The West – sacrifices at the forefront of mankind
The numbers of post-Wuhan casualties in the West are overwhelming. My worries and prayers go out for the people suffering in these countries. To the author, it feels closer than physical distance would rationalize perhaps because many Vietnamese people have lived throughout these countries. Dreadful deaths. Inexplicably, I have not a slightest thought that their countries are not as well-equipped as China (if there were any reason to believe in the figures given by China) in preventing and fighting with the pandemic.
Perhaps they were insufficiently aware of the risks causing them a non-defensive situation. Western countries might have believed in WHO’s manipulated reports and mitigation claims on Chinese coronavirus crisis which lowered their safeguards. Consequently, many governments lost the golden opportunity to stop the epidemic. Now that their awake and living a nightmare at the mercy of the virus, they fight vigorously and openly. I see them as the blatant opposite of China in the battle with the pandemic. The numbers of infected cases and death tolls increase gradually, sharply and… transparently. There was no suppression, no dumping into trucks of infected persons, no nailing the doors of sick persons’ houses and no unreasonably low numbers. There has been no sign that the governments in these countries worry about losing their face, because people died in their countries more than in the others, instigating the concealing of the data. Instead, people have come together resilient in their resolve and resigned to the fact that in life and death, disease is part of our humanity on the timeline of history.
I see no reason for the West to be perceived as weak. Impatiently, some argue that the democratic West has failed and that China has succeeded attracting the justification of the brutal way the Chinese government curbed the pandemic. In an article in the Diplomat, I described China’s approach as the “iron hand” which strikes when “the end justifies the means” as is often the strategy of dictatorial regimes. I find Westerners open, honest and sympathetic to each other. Through their media I have a window to the front line of humanity and it includes me! I see and feel as though they are fighting for the survival of humanity, ours. I pray for them as if I were in the back and they were on the front lines of the pandemic battle. Our pains and victories are shared.
To shift to the rationale side and put aside emotions, I have searched for the rank of the countries that have contributed the most to humanity, realizing that my feelings are aligned with their contributions to progress. The most developed countries, the wounded ones fighting bravely against the Wuhan virus, are the highest ranked nations in the contribution and promotion of human development, especially in science and health (while my country is very low in the rankings). They are the pioneers of mankind in finding the cure from which poor nations have benefited in the past. In the same course of thinking, I went on to look for the top countries with the world’s leading vaccine manufacturing companies, I then got a list of all Western companies from exactly the countries tattered by coronavirus. The company ranked 10 (in the top 10) is a Japanese company, the only Asian company, of Mitsubishi Corporation (*). Along that conclusion when there is a perceived cure who will you trust to administer it? Would you question a Chinese company’s vaccine, are you ready to take it, or will you choose a US or Western vaccine?
Life is important, I once said that the highest ideology is the ideology for human life. But when the sense of life and death in the overall continuum of human existence is considered, the sacrifice at the frontline is the ultimate morality. Fortunately, the frontline to prevent the disease is being fought by the strongest nations – they have been at the forefront of combat and in the search for medication and prevention of diseases to the benefit of all humankind before. It is not a matter of China’s hiding the truth of their losses to make the country seem stronger for a while, but it is Western transparency and sacrifice as solution, the medicine for the world, leading humanity to be stronger and more civilized.
Do many of us think this way?
Instead of thinking that the countries are less capable in fighting against epidemics, I appreciate their audacious struggle, their courageous and scientific commitment as well as their humanity and solidarity. I thank them who are in the forefront of fighting fiercely, and urgently seeking ways to limit the disease to humanity today and tomorrow. What can others do then to honor the sacrifices?
Vietnam – knowing her strength, limitations and understanding China
On the other hand, I appreciate the way Vietnam is coping with this pandemic. Some have called the commitment to containment miraculous. It is the result of the intelligence and prudence of those who know their strength and limitations. However, if I choose between arrogant pride and modesty during this successful period, I think I will choose to be modest.
Why did Vietnam stop the Wuhan pandemic early even though we are close to China while other countries have fared far worse?
Many reasons above apply but one thought I must share (and revel a bit in the reveal). A small but satisfying conclusion: the Vietnamese have never believed in the Chinese government. From the insufficient information from Wuhan, Hubei from the early days, the government’s cover-ups and fraudulent propaganda on the pandemic. Even positive comments from WHO about the coronavirus crisis in China … are all considered with the utmost vigilance of a people whose watchfulness from the North has become part of our survival. Is it wrong to find joy in our trepidation? It is even more joyful that more and more countries are awakening to the same dangers of the Chinese government’s self-seeking and irresponsible international policy in this human pandemic and its broader implications?
Vietnam acted as an early warning system to the world that China was not to be trusted. Vietnam’s caution and closure of the border has shown to be warranted and wise. Could this modest contribution of Vietnam in the prevention of this pandemic signal a higher standard for global response to future challenges and show that China’s lies and lack of human right protections won’t be tolerated?
We, Vietnam, strive, to shoulder the burden of contributing to humanity to enhance our national prestige in the international arena!
May mankind soon overcome the pandemic and stop the spread of Chinese authoritarianism and crimes which led to the loss of life and chaotic response to the pandemic! In the future, may humanity unite on the frontlines for our continued survival as one species.
Dr. Trien Vinh Le is a lecture at the School of Government, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam