Original Title: Paris Diary: Masks! Masks!
Author of the article Observer.com column, Song Lu, Zheng Xun, a
French scholar and a researcher at the China Research Institute of Fudan University.
March 20, 2020. Clear weather.
Today France is a rare clear sky, and the pressure on police to perform tasks is not small.
Correspondingly, the incident of police banning wearing masks has become a hot spot. Now even firefighters and the freight industry have put forward the same appeal: masks must be used for work. According to media reports, medical personnel in some parts of France face patients directly without masks, and the risks are very high.
However, due to logistics reasons, government-supplied masks are often not delivered in time. The nursing home even wrote to the Minister of Health saying that 100,000 elderly people would die due to the lack of masks; in a nursing home, 12 people have already died. Public dissatisfaction has also risen, demanding the establishment of an inquiry committee on the shortage of masks. Masks have become the biggest focus in France now.
Indeed, in such a developed country, there is still more than a month of preparation time. Why can’t even have a mask? At present, there are 3 million medical staff in France, 24 million masks are used every week, the inventory of masks is only 100 million, and the production capacity is only 6 million per week. The gap is huge. There is a small detail that shows how rare European masks are. An article in the Figaro newspaper described the plane landing in Belgium with a mask donated by the Jack Ma Foundation landing in Belgium: “Welcome is like a savior sent by heaven.”
Of course, it ’s not fair to criticize Europe. The superpower of the United States still needs Taiwan to provide 100,000 masks per week. Up). If these countries cannot find a solution, as the epidemic spreads, a small mask is likely to trigger a political and social crisis.
I said in the previous diary that the West had more than a month of preparation time and did nothing, so the outbreak was really a human disaster. Some readers think I’m serious. “The European Union is simply not prepared to face the new crown virus,” Jose Borelli Fontelles, vice-chairman of the European Commission and former speaker of the European Parliament, told four media, including AFP. Once again, the astonishing truth comes out like former French health minister Buzan. The human life matters, the EU does not care at all, what can it expect to do? Isn’t this a human disaster? Now, the West is increasingly facing its “Chernobyl moment.”
However, the governance capacity and costs shown by the French outbreak response are also surprising. What is the cost for everyone to use 100,000 police in isolation at home? And these 100,000 people go out every day, which is actually equivalent to increasing the energy of virus transmission.
Today, news from the Netherlands that medical personnel accounted for a quarter of the national infection, I am very confused. Most of the infections of Chinese medical personnel are in the early days when they do not understand the characteristics of the virus. There is no case of infection among the more than 40,000 medical personnel who assisted Hubei nationwide. How could such a serious problem occur in the Netherlands?
The most amazing news today is from Italy: nearly 6,000 new deaths and a staggering 627 deaths. It seems that the understanding of the new crown virus needs to change. The mortality rate outside Hubei, China is only 0.89%, which is basically the same as that of influenza. It seems that medical resources, rather than the virus itself, are more able to determine the level of mortality. I hope Italy can awaken countries and nationals who don’t take it seriously.
Since the Paris Diary was published on March 15, it has rapidly expanded to the domestic and overseas markets with the powerful influence of the Observer Network. More and more readers and netizens have sent letters to express their views, and of course there is no lack of doubt. One of the netizens said this: Mr. Song, the western issues you observed in the front line are very convincing, but does the west have no merit worth learning from China?
My answer is yes. This crisis has fully demonstrated its two advantages, and both are at the core of the long-term security of a system.
The first is that they are far more tolerant of errors than China.
Britain’s irresponsible “herd immunity”, Sweden’s abandonment of testing, France and Germany’s abandonment of mildness, and the 180-degree swing before and after decisions by countries including the United States will not affect the system. Even if the western countries fail to fight the epidemic in the end, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of people or even millions, it will not affect the stability and survival of the system.
Today the British Health Secretary announced that it is no longer possible to contain the epidemic. At present, other countries that are more serious than Britain are still working hard and have not given up, but Britain dares to declare so. If this happened in China, the legitimacy of power would be gone.
In short, the room for maneuver in the western political system is strong, very stable, and not afraid of making mistakes. The long-term stability of a country’s system without subversive overturning is of course a good thing for the country and the people as a whole, that is, the long-term peace and order that the Chinese say.
Of course, the solution to a specific problem may not be a good thing. For example, this outbreak is one of the reasons why the West has behaved so badly—it is not exaggerated to say catastrophic, because they are not afraid of making mistakes. Many people in China denounce “herd immunity” and abandon testing as a waste of life. Yes, Western democratic systems are not afraid of grass.
