China and the US do poorly

Beijing, Berlin The corona crisis is far from over, but the international struggle for sovereignty over the pandemic has already begun. The countries’ vulnerability to crises is becoming the new litmus test for different political and economic systems.

As one of the first think tanks, the Eurasia Group in New York has now submitted a comparison of the resilience of individual nations. After that, Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden do well, but Germany, Japan and Switzerland are also particularly crisis-proof against the pandemic.

As in the country comparison of the London Deep Knowledge Group, Germany also comes second in Eurasia. The fact that the study still certifies a good health system even in countries that are badly affected, such as Italy, Spain and France, can only be explained by the fact that the situation is much worse in developing and emerging countries. In addition, a good health care system like the one in Italy will be overwhelmed if politics is not decisive. Only the mix makes countries resilient.

“The crisis-proof countries combine a high level of political performance, social cohesion and good health care with low financial vulnerability. If there is a weakness in this group, it is the vulnerability of their economies to a global downturn, ”says Eurasia expert Alexander Kazan.

Germany not only scored points with its good health system, but also with its prudent political leadership, social security and its financial resources. Sven Smit, Co-Chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute in Amsterdam, confirms that the financial condition of the countries will become even more important in the course of the crisis: “The economic resilience will of course depend heavily on whether countries are able to absorb the debt that has now been incurred repay also. “

The two superpowers America and China, whose rivalry has been intensified by the pandemic, do not make it into the top ten nations in the Eurasia list, but are ranked 11th and 12th. The result contradicts the claims of US President Donald Trump, the United States responded better than other countries to the virus. But above all it exposes Beijing’s propaganda, the pandemic shows the superiority of the Chinese regime in times of crisis. Meanwhile, allegations against the leadership in Beijing are increasing: Trump threatens China with “consequences” if it turns out that the authorities could have stopped the pandemic.

The US state of Missouri even wants to bring Beijing to justice. There are also demands for damages in the US Congress, which, however, are not given any chances of success due to the international law principle of state immunity. Nevertheless, China is increasingly caught in the crossfire of international criticism.

China’s mistakes take revenge

The fact that China reacted far too late at the beginning of the crisis has meanwhile become a consensus among experts. At the beginning of February, the central government in Beijing admitted “shortcomings” and “shortcomings”. Already in January the mayor of Wuhan City, Zhou Xianwang, admitted to the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV: “We did not pass on information in a timely manner and did not use any effective information to improve our work.” Mayor Zhou only reacted on January 23 and completely blocked Wuhan from.

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According to estimates, however, around five million people had already left the city by then. In a joint study, American, British and Chinese researchers found that the number of cases could have been reduced by 66 percent if the measures to control the pathogen had been taken only a week earlier. If the containment started three weeks earlier, the study would have reduced the number of cases by 95 percent.

“After a delayed reaction, China implemented the principle of ‘test, isolate, track’ in an extreme manner and also accepted human rights violations,” says Maike Voss, head of a project on global health policy at the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP). Like many other experts, Voss criticizes the high price at which the metropolis of Wuhan was sealed off. Voss said that health was not just about infectious diseases. It is also about follow-up costs that are caused by delayed illnesses and preventive measures. “Human rights violations also have an impact on health.”

The origin of the virus has been puzzled since the beginning of the crisis. First, it was said that the first human carrier must have been infected at a wildlife market in Wuhan. In March, Chinese government officials scattered claims that the virus had been brought into China by US military personnel. Reports from US diplomats and statements by US government officials recently suggested that an accident in a Wuhan laboratory that is researching viruses could have caused the pandemic. The laboratory denies the allegations.

Doubts about Chinese data

No conclusions can yet be drawn on the source of the coronavirus, said Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, WHO. However, the evidence available suggested animal origin, Kasai said at an online press conference.
An independent investigation into the incidents in China is almost impossible. Similar to other disasters before, such as the devastating earthquake in the southern Chinese province of Sichuan, Chinese journalists were able to report for a short period of time relatively freely in the case of Corona.

Then the censorship barrier fell again. At the beginning of April, China issued a new rule that research institutes must register their research on the coronavirus with Chinese authorities. Observers also see this as a measure to control research by the government in Beijing.

Since the beginning of the crisis, doubts have been voiced about the data from China. Experts have repeatedly referred to the reported figures as the “tip of the iceberg”. In Wuhan in particular, the number of deaths was questioned. In mid-April, the city finally corrected and reported 50 percent more deaths. She justified the errors by overwhelming the medical staff and the authorities, especially in the initial phase.

