China convened a congress-like meeting on Tuesday to honor those who helped the country weather the COVID-19 storm. That may look like a self-congratulatory conviviality for some, but the world should take notice of China's response. This is where COVID ravaged first but was contained fast.
It is a lesson in COVID response 101.
I recall a line by Nicholas Cage from the blockbuster film "World Trade Center": stay together, stay focused. That is what the firefighters told each other when the Twin Towers were about to collapse. And now the world is about to collapse!
Stay together. That sounds antithetical to social distancing rules. But that is the key to success. Although people need to be physically apart, they have to be on the same page on what to do, when to do and how to do COVID control. The Chinese are committed to the goal because they've stayed true to their identity: a community of safe and healthy citizens. With that in mind, they were able to stay isolated at home, wearing masks all the time, and helping others as if they were family.
In China, most of the 1.4 billion citizens are strangers. However, they have similar interests to identify as part of the same nation for the same purpose. As American sociologist Benedict Anderson said, ultimately it is this fraternity that mobilizes community members to act as one when a crisis happens. And COVID is a perfect crisis.
And they've stayed focused. When you are dealing with a once-in-a-hundred-year public health crisis like COVID-19, you need a government to save all energy, spare no efforts and spend all they have. You need a government to concentrate single-mindedly on this one thing and have the bold courage and vision to put off all others for a while. For three months, the Chinese froze their economy, suspended mobility and let society hang on with skeleton functions. Deep down, they appreciate the wisdom of enduring short-term pain for long-term gain. And that is exactly what happened. China has delivered containment while others are still struggling with mitigation.
But the COVID crisis is not over. To have a COVID-free world, we need to stay together to develop and deliver vaccines. Nobody is safe until everybody is safe. And we need to concentrate on global health, the health of our bodies and our economy. Let us not be distracted by our political differences, economic interests or ideological divergences. Let us stay focused!
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