So I often say that Western officials are far happier than Chinese officials. How can they have these responsibilities and pressures? There are countless accountable officials in China every year. The crises that the West has faced over the years are one after another, but how many officials have been dealt with? For example, there have been so many serious terrorist attacks in Paris over the years, people have suffered heavy casualties, and the country’s image has been seriously damaged. There are many mistakes. Can someone be held accountable? The staff of the Paris Police Headquarters were all turned into terrorists, killing the police, can there be an official responsible? The yellow vest movement that has not yet ended has evolved into a large-scale violent conflict in Paris. Can anyone be held responsible for this? If this happened in China, we don’t know how many officials will step down.
The so-called accountability in the West is mainly elections four or more years later. Who cares? During his term, Bush Jr. waged two wars erroneously, and the economic crisis broke out once in a hundred years. He was still full for eight years.
Chinese leaders have high demands on themselves and the people (compared to how the people in the East and the West demanded the government from this outbreak). Traditional political culture has high requirements on real politics, and the international community (that is, the West) has higher requirements on China High, so that the system’s tolerance for errors is very low.
Therefore, China and the West are totally different in responding to the epidemic: one is to contain quickly at all costs, and the other is to surrender and give up. Although China’s response to the epidemic is far better than that of the West, many officials in China have been removed and removed. Is there one in the West?
Today, I saw the news that the focus of China’s work now is to accelerate resumption of work and resume normal life. Therefore, Gansu stipulated that leading cadres should take the lead in the restaurant (of course, at their own expense) and consume no less than 200 yuan per week. This shows that Chinese officials have a heavy responsibility and burden, and they must take the lead in everything.
Objectively speaking, China’s decades of rapid development also benefited from the system’s intolerance to errors, prompting the government to continuously improve and improve to meet the needs of national development. Of course, there is a Chinese saying: Three people must have our teacher. Although the Western approach cannot be learned by China, how to improve the leeway of the system is worth learning from. After all, people are not sages, who can do nothing wrong. What’s more, China has developed into a no-man’s land today, and there is no role model in front of it. It takes a lot of trial and error to open a way for ourselves and humanity.
In this context, China must also increase its tolerance for errors. After the outbreak, although I was very worried about the epidemic, on the other hand I was more worried about facing an unknown virus. In the event of a major error in the response, it is very dangerous in a country with a very low tolerance for errors. After the epidemic broke out in Europe and the United States, many people in the West hope that the European and American methods are more efficient and less costly than China, which in turn can negate China’s experience and take advantage of the low tolerance of the Chinese system to achieve the purpose of shocking the system. Of course, this illusion is now disillusioned.
After the epidemic, I have had a debate with many friends. In the face of all kinds of fierce questions and criticisms, I only asked one question: “Since the 21st century, there have been many epidemics, but which country is facing an unknown virus? At the time, it was better than China? Mexico, the United States, swine flu, Africa’s Ebola, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Brazil’s Zika virus? ”
China is the best, but it is the most accused and criticized. Even some friends who are close to my point of view, this time. Except for those who hold ideological prejudice against China, the fundamental reason is that our system has too little tolerance for errors. The advantage is that we can make rapid progress and make as few mistakes as possible, but the disadvantage is that the system has less room to maneuver.
The second is that the management of media, information, etc. has reached a level of innocence. It can claim to be a free press and free speech both internally and externally, but on the other hand, it can effectively control and manage the media.
Twenty years in France, I have also made a lot of media friends, and no one thinks that France has freedom of the press. There are countless such examples. I will give an example related to China.
In the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France in 2004, then President Hu Jintao visited France. At that time, because France took the lead and formed a peace alliance with China, Russia, and Germany, and opposed the United States’ war on Iraq by bypassing the United Nations, Sino-French relations were at their peak. We know that whenever Chinese leaders visit the West, there are always some opposition forces organizing protests. As a result, this time, as soon as they came out of the subway, the police rushed up, punched and kicked them, and forcibly dragged them onto the police car. There is no media report throughout France. You must know that “Freedom House” is in Paris. One month after the incident, it was reported by other countries before exporting to domestic sales.
From a political point of view, I don’t think France is doing something wrong, governing the country, or being merciless. What I am opposed to is its hypocrisy: it not only holds the banner of freedom of the press, but also does not leak control.