In terms of both the number of infected people and the number of deaths, China, with its 1.4 billion inhabitants, reported far less than other, significantly smaller countries. “The Chinese case numbers have to be seen as qualitative statements, that is, the trend is correct, but the individual figures will not be correct,” said Sebastian Heilmann, professor of politics and economics in China at the University of Trier, in an interview with the Handelsblatt.

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Chinese censorship in the times of Corona

Dhe organization “Reporters Without Borders” has asked the Chinese government to allow criticism of their handling of the new corona virus. Managing Director Christian Mihr said that whoever praises the Chinese government’s action against the virus should also consider that the same government is silencing critical voices. Journalists who want to report independently disappear again and again in China. Others are placed under house arrest. Two citizen journalists disappeared in February and journalist Li Zehua has been missing since March. He had quit his job at the state television broadcaster CCTV to independently report on the situation in Wuhan (F.A.Z. on March 6). Ren Zhiqiang, himself a member of the Communist Party, who criticized the government for trying to cover up the virus, has been missing since mid-March.

Social media censorship

Anna Vollmer

Researchers at Canada’s CitizenLab have shown that the Chinese government has been trying to censor information about the virus from the start. Certain keywords and keyword combinations had been blocked in various social media such as the YY streaming platform or the WeChat news service in order to prevent information about the new virus. YY censorship began on December 31, exactly one day after several Chinese doctors, including Li Wenliang, who died of Covid-19, warned of the dangers of the virus. Even after the rapid spread of the virus, the government did not change its tactics, on the contrary: more and more words were blocked. New regulations to regulate content online came into effect on March 1, allowing the government to further increase pressure.

Despite censorship, journalists try to provide the population with information. In their reports, they often write about local omissions rather than criticizing senior politicians. Censored texts, such as an interview with Chinese doctor Ai Fen, who criticized government behavior in the fight against the virus in the American “People” magazine, are translated into other languages ​​or Braille, replaced by words with emojis or behind QR- Hidden codes to allow further spreading.

China ranks 177 out of 180 on the press freedom list. 108 media workers are in prison there.

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Trade in and consumption of wild animals is prohibited

China has announced an immediate and “global” ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals, a widespread practice believed to be linked to the deadly coronavirus epidemic.

The Covid-19 epidemic has killed over 2,500 people, largely in China, and has infected some 77,000 people in 29 countries since December last year, sparking fear of a global pandemic.

It was initially thought to have originated in a controversial “wet market” in the city of Wuhan selling exotic wild animals, jumping from one animal to a human host – although recent reports have questioned that explanation.

The Communist Party announced the ban at a meeting on Monday, where the decision was made to postpone China’s annual parliamentary session for the first time since the Cultural Revolution, state-run CCTV reported.

“Since the Covid-19 epidemic, wild animal consumption and the huge hidden threat to public health from practice have attracted a lot of attention,” said the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, according to the South China Morning Post.

The decision comes after an earlier temporary ban was announced shortly after the outbreak began and follows requests from Chinese President Xi Jinping to crack down on illegal markets and trade in wild animals.

It is expected to have major consequences for the Chinese economy. A government-sponsored report in 2017 found that the Chinese wildlife trade and consumption industry was worth 520 billion yuan ($ 112 billion) and employed 14 million people.

Many of these people come from poor regions where wildlife farming is an important source of income. The ban includes wild animals on farms such as civet cats, which were thought to be linked to the SARS epidemic 17 years ago.

“The transformation of the reproductive sector should be combined with Chinese poverty reduction programs that have announced budgets every year,” said Zhou Ke, a consultant to the National Standing’s Congress Standing Committee.

According to the report, the use of wild animals for scientific and medical purposes will be allowed but the management of these facilities will be strengthened.

Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s senior political adviser in Beijing, said Bloomberg the process of ending trade and consumption “will be a stimulating exercise” and that determining whether traditional Chinese medicines are included and what counts as illegal are some of the issues that need to be addressed.

The current Chinese wildlife protection law, adopted in 1989, prohibits the consumption of endangered species, but is full of loopholes. According to People’s Daily, the wild animals covered by the ban include those already subject to the Wildlife Protection Act, wild animals that have “an important ecological, scientific and social value” and other wild animals, including those raised in captivity.

“The current law only protects limited species of wildlife, but the ban prohibits eating in a general sense, not only animals that live in the wild, but also those of the breeding industry,” Zhou Haixiang, member of a Chinese environmental protection group said to South China Morning Post.

frank.chung@news.com.au

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