SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Xie_Zhihai ”Information Sharing in the Corona Era”
We have encountered the new coronavirus outbreak at the beginning of the year 2020. It was a very short time that people, except China, considered the coronavirus infection as somebody else’s problem. Face masks and hand sanitizer have disappeared at the stores. Schools have closed. People, who worked for companies in the cities, have shifted to work from home quickly. At just when we thought how long such a staying-home period would be, economic activities were restarted gradually. People returned to their offices in the cities, re-opened stores and schools were restarted as well. Those were a stream of time that I felt personally in Japan. In other countries, isolation or self-restrained life started earlier than Japan. But the number of infected persons is increasing day by day in Japan. Recently I took notice of such brilliant news that Disney Land re-opened in some countries where they restarted their economic activities.
However, do not forget the fact that there is no country which could show fine specimen for convergence of new coronavirus. On the contrary, some countries, where people restarted their economic activities, had clusters and got back to the strained situations closing their schools. There are two things which we can do. One is “we live our lives taking care of being affected”. It is kind-heartedness to the others. The second important thing: if some country could hold down infections before the coming of the second wave of coronavirus, it will be appreciated to help other countries that have a lot of infected persons. We should consider the whole earth as one country. We could re-acknowledge that we can connect each other on the network despite it takes time if we like to move. There is no border on the line.
Amid people in the world are inclined to “nationalism”, the new coronavirus has appeared into sudden prominence. The coronavirus taught us we should not live as we like. And we must win the war against our common enemy “coronavirus” which is the one and only. It may be a good chance for us to change our view that the country, which says “our country first”, may lose the war.
After the corona, China has entered a different phase. Their aims as a country became difficult to understand. While they are developing their support to the developing countries aiding face masks, they are positive in advancement to the South China Sea. They are good friends to the WHO. But, on the other hand, they show open hostility to the United States.
Of course, there are a few points to be evaluated highly. For example, China announced genome information about the new coronavirus to the world promptly which outbreak in Wuhan. Medical facilities in the world became possible to have PCR testing by such an announcement. It is said that China has delayed in their initial response when SAAS in 2003 spread. We can say it was a good example. The United Nations system evaluates it highly actually.
Another example is the lockout of Wuhan City which is the biggest city in Hubei Province and has 11 million population. All of them had to stay at home and every means of transportation and roads were blockaded.
TV pictures, not a soul were to be seen on the street, were broadcasted in the world. It gave the world high-impact and people thought “do we have to do to such extent?” However the world took similar measures as Wuhan and people stayed at home and public means of transportation including airplanes stopped or decreased their frequencies. Sorry to say to Wuhan citizens who have not been infected, the other governments than China could not imagine how the lockout or refraining from going-out would be if China has not decided “lockout”.
The number of infected persons are still increasing. In South Korea, where the number of infected persons was decreasing and they restarted their economic activities, the clusters have occurred in some areas. In Beijing also, the clusters occurred after lifting their quarantine and schools were asked to close. Then, how about in Japan? They reopened their economic activities knowing the situation in South Korea and China and the number of infected persons is increasing day by day. In America (in the case of states where the number of infected persons is increasing), people became possible to have eating and drinking in restaurants and bars. However, since the number of infected persons did not decrease, people were allowed only delivery or takeaway. No entry at parks or beaches of course.
What I think it noteworthy is that many countries are sharing their pictures or current situations with each other. Many people may think it quite normal. It is precious to share such information with each other now when there are restrictions in movement between countries. If South Korea would hide the clusters in nightclubs despite their restarting of economic activities being ahead of other countries, how would it be? If China hide the clusters in fresh markets in Beijing, how would it be?
Some people may think it would be all right because people can share pictures or videos in real time by Instagram or Tik_Tok. I think it’s better if people could exchange their compliments with each other for the information which they could share. And it is good diplomacy that those countries share not only the present situation but medical information and statistic also. Because COVID19 is a common issue in international societies now. If China will keep facing the coronavirus openly and taking initiative in sharing information about medical and scientific fields, China could increase its presence in a positive sense and would be appraised in diplomatic fields.
Xie_Zhihai/Associated Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala