I think, up until now, I haven’t even mentioned the CoronaVirus in this blog. That is a somewhat impressive feat… or perhaps an awful neglect, considering the amount of articles I read about it almost every day.
When I lived in China, I was just 60 kms from Wuhan. I still have friends in that part of the world. When I left, I had overstayed my Visa by a couple of days so that I could spend Spring Festival with my friends. I had been assured by authorities in my place of work that this would be no problem. Sadly, the authorities in Guangzhou airport did not agree. I was held back overnight and had to pay a kind of penalty for my misbehaviour. I remember being absolutely terrified. Admittedly, I have always been afraid of authority. But Chinese authority is different! I didn’t know what to expect. Even after a year of kindness and wonderful times among China’s people, I didn’t know how people in uniform would behave. In fact, they merely did their duty, and the next morning I was duly allowed to board a flight home. A lovely man who ran a cafe within the airport gave me food (I was very low on money) and allowed me to sleep in his cafe where the benches were softer and where nobody could steal my bags. His kindness will never be forgotten.
We, of democratic countries, seem to feel quite sure that we are more right – like politics is a religion and there are penalties for bowing to the wrong God. I feel that the fear of Communism is bred into us, similar to a fear of snakes or spiders… a kind of survival instinct. I have my own fears of Communism. I don’t deny that. But …
The Novel Corona virus has proven quite rampant and very contagious. After the initial few weeks where whistle blowers in China (like poor Dr Li Wen Liang) were squashed, China has taken the problem on fair and square and virtually closed the whole country down in an effort to contain the disease. Hospitals have gone up as quickly as post boxes. The population are under very strict orders as to the day-to-day modus operandi. The government hands out masks to prevent profiteering from the crisis. All this is possible BECAUSE China is Communist.
Buildings could never go up that quickly here. There is so much red tape to clamber through. Building regulations, application approvals, environmental assessments, OH&S, community complaints, etc. In normal times, I absolutely understand the requirement for these hold-ups and I applaud them. But thank goodness China can wave a wand and just DO what it has to do because I think the whole world would be a lot worse off if they couldn’t.
And the Australian population would deeply resent being told not to go outside, not to work, when they could shop, etc. We are not used to our government controlling our lives to that extent and would be sure to feel that it was an infringement of human rights. No doubt there would be protests. But China gets away with it because of the way they are. In this instance, I think we need to be grateful for that. We need to thank the Chinese citizens for their forbearance and their co-operation.
In a recent discussion with a friend, I suggested that in Asia (a generalisation) individuals are not valued as highly as they are here. The “right” to complain about a new building going up in your neighbourhood is something we expect. But if that new building is for the common good and critical to a specific crisis, should the individual really hold that much weight? As a kind of analogy: perhaps after this summer, Australians will cope more easily with smoke from back-burning than they did previously. It is a small discomfort for the greater safety of all. That is putting community ahead of the individual.
What is a “right”? I had this discussion with my brother some time ago. It is basically a law that a society agrees on. If it were anything grander or more inspired than that, there would not be the racism, sexism or discrimination that is sadly a part of most human communities. Most minority groups are still fighting for more rights. And many of our democratic rights (of which we are justly proud) are covertly being undermined. I read an article in The Guardian recently pointing out that Clive Palmer had spent something like $60 million in the 2019 election campaign (this donation only recently being revealed). Because of his political/personal views, much of this money was spent on discrediting the ALP. This worked in favour of the Coalition. Clive Palmer can do that because he is very, very wealthy. Is wealth meant to play such a huge role in a democratic election? And I needn’t go into the Sports Rorts triple whammy again…
And so, my blog is not really about the virus. It is about recognising what China has tried to do for the world – the personal sacrifices its people have made, the special efforts it has gone to, the way it has co-operated internationally in this crisis. It is Communist. But at least it is overtly so. Communism is foreign and scary to us. Sometimes they behave in ways we don’t understand. Sometimes (like us) they treat minority group incredibly badly.
But right now, forget all that stuff.
Right now, I just want to say thank you, China.