Coronavirus: China Escapes but America and Western Europe Are Enmeshed
Virus Grips the West
The latest news is not encouraging. Globally over 30,000 deaths have been reported and out of these 10,000 are in Italy. The second startling news is that the United States has the most confirmed cases( over 100,000) worldwide of the coronavirus pandemic surpassing China and Italy.
There is a third aspect to this news and that is that China by strong-arm tactics has limited the pandemic and even Wuhan city is returning to near normalcy. The United States is now the epicenter of this pandemic and I understand more than 2000 are dead. By itself, a figure of 2000 dead in a population of almost 325,000,000 appears minuscule but the danger is an exponential spread of the disease like geometric progression and in case remedial measures are not taken it could affect large areas of America. Sadly the US president Donald Trump's failure to immediately react to the coronavirus spread is a big factor in America having the dubious distinction of being the number one nation in the world reporting coronavirus cases. President Trump is now asking the CDC to issue a "strong travel advisory "to parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This is something he could have done much earlier.
There are many reasons for the spread of this virus in the western world. One of the foremost reasons is the implicit and explicit trust in China by the Western industrialized powers. In contrast, the Southeast Asian Nations which are on the periphery of China and India do not have any faith in China with the result that people to people contact with China is very limited. The virus has transferred from people who came from China and in particular Wuhan to the western world. This was inevitable because of the close association and outsourcing of manufacturing activities to China by the western world. This has turned out to be a very shortsighted approach and Italy and Spain are paying a very heavy price for it.
The USA is the number one power in the world and the biggest economy. China since 1950 has vowed to replace the USA as the world's policeman. The opening up to China which commenced during the time of President Richard Nixon has now resulted in American corporations outsourcing their activities to China to improve their bottom line.
Most of the western world including the USA forgot that China is the totalitarian state where President Xi has declared himself president for life. One can't think of such a thing happening in a democracy.
The old saying 'birds have come home to roost' is very true and now as per the latest account, the US has 117,688 cases of Coronavirus according to CNN health Data and 2010 deaths reported across the country. The largest number of deaths are in New York which is the biggest city in the United States. A close examination shows that hundreds of visitors from Wuhan came to New York after the pandemic had broken out in China. The Dragon is guilty of hiding the spread of the virus in China because it can suppress the news. I will take their figure of deaths announced with a pinch of salt and it could very well be just 30% of the actual figures.
Sand Castles of the West
After the October revolution of 1917 when Vladimir Lenin ushered in the first Marxist state in the world, the West has been paranoid about communism and Russia. Even now there is the fear of Russia but at the same time the western world opened out to China which in some ways was worse than the Soviet Union. China has made no bones about its desire to be the number one power and replace the United States as the policeman of the world. If Western leaders had studied Chinese history, they would have realized that China has always believed itself to be the 'middle kingdom' that is, the center of the world.
Richard Nixon opened out to China in 1973 basically to counterpoise Russia. Successive American presidents have always felt Russia as a bigger danger than China. Right from the time of President Roosevelt when China was offered a seat in the Security Council to the present age the West has been in awe of China. It must be remembered that at that time China was a weak nation and it is incomprehensible how it was offered a seat in the Security Council.
The Chinese played a waiting game and they were able to get technology from the United States and Western Europe. They also did reverse engineering and slowly their economy began to expand with the result that they are now the number two economy in the world. The West European powers and the United States felt they could partner the Chinese in the world order. They began by outsourcing billions of dollars worth of trade and manufacturing to China, hoping that their economies will flourish.
This is the genesis of the close association with China and it had to have repercussions as millions of Chinese visitors began to visit the United States and Western Europe.At the same time as I have said the Chinese have a subtle approach and they mended their fences with Russia with whom they have a close alliance now.
The United States forgot that when you do business with China you are doing with the nation that considers itself superior to the western world with a civilization dating back 4000 BC. The Chinese will not share the sun with anybody and now that they are in power they have exerted in their periphery and the western world and the USA have been left sitting on their haunches.
There is no doubt that the virus broke in China but at the same time, China failed to inform the world about it. On the contrary, they tried to suppress the news and the first Doctor who reported this virus was arrested and sent to jail. During this period when the virus was spreading, Chinese citizens traveled all over the world and in particular to New York and Italy. Unknown to these countries they were the harbinger of the virus.
When China broke the news of the virus people like President Trump did not take it seriously. The damage has however been done and the virus had entered the American state. One cannot be sure if the spread of this virus was not a Chinese plan.
When the virus broke the western world was ill-prepared for it because they had never anticipated that such a thing will happen. China had got its act ready and ruthlessly quarantined an entire city and province and now it appears they have brought it under control. They have used strong-arm tactics that democracies cannot use.
The sandcastle has collapsed and the western world has to think about what to do next, in particular its relationship with China. There is also news that in a laboratory in Wuhan, the Chinese were testing such a virus, in their quest for a biological weapon against the West. Many have opined that the virus escaped from that laboratory. The question arises why would the Chinese be testing such a virus for use in biological warfare? This answer has to be given by the reader and the West including President Trump.
The virus will ultimately be controlled but it brings out certain aspects which show that the policy towards China has been wrong for the last four decades. I wonder if the western powers, particularly in Western Europe, can stand up to China. They better forget about danger from Russia and concentrate as to how they are going to get out of the Chinese embrace. The US also needs a leader who is a real man and does not keep on making bombastic statements. In that respect, Joe Biden could be the better man but time alone will tell.