The epidemic in France clearly had more than a month of preparation time, but it was extremely chaotic. In the face of growing public anger, former Health Minister Buzan suddenly reported in the “Le Monde” that she had warned the President and the Prime Minister as early as January and publicly opposed the first round of mayoral elections.
At that time, my first reaction was that France could not be held up any more. This direct spearhead of the President and the Prime Minister will trigger an unimaginable political explosion. In the face of strong public opinion, the media finally opened the gap, and the sensational effect was expected. How can we let go? Opposition parties who have been eager to try for a long time are even happier.
But no one could have imagined that everything would disappear the next day! As if this had never happened. My response was not anger, not disappointment, but the admiration of the five bodies! I don’t know how the French government did it, and it lifted the crisis to a halt overnight!
If you make a popular summary of the West, the great thing is that you can tell both your own bad stories and others’ bad stories.
Taking China’s fight against the epidemic as an example, China’s ability to reverse the disadvantages of international public opinion is not how good we are, but how good it is. No one can deny the good.
At the beginning of the epidemic, the West successfully stigmatized China as opaque and the data was untrue. In fact, it is not difficult to refute. The prerequisite for the true release of outbreak data is the presence of test reagents. On January 16, the testing reagents developed by China were sent to Wuhan-this is also the first in the world. Now everyone agrees that there is no case without testing. This was true of the early United States, Japan, and now Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden.
Moreover, the earliest reagent developed in China at that time took a long time to detect the results, and it basically took two days to go back and forth (now only 25 minutes), and the accuracy was not as high as it is now. However, on January 20, just four days after the testing reagents came out, the Chinese government ordered the general mobilization to fight the epidemic. That is, from this day, the National Health and Medical Commission began to release confirmed and suspected data every day. If anyone thinks that China’s release of data is too late, unless everyone says that the government does not need to test it to publish it.
Compared to the Western ability, China started late. It was not until 2013 that the Chinese story was told well, and indeed it did not have the ability to tell bad stories in the West. For example, this time the former French Minister of Health broke the news that it was harmonized overnight, and there were no reports in the country. In fact, due to the overall situation of Sino-French relations, we do not speculate, so it is also good to report it to the Chinese people.
There are many reasons why China does not have the ability to tell bad stories in the West. One is that Chinese civilization attaches great importance to morality and disdains the actions of villains. Second, the Chinese civilization is too kind, and is very opposed to falling into the rock when others are in trouble. Only when China’s rise is getting closer and closer to completion, we still have to have this ability as the West. China may not use it, but if someone comes to attack, it must be able to fight back.
Today the WHO once again expressed to the world that in the face of the epidemic, the Wuhan model is the “hope” of the world. At this time, the once-worst Wuhan has reached zero, and the footage of Wuhan medical staff eagerly embracing and celebrating has spread rapidly around the world.
Long before the outbreak in the West, WHO had solemnly recommended: The only thing that proved effective was the Chinese experience. But why doesn’t the West accept it? Science and rationality have always been Western strengths, so why are they missing today? In the stubborn Germany, in the severe case of confirmed cases exceeding Iran, today two districts finally announced the adoption of Chinese-style quarantine. The Spanish epidemic was more serious, so I became more aware: I declared all private hospitals to fight the epidemic. Just why do we have to wait until we pay such a heavy price for our lives to return to common sense?
Compared to Europe, American rationality has not yet returned. Just as Trump announced the national emergency, Tara O’Toole, the former U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Deputy Secretary for Science and Technology, said: “We should not do what China does. This is the United States. We will not ban People come in and out of the city, forbid them to travel, and this usually doesn’t work. “Just as the U.S. grew nearly 4,000 a day, Larry Gostin, director of the Center for Global Health Law Research at Georgetown University Law School, also told CNN: Most democracies take human rights and freedoms very seriously, and we cannot achieve the degree of control like China. ”
In this case, we have heard many times in Europe before. Even the United Kingdom, which has “herd immunity”, has now announced the closure of all entertainment and dining establishments? Violation of the quarantine order in Spain not only required a fine of 600 euros but also a year in prison, which is already more severe than China. What a shame in the United States, how much more precious American people’s lives are needed to get politicians from the siege of values to common sense?
I still remember that Hong Kong faced the financial crisis in 1997 and resolutely adopted government intervention. The West was blaming it for violating free market rules. Later in 2008, the western economic crisis occurred, and they did not hesitate to copy Hong Kong’s approach. Why is rational returning quickly when facing capital, but being slow on the road when facing human life? To say that Western capital is higher than human life is not really wronged.
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