at the same time attack Zhao but turn a blind eye to demagogues such as Tom Cotton?
Making up conspiracy theories and lies is unfortunately not the only thing that many hypocritical politicians and media in the West did in the last two months. Many also tried to weaponize this epidemic to take advantage against China. Marco Rubio, another infamous right-wing US senator, for example, saw this epidemic as an opportunity to bring Chinese Taiwan into the World Health Organization as an independent actor. Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce, instead of showing any minimum degree of sympathy toward those suffering from Coronavirus in China, excitedly hoped for the epidemic bringing manufacture industry from China to the US.
It is a shame that this kind of Cold War thinking still rules the roost in Western mainstream political spectrum today. Coronavirus epidemic has provided a platform in which the ugliness of the Cold War thinking is clearly demonstrated. Many Western media intentionally turn a blind eye to the success of China in controlling the spread of the disease and try to demonize the CCP. China is the first country to realize the uniqueness of this unprecedented virus and it took some time for the Chinese government to analyze the virus and to mobilize its health system to combat it. But the West demonizes China alleging of “trying to cover up” or “not responding to the epidemic on time”. The fact is that China quickly shut the transportation and most of the economic and social activities at Wuhan and concentrated the nationwide medical resources to help Hubei province. But the West started demonizing China of “violating human rights” by restricting people’s freedom to move.
No matter what China does, Western media always finds an angle to demonize China’s efforts to save its own people. Western media seems to be satisfied with this type of unconstructive “slacktivism” and has this condescending notion that they, as “observers” living thousands of miles away, know the situation in China better than the local Chinese people so that they can judge China’s efforts by simply typing biased articles on their computer keyboard.
One can clearly see how deep the two Red Scares in US history poisoned people’s minds so that the residuals of this poison remains in US society even today. Instead of actually analyzing the situation in China, Western politicians and media were interested in attacking the legitimacy of the CCP. They intentionally ignored the fact that most of the medical staffs, experts, policemen, and local cadres fighting against the Coronavirus in the front are members of the Chinese Communist Party.
They also intentionally refrain from admitting that it is China’s socialist system that enabled it to launch such an impressive massive mobilization of its resources so that China can contain the spread of the epidemic in two months. Those anti-Communist Western politicians and media were indulging in their unrealistic daydream that this epidemic can cause the so-called “collapse of China,” which ignorant anti-PRC clowns such as Gordon Chang have been bragging about for decades to satisfy their personal hatred toward China. But their malicious dreams are turned into ashes by reality over and over again.
Driven by their strong anti-China and anti-Communist hatred, we see the use of some of the ugliest words one can ever imagine. The Wall Street Journal published the notoriously racist article literally calling China the “Sick man of Asia,” provoking the historical scars of the Chinese people caused by Western colonialism. Kyle Bass, a US businessman, shamelessly broke the bottom line of basic humanity by nefariously claiming that he wishes all the CCP members to be infected of “Chinese virus.”
One cannot deny the fact that many Western politicians and media were treating the Coronvairus as simply “other people’s affair” and even wanted to use it as a weapon against the PRC in the past two months.
Ironically, the Coronavirus is now causing huge problem in Europe and the US as well. But it seems like the Western countries did not utilize the past two months, which China gained for them through its remarkable efforts in fights against the Coronavirus, to better make better preparations. The US has now become the country with the highest number of confirmed cases and the epidemic poses a huge health crisis for the US and the European states. Current crisis has ordained the world to unite and fight against the Coronavirus collectively but unfortunately we have noticed the divisive trend going on in the US at this moment. Certain US politicians insist the use of the derogatory word “Chinese virus” and US diplomats have even requested the UN Security Council to write that the Coronavirus “originated in Wuhan” in the joint statement of the Council.
Many high-ranked officials in the US also started to blame China for so-called “covering up” in the early stage of the epidemic. Such blame sounds absurd as well: Why do they blame China for the so-called maximum three weeks of “delayed response” meanwhile, the West literally wasted two months period that China gained for them through its efforts and sacrifice? Shouldn’t one in the West ask their own government what it did in the past two months rather than simply blaming another country for not giving them more time to prepare? One must realize the fact that the two months that China gained for the world are contributions of China to the world; it is a favor done by China to the West rather than something that China owes the West.
The Coronavirus epidemic has apparently become a huge crisis challenging the entire Chinese civilization now and it is no longer “other countries’ affair.” China and the West should join hands together to fight this common enemy of the human beings. Using China’s former Premier Zhou Enlai’s words, this is the occasion that the entire world must “set differences aside and seek the common ground.” We wish to see the US and China refraining from divisive actions and cooperating for the common good of humanity. It may be noted that each crisis changes the world order; therefore, it’s time to extend supportive hands for help and win the heart of the victim with kind support. The event not only has threatened us in economically and politically but is a threat to the entire humankind. It’s not a right time to make conspiracy theories as it is a time to build a cooperative and universal humankind theory in the world order.
The writers are International Relations scholars and political analysts.