China success in containment of COVID-19 valuable
Recently there has been extensive coverage of Chinese involvement in supporting foreign countries in their fight against the novel coronavirus.
Given China’s achievement in the containment of the epidemic, its experience could provide valuable insights into policy response for other governments as the epidemic threatens to become a global crisis.
The list of beneficiaries is long, and one country particularly in need of help is Italy, where the epidemic appears to be particularly extensive in scale, and deadly in its consequence.
Of course, in hindsight, such support is always mutual, for China has also been on the receiving end of Italian generosity in time of adversity.
Italy, for example, extended a helping hand to China during the SARS epidemic in 2003, and during the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008.
The Chinese people, not easily forgetful of the help they have received, are always ready to repay the kindness it has received from others.
In my opinion, as a responsible country, China, in extending medical support to Italy, is making moves of significance for the following reasons.
First, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Italy. Last year, Italy became the first G7 country to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative. At present, China has already sent several medical teams to Italy, and more are expected.
The Chinese medical teams, in battling the disease side by side with local medical staff, would represent another example of the two countries going through thick and thin together.
Secondly, the Chinese medical support could help relieve local deficiency in medical staff, compounded by local lack of experience in the treatment of COVID-19. In Italy the ratio of infection among medical staff is rather high, while in Wuhan, Hubei Province, once the epicenter of the epidemic, there have been virtually no infections among medical staff from other provinces.
Thirdly, the medical support could have China experience tested internationally.
Like traditional Chinese medicine, although the China solution has been successfully proven at home, it remains to be accepted internationally.
Fourthly, the chance for Chinese medical staff to treat patients of different nationalities can enhance cooperation with international counterparts, boosting China’s international medical treatment capabilities and experiences.
Obstacles, though, remain.
First, the limited number of Chinese experts in Italy makes it difficult to take over whole ICUs there.
Secondly, Chinese medical staff there might face hurdles ranging from permission to practice medicine to local acceptance of Chinese treatment.
Still, as the COVID-19 crisis evolves, many countries around the world will face the difficulty of overstretched medical resources, and this might entail a more active role for Chinese medical expertise.
As mentioned at the G20 special summit held on March 26, China is willing to enhance cooperation with European countries. In the future, it will carry out scientific research collaboration in the fields of vaccines and drugs.
All in all, China is always ready to take on its responsibilities on the world stage and willing to lend a hand to those in need.
The author is a senior fellow at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.