Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hold My Corona: China Showing Basic Civic Competence

 

Thanks to the PowerLine crew, Ricochet members got better insight into what is and is not happening in China than we got from any other media outlet. Steven Hayward had an American in Wuhan give a field report.

If you had ears to hear, you should be both reassured and worried. You should be reassured that China is competently responding to a public health threat. You should be concerned and relieved that the Chinese government and institutions are truly competent, capable of learning from past experiences. That makes them a more dangerous regional and global competitor at the same time as we can assume they are less likely to blunder incompetently into a major war.

Haiti and Chile are polar opposites. The mostly flat island nation literally fell apart with a major earthquake. Chile, a mountainous land astride the ominously named “Ring of Fire,” politely declines sincere offers from the US and Israeli urban search and rescue teams because their buildings do not just fall down and crush the occupants. Why? Because Haiti is a terminally corrupt society and Chile is deadly serious about accountability, ensuring all buildings are truly earthquake resistant. No sketchy enforcement of concrete rebar codes in Chile, unlike Haiti or even Mexico. The lack of casualties after major earthquakes is an important indicator of government competence and civic accountability.

Corona is a Mexican beer, of German derivation, not Spanish. The coronavirus ain’t no Spanish flu. It appears the bug is taking people in their 40s and older, not younger healthy people. And the Chinese people are not panicking in the putative epicenter. An American post-doc interviewed on the latest PowerLine podcast tells us that residents of Wuhan calmly went shopping for fresh produce, walking past the sacks of rice you would want for a long quarantine siege. So, the people at the center of the supposed disaster have enough rice at home and just wanted the week’s fresh produce on top of the staples they believed they had enough of at home.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist government had learned from the last public health scare or crisis. They had a 1,000-bed hospital in a box ready for immediate deployment and have already pulled the trigger on popping up this hospital. Apparently, they may also have a second contingency capability with a second 1,300-bed facility they can bring into operation in three weeks. This is in addition to Chinese authorities reportedly directing 20 existing hospitals to prioritize coronavirus cases.

This is what a “first world” response looks like. The authorities, organizations, and people who pulled this off are not people you want to mess with. You don’t want to have a shooting war with this crew. On the other hand, such basic competence suggests that the risk of lethal foul-ups is much lower, that high stakes geopolitics will not end in an “oops!” followed by the biggest “kaboom” humans have ever heard. We are all, indeed, living in interesting times … in the Year of the Rat!

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  1. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailorJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So then, is it time for China to take its place on the world stage? Interestingly their combination of competence and centralized authoritarianism makes for comfortable and productive lives without Liberty. Is that the future for Asia? If so what about the rest of us? As for me, Give me Liberty or Give me Death! But I doubt most Americans would agree.
    I do agree we are not likely to have them blunder into a major war with the US or any war that could turn nuclear but that doesn’t preclude brush fire type wars that have been constant since WWII. It could be time for us to reach some accommodation with them that acknowledges China is going to be the hedgemon in that region because that outcome is inevitable no matter what we do? If so, it is time for Japan, Korea and Australia to step up.

    • #1
    • January 27, 2020, at 2:25 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Kozak Member
    KozakJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I got to tell you, if you look at the stuff coming out of China from the area don’t speak of a great response by the Chicom government.

    They got off to a late start and have let it spread widely. I have serious doubts about the numbers coming from the government as being vastly under reported. Just look at this video from a hospital in Wuhan….

     

     

    It’s spread by respiratory secretions. If those people herded like cattle didn’t have an infection when they entered the hospital they probably do now….

    • #2
    • January 27, 2020, at 5:14 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    I’m not giving them any credit yet. Too many credible reports of downplaying the situation.

    • #3
    • January 27, 2020, at 6:08 AM PST
    • Like
  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    I got to tell you, if you look at the stuff coming out of China from the area don’t speak of a great response by the Chicom government.

    They got off to a late start and have let it spread widely. I have serious doubts about the numbers coming from the government as being vastly under reported. Just look at this video from a hospital in Wuhan….

     

     

    It’s spread by respiratory secretions. If those people herded like cattle didn’t have an infection when they entered the hospital they probably do now….

    Cliff,

    I’m with Kozak 100% here. I don’t trust Marxist governments and if you haven’t noticed they still are Marxists. If this thing can incubate for 2 weeks before showing symptoms and still be communicable then it is very dangerous.

    Remember when Chernobyl happened and the Soviets wouldn’t take our robots to shut it down. They sent in 300 of their own people to certain death. This isn’t a 1st world v. 3rd world problem. This is a free society v. a totalitarian society problem. Sorry, I don’t trust them.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • January 27, 2020, at 10:41 AM PST
    • Like
  5. Iguanadon Coolidge

    Meanwhile our country is screening travelers from China for symptoms at limited locations, and we now know that it is contagious before symptoms spread. Travelers not wanting to miss vacations or baby-birthing trips may attempt to hide symptoms. Our current plan doesn’t sound like a competent response to me.

