How China prevails against the worst of COVID-19

Tom Fowdy


President Xi Jinping learns about purchasing and supply of people's daily necessities at a community in Wuhan, March 10, 2020. /Xinhua

**Editor's note: **Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain, and the U.S. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

China's leader Xi Jinping on March 10 traveled to the city of Wuhan, a city that had been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. During his visit, Xi proclaimed that the outbreak was "basically curbed" and hailed success at "turning the tide" of the situation in the area, encouraging medical workers to be victorious in overcoming the virus, and praising their sacrifice, effort and success.

Xi's visit to the area heralds a deep symbolism. It illustrates a show of confidence by China's government that efforts to both contain and eradicate the virus have been successful, preventing a nationwide pandemic. In doing so, it further sends a message that not only is victory in sight, but also it is time now for life in the country to return to normal. As other countries battle against the virus, China has ultimately emerged bruised, yet resilient. Western reports predicting doom for the country have not materialized.

China's political system is far more enduring than what foreign commentators give it credit for, simply because throughout its 99-year existence the Communist Party of China's (CPC) institutional culture is built upon the historical legacy of struggle, unity and perseverance in the face of crisis, disaster and adversity.

The long march in 1934-1935, whereby CPC forces retreated in a grueling 6,000-mile journey from the Kuomintang in Jiangxi would ultimately serve to set a precedent in the party's outlook towards endurance and resistance in the pursuit of long term goals.

And of course over the years since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, there have been other crises and challenges too. Yet every time, the system has been able to endure and overcome, absorbing shockwaves and learning from the mistakes that were made.

This is at the heart of China's opt for pragmatism, with Deng Xiaoping having reinterpreted Mao Zedong's call for "seeking truth from facts" and thus in turn describing the process forwards as "feeling for stones to cross the river." Thus at the heart of China's system has been an inclination to both endure and adapt to crisis.

Medical staff check a patient's condition at a temporary hospital called Wuhan Livingroom in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, February 10, 2020. /Xinhua

The challenge posed by the COVID-19 was certainly one of those. There has been a lot of pain: over 3,000 people have lost their lives, including brave doctors and medical workers, yet there can be little doubt at this point that their efforts were certainly not in vain. Despite relentless Western criticism, the number of new COVID-19 cases in China has reduced rapidly including within the epicenter of Hubei itself. Now, China boasts fewer daily new cases than the UK, the U.S. and every major country in Europe. Efforts have been doubled, such as large scale quarantines and mass testing (the government has tested over 300,000 people in Guangdong province alone).

The West were not prepared to offer China credit for these successes, but now their fruits are showing and thus consequentially in a show of confidence Xi's visit to Wuhan is set out to affirm that message. There're still things to do, but there is little question that the worst is over and China has endured.

A nationwide pandemic has been prevented despite the fact that the virus continues to spread across other countries of the world. This transfers China from what was a position of weakness to a position of strength. It now not only has the capacity to offer resources to other countries that are struggling, but also illustrate the strengths of its own model.

Moving forwards, effort must be focused on preventing the virus from re-entering China from overseas, but the country is nevertheless more prepared than ever. In addition, Xi emphasized the economy – China must get itself back on its feet but also brace itself for global disruption as the situation around it is plagued by uncertainty and turmoil. It must seek to prop up and guide the global economy where it can, providing incentives and opportunities to countries who's growth will suffer in the midst of this.

Therefore, one might describe this situation as China emerging almost certainly bruised, but not critically injured or incapacitated. Western reports deliberately pursued cynical reporting which aimed to use the crisis to bash the country's political system, understating its resilience and ability to overcome the challenge.

Despite these grueling circumstances, China has sailed through the worst of the storm. Now, Xi's visit sends out the message quite clearly to the world that China is prevailing against the COVID-19, is ready to restart and in turn is ready to help others.

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