TO be perfectly honest, with the nightmarish course of the Covid-19 pandemic since February, I would have probably stopped writing by March as I would have been so busy using most of my meager savings stocking up on rice, coffee and canned goods; preparing for a refuge somewhere in the mountains or in a remote Boracay-kind of island; and arming myself with pistols and rifles (to fend off looters).
But I didn’t because of one thing: China.
It is the sole country so far to have succeeded in containing — mostly likely vanquishing — the pandemic in their territory. I don’t think I am exaggerating things, if you had, as I have been doing, checking the pandemic’s course since February as reported by Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center and Worldometers.info.
From just 12,000 cases on February 1 in the entire world — almost all in China — victims yesterday, April 10, totaled 1.3 million, half in the United States, Spain and Italy. There were just 74 cases in the US on March 1; now it is 367,507.
There were just 84 and 1,700 cases in Spain and Italy, respectively, on that same day, which together totaled 1,784 — less than our present 3,667 cases. Yesterday Spain had 136,675 Covid-19 cases while Italy had 132,547.
Wouldn’t you be scared out of your wits as I was, that we would soon be overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of cases, that with our less-developed health infrastructure and state apparatus, our society would collapse, starvation become widespread, food riots erupt, and it would become every family for itself?
What made that it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it song an earworm that kept playing in my mind was the fact that the US, the most powerful nation on earth, the richest, and with the most scientists and medical facilities in the world, was as helpless as the most underdeveloped nation on earth.
Would you believe that just exactly a month ago, Covid-19 cases in the US totaled only 959? Now it’s 367,507?
With that kind of data, one would be in extreme denial of reality, stupid or so irresponsible if he had the resources but did little to prepare one’s family for a catastrophe of biblical proportions, that would have likely even taken their lives.
But then, at the start of April, there was a miracle in this nation of atheists.
From a peak of 15,000 in one day in China on February 12 (there were 30,331 the other day in the US), the number of new cases sharply went down to four-digit levels, three-digit levels the following weeks and then just two digits since March, with just 39 cases on April 6.
Blame China all you want, rant that the virus originated from Wuhan.
For me though, I unabashedly can say that China is now the country holding the torch that is lighting this very dark place at this moment in history, inspiring the world that this plague can be defeated. If China had not turned around its situation, what hope was there? If China could do it, we can too, and we’re even better-armed from its lessons, and learning details of their medical interventions.
It would take several articles to explain how China did it, but I think the following were crucial in China’s vanquishing of Covid-19:
First, the two-month lockdown from the rest of China and the world of Wuhan City — an audacious move, with the West alternately ridiculing it as a panic reaction of the Chinese leadership and a draconian move that violated the human rights of the city’s 11 million people.
Second, The sui generis nature of China’s government, which has at its core 91 million members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), steeped in the ethos that it exists, as the Maoist slogan put it, “to serve the people. Think of the most idealistic and most moral of Philippine Military Academy graduates at the core of our bureaucracy; then multiply that number by 1,000 to imagine the role of the CPC in government in a nation of 1.4 billion. When the Chinese leadership moves, it is not the huge unwieldy bureaucracy it first mobilizes. It is its 91 million communist partymen who, pardon the biblical terminology, would be China’s “salt of the earth.”
The inventor of modern philosophy, the Greek guru Plato hated democracy, pointing out that it is merely glorified mob rule. He advocated the one-man rule of the philosopher-king who “possesses both a love of wisdom, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life.” China’s communist party is the collective philosopher king.
However, the evolution of this collective philosopher king has been been at a huge cost in human lives. The authoritarian Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward,” his failed industrialization program from the 1958 to 1962 and his “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” from 1966 to 1976, as well as his party’s pogroms to terminate its perceived enemies, have been estimated to have resulted in the deaths — from famine and executions — of about 100 million Chinese. But then, how many millions of Asians, Latin Americans and Arabs have the US killed in its wars to spread “democracy”?
Third, China’s authoritarianism allows it to make decisions swiftly, and for its government to act in total unity. A nation isn’t a gated village where the homeowners’ associations’ tasks are such things as keeping the streets clean, ensuring garbage is regularly collected and making certain potable water is flowing. A nation is a huge band of people traversing a jungle with hidden and known enemies. A committee chosen by a show of hands of the band once in a while can’t lead it swiftly through safety. Just look at the pathetic state of the US now, with President Trump grappling with the opposition-controlled House and the state governors, each a king into himself.
And fourth, the Chinese collective philosopher king’s mind is completely scientific, without the cobwebs of superstition, flaky notions of human rights, and untested theories. The Chinese communists have stepped away the mumbo-jumbo of Marxist dialectic materialism but retained its scientific bent.
Contrast that to the United Kingdom, which flirted with the unproven thesis of “herd immunity” (a large group of people if exposed enough to a virus will soon develop immunity). From just 1,100 Covid cases in the middle of last month, the UK now has 52,300, and its prime believer in “herd immunity,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is now fighting for his life in an ICU.
A problem is at hand, the Covid-19 pandemic. China’s best scientific minds, its core of cadres are mobilized to bear on it. The problem is solved.
Because it got its factories to produce as many face masks, personal protective equipment, ventilators reverse-engineered from German products needed for its 14 billion population if the plague could not be contained, China is now awash with such crucial medical supplies and equipment to fight the virus.
Thank God, President Duterte steered us from Benigno Aquino 3rd and his Foreign secretary Albert del Rosario’s hostile stance against China.