    • #5
    • January 27, 2020, at 10:56 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Iguanadon (View Comment):

    Meanwhile our country is screening travelers from China for symptoms at limited locations, and we now know that it is contagious before symptoms spread. Travelers not wanting to miss vacations or baby-birthing trips may attempt to hide symptoms. Our current plan doesn’t sound like a competent response to me.

    Iguana,

    You are on to this analysis. If it is contagious before symptoms show then it can produce a false sense of security that can be deadly.

    Wuhan Mayor Admits: Five Million Left Before Virus Lockdown

    The mayor of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of a viral outbreak that has killed over 80 people so far, told Chinese state television on Sunday that five million people left the metropolis before he imposed a travel lockdown last week.

    Scientists studying the new virus, believed to be part of the same family of coronaviruses as the one causing the Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, believe it is highly contagious even before carriers show symptoms. The symptoms are similar to traditional signs of the flu, including cough, difficulty breathing, and fever.

    Reports indicate that Chinese authorities had reason to believe a viral outbreak had begun as early as a month ago, but they only made public the revelation that the outbreak was caused by a previously undetected virus last Monday. Zhou confirmed that the government indeed had information that should have triggered preventative public health measures earlier than his administration took them, lamenting the unsatisfactory government response to the outbreak.

    Mayor Zhou Xianwang offered to resign on Sunday if the Communist Party deemed it necessary.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
    • January 27, 2020, at 11:20 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Three of my kids and spouses went to Australia for the Australian Open and are very concerned about the virus as many Chinese visit Australia. So far it seems the Chinese are open about the number of cases and are quarantining as is necessary. I won’t feel comfortable until they come home. 

    • #7
    • January 27, 2020, at 1:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    I got to tell you, if you look at the stuff coming out of China from the area don’t speak of a great response by the Chicom government.

    They got off to a late start and have let it spread widely. I have serious doubts about the numbers coming from the government as being vastly under reported. Just look at this video from a hospital in Wuhan….

     

     

    It’s spread by respiratory secretions. If those people herded like cattle didn’t have an infection when they entered the hospital they probably do now….

    Cliff,

    I’m with Kozak 100% here. I don’t trust Marxist governments and if you haven’t noticed they still are Marxists. If this thing can incubate for 2 weeks before showing symptoms and still be communicable then it is very dangerous.

    Remember when Chernobyl happened and the Soviets wouldn’t take our robots to shut it down. They sent in 300 of their own people to certain death. This isn’t a 1st world v. 3rd world problem. This is a free society v. a totalitarian society problem. Sorry, I don’t trust them.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Go back to what I wrote. Did I cite government sources? 

    • #8
    • January 27, 2020, at 1:31 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Just started looking at the Global Health Security Index.

    China scores slightly ahead of both India and Israel. At the same time, they are in a scoring band that indicates less preparedness than the U.S. and a handful of Western countries.

    • #9
    • January 27, 2020, at 1:46 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    For some reason I’m reminded here of Deng’s 24-character strategy and Dr. Kissinger’s questions posed to the reader in “On China:”

    The 24-character instruction read:

    Observe carefully; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.

    (…)

    Was the 24-character statement intended as guidance for a moment of weakness or a permanent maxim? At the moment, China’s reform was threatened by the consequences of internal turmoil and the pressure of foreign countries. But at the next stage, when reform had succeeded, China’s growth might trigger another aspect of the world’s concern. Then the international community might seek to resist China’s march to becoming a dominant power. Did Deng, at the moment of great crisis, foresee that the gravest danger to China might arise upon its eventual resurgence? In that interpretation, Deng urged his people to “hide our capacities and bide our time” and “never claim leadership”—that is to say, do not evoke unnecessary fears by excessive assertiveness.

    At its low point of turmoil and isolation, Deng may well have feared both that China might consume itself in its contemporary crisis and also that its future might depend on whether the leaders of the next generation could gain the perspective needed to recognize the perils of excessive self-confidence. Was the statement addressed to China’s immediate travail, or to whether it could practice the 24-character principle when it was strong enough to no longer have to observe it? On China’s answer to these questions depends much of the future of Sino-American relations.

    I don’t think we have any reason to really trust what the Chinese government says but in my opinion it would be a mistake to believe they aren’t very competent. Hu Jintao already started to revise Deng’s principle and Xi Jinping has really kicked it up a notch. They’ve clearly been more assertive and in addition to thinking about if they will “recognize the perils of excessive self-confidence” we also need to keep our excessive self-confidence in mind.

    • #10
    • January 29, 2020, at 1:11 AM PST
    • 1 like

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