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Posts Tagged ‘sars’

Dr. Li’s Death in Wuhan and certain people’s outcry over his death

February 9th, 2020 3 comments

Nathan Rich has been putting out many incredible commentaries on China on Youtube for the last few years. And this most recent one on Dr. Li’s death certainly ranks among the best commentaries I have seen in English (or Chinese even) on Dr. Li’s death in Wuhan.

Dr. Li was one of the earliest doctors to notice a SARs like virus going around in Wuhan and had “tweeted” about it on his Weibo account. Local government officials would sanction him about it – asking him to sign some papers admitting what he did was wrong and not to do it again. Later when a concurrent government investigation revealed that a new virus was truly going around, the government retracted his sanctions. Dr. Li would go on to work on the front lines … but later – just a few days ago – die from the virus.

Some people have gone anti-government over this. In the Youtube commentary, Nathan Rich noted that he can understand how people thought Dr. Li was a “hero” and that the government has erred, however he also noted that the most critical thing now is to save lives and go forward, and not distract from the government’s valiant efforts. He posited for those who are angry: even had people listen to Dr. Li’s original (then unsubstantiated) claims, would we really be better off?

Yes, more people might have more masks in the initial days and more might have been more diligent about washing hands, etc. But almost certainly, judging by people’s behavior since the Wuhan quarantine, people would have fled Wuhan and tried to cover up the fact that they might be virus carriers. So, while, on a personal level, leaving town would have been the “human” thing to do, it most certainly would been the worst thing to do in terms of saving lives and reducing the spread of the virus.

Would we be better off today had people listened to Dr. Li (and others’) initial warnings … or much worse off?

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An Outbreak of Sinophobia and Schadenfreude in the West

February 4th, 2020 4 comments

[A redacted and edited version of this article was published in the China Daily]

Nowhere is man freer than on the field of battle, where it is a matter of life and death, wrote Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace. One way of determining people’s morality is by observing their reactions during a crisis.

Western audiences have offered three types of reactions to the recent virus outbreak in China: Sympathy, Sinophobia, and Schadenfreude. Sane westerners, one hopes, empathized with the victims, wishing the outbreak ends soon. Racists took advantage of it to indulge in stereotypes and memes. The third category, the western media, was delighted with the opportunity to insult the Chinese government.

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