A SovereignPH.com EXCLUSIVE
A survey of Covid-19 implications from an international perspective
by Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan
A Community of Shared Future
As Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for the “toughest week,” with corona virus fatalities expected to spike, China delivers the first 1,000 ventilators donated to the state of New York.
As of this writing, Corona virus cases have surged at a devastating pace in that state with the number of confirmed cases nearly doubling, with a total of 113,704 cases and 3,565 deaths in the State. (When I finished writing the book, New York accounted for 372,494 cases or 35% of US cases, and 29,310 deaths or 29% of US deaths. The United States had become the epicenter of the world pandemic.)
Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai and his wife, Clara Wu, in collaboration with China’s Consul General in New York, Huang Ping, helped facilitate the donation of 2,000 ventilators, 170,000 goggles and 2.6 million surgical masks from China to New York, costing in the neighborhood of some $50 million.
“We finally got some good news today,” Andrew Cuomo said. “We are beyond grateful,” the governor twitted.
On the other side of Yankee politics, President Trump was busy preconditioning the American people of a worst-case scenario which he described as “very horrendous.”
“There’s going to be a lot of deaths we probably have never seen anything like this kind of numbers. Maybe during the war, during a World War One or Two or something,” he stressed during a White House briefing.
The US has so far has recorded more than 311,000 positive cases and over 8.400 deaths, with White House medical experts forecasting the death toll to be anywhere between 100,000 to 240,000.
As new cases of COVID-19 in China appear to slow to a trickle, Beijing is offering support to 82 countries in their respective fights against corona virus.
“We will strengthen cooperation with other countries in response to the COVID-19 challenge and together build a community with a shared future for mankind,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang announced.
China is sending millions of masks and other medical supplies, including ventilators, to fight corona virus in countries around the world making China as leading the global humanitarian response to the pandemic
It has donated US$20 million ($35 million) to the World Health Organization’s appeal.
“You throw a peach to me, and I give you a white jade for friendship. It is China’s traditional virtue to repay goodwill with greater kindness,” the foreign ministry spokesperson added.
Targeting 82 countries
Among the countries it is helping are Pakistan, Laos, Thailand, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Egypt, South Africa, Iraq, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Cuba and Chile.
China has also been aiding countries in Europe, the region with the largest number of COVID-19 cases at the moment, notably Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Serbia, and the wider European Union.
For instance, some 300 medical experts and about 26 tons of relief supplies have been sent to Italy, with ventilators, monitors, protective gear and essential medicines among the supplies.
The Voice of America broadcast, “planeloads of Chinese medical supplies, doctors and quarantine specialists have begun landing in European capitals on an almost daily basis, prompting some analysts to worry the humanitarian effort will ultimately give Beijing greater economic and political leverage over the European Union. “
Government leaders in the hardest-hit countries — Italy and Spain — have openly welcomed China’s help. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he would “draw from China’s experience” when he announced a state of emergency that confines the population for one month.
Other European leaders have been more tepid. Germany’s Angela Merkel described the aid as “reciprocity” for relief assistance Europe provided China when the corona virus swept through Wuhan province earlier in the year, infecting and killing thousands of people.
Long-term economic consequences could be significant.
“As Europe reels from corona virus, China is already well on the way to recovery, getting economic production back up,” said Evan Ellis, a specialist in asymmetrical warfare at the U.S. Army War College and an analyst on Chinese international policies with the U.S. Department of State.
“China could end up bailing out a lot of Europe’s financial institutions that will be swamped with debt from massive public expenditures required to deal with the epidemic,” said Ellis. “They will use the leverage to move on strategic sectors, mainly high tech and telecommunications.”
China helped finance Europe’s recovery from the 2008 recession, acquiring large portions of public debt in Italy, Spain and some east European countries. The EU has a $230 billion trade deficit with China, which has invested in infrastructure projects in Italy, Greece and Portugal.
Some aid has arrived in the form of donations from Chinese tech giant Huawei, which seeks to become the principal provider of equipment for 5G telecom networks despite U.S. pressure on European governments to exclude them.
In Italy, the most severely hit country in Europe, 50 Cuban doctors and Russian medical units have joined a growing number of Chinese doctors working with health authorities.
The Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand are among those in Asia to receive assistance from China.
The Chinese government has sent in a team of medical experts to the Philippines accompanied by a fresh batch of medical supply donations including additional 300,000 surgical masks, 30,000 medical N95 masks, 5,000 medical protective suits, 5,000 medical face shields, and 30 non-invasive ventilators. Last month, China donated 100,000 test kits, 10,000 personal protective equipment, 100,000 surgical masks and 10,000 N95 masks.
China’s embassy in Manila said, “the Chinese Medical Expert Team to the Philippines is among the first three teams sent by the Chinese government to ASEAN countries. Most of the team members have had front line experience in Hubei province to fight against the epidemic.”
Pakistan also has received about 15,000 testing kits, while Japan has received 100,000 face masks. South Korea has been sent 5 million face masks.
Short of medical supplies, China has also been hosting video conferences with health officials around the globe, offering its insight and experiences as the first country to deal with a major outbreak.
Herman Tiu Laurel, writing for SovereignPH.com waxed sentimental: “The World is truly getting smaller today: no person and no country can escape this connectedness anymore. It is not just epidemiology: We have seen how the global economy now teeters on the brink as the Chinese economy slowed to a crawl and the U.S. stock market suffered its biggest one-day fall ever.
These are all signs that as one song says, “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day… There’s a choice we’re making… We’re saving our own lives … let us realize that change can only come when we stand together as one.
Fact or fiction?
The plot thickens just because the pandemic was first reported in Wuhan.
The name of the city sends Adam Roberts of UK’s The Guardian jogging our memory to a bibliography of novels @Amazon.com and movie titles from Hollywood. From the deadly virus invented by Dean Koontz in 1981, to the plague unleashed in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, writers of fiction have long been fascinated by pandemics.
According to an online conspiracy theory, the American author Dean Koontz predicted the corona virus outbreak in 1981. His novel The Eyes of Darkness made reference to a killer virus called “Wuhan-400” – eerily predicting the Chinese city where Covid-19 would emerge. But the similarities end there: Wuhan-400 is described as having a “kill‑rate” of 100%, developed in labs outside the city as the “perfect” biological weapon.
An account with more similarities, also credited by some as predicting corona virus, is found in the 2011 film Contagion, about a global pandemic that jumps from animals to humans and spreads arbitrarily around the globe.
In the case of Covid-19, bats and even pangolins are being blamed.
Roberts emotes: “The plague that has destroyed us has uplifted animals, given them wisdom, and they are angry with us – why wouldn’t they be? It’s a common genre trope.
“When it comes to our suffering, we want something more than arbitrariness. We want it to mean something. This is evident in our stories about illness and disease, from contemporary science fiction all the way back to Homer’s Iliad. “
“Even malign actors are more reassuring than blind happenstance. Angry gods are better than no gods at all. Having invested ourselves with the crown of all creation, corona virus arrives to puncture our hubris.
Hugo Weaving, as the computer intelligence Agent Smith in The Matrix trilogy: tells Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, humans are incapable of developing a natural equilibrium with their environment: “You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed.”
The author Roberts concludes,
“In this telling, we are the virus.”
Ado Paglinawan is a broadcast anchor at Radyo Pilipinas1, and president and a regular columnist at the country’s newest daily news website SovereignPH.com and its partner magazine The Sovereign. He is a former Philippine diplomat, serving in the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York as press attaché, spokesman and special assistant to Ambassador Emmanuel N. Pelaez. He has served a strategic consultant to Agriculture Secretary Luisito Lorenzo, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo. He studied for 15 years at San Beda College from grade 1 to 4th year college majoring in English and Philosophy, minor in political science and history. He is a veteran of the First Quarter Storm, participating as president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. Ado has taken continuing studies in world politics and diplomacy, international public relations, information technology and remote sensing, and Eastern Christianity and Islamic studies, from various universities in Washington DC.