Originally published on John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations (opens in a new window)
The corona virus emergency should bring out the best in people, but in some it is causing vicious blame-sharing. Fingers are being pointed at Chinese Australians and accusations levelled of lack of patriotism and even illegal activities.
This global epidemic requires global solutions. Australia has a chance to work more closely with the People’s Republic of China to this end and should avoid relations sinking to a new low.
Reflecting on our universal desire to live in a safe society, philosopher and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowen Williams comments in an interview for the BBC (opens in a new window) that this period is a chance for people “to settle down and think what matters to them, and who matters.” Isolated in our homes, Australians think first of their family, friends and colleagues, but also, as citizens of a maritime nation, of their relatives and contacts across the seas in New York, Madrid or Hong Kong. As the viral wave of COVID-19 infection spreads across the globe, all Australians wish they could be closer to those they love, no matter where they are and could help in some way. Penned in their own homes, they fight feelings of powerlessness.
Chinese Australians, who make up five percent of the population, have been feeling this pull of family and community since they first heard of the virus outbreak in Wuhan in late December. Now there is sympathy for other Australians with relatives and friends in Europe and America, but support for those in distress in China has been notably absent. There were alarming reports of racist taunts and abuse of local Chinese throughout January and February, prompting the Prime Minister rather belatedly to state that the government placed a high value on the country’s ethnic Chinese community. Nevertheless, anti-China feeling persists and it seems is being fanned by hawkish lobbyists in Canberra and elsewhere.
The Fairfax media have published several articles recently about Chinese Australian-owned businesses back in February organising shipments of surgical gloves and other medical supplies to help the Chinese fight against the Covid-19 virus. The most recent article (opens in a new window) by Nick Mackenzie and Anthony Galloway appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 2 April. There are reports elsewhere that the same businessman, Yuanping Kuang, named in this article, is now organising for supplies of medical equipment from the PRC to assist efforts to control the epidemic in Australia. Mackenzie and Galloway allege that this is at the direction of the Chinese Communist Party and part of a PRC soft power campaign to exert political influence in Australia.
The first outbreak of COVID-19 was in the PRC. There government measures to diagnose, control and treat it were heavy-handed, but results have shown them to be effective so that the country will recover more quickly and sooner than the rest of the world. Having stepped up production of medical equipment and hygiene products, the PRC has material and technology to share with others, and half of the world is desperately short of supplies. This week China has sent 10,000 virus kits and ventilators to Palestine, for instance, and is considering sending a medical team to assist local doctors.
Such aid should surely be welcome, but, rather, there is a growing concerted effort in the West to discredit the PRC and turn people against accepting its aid and advice. The media is making much of the fact that some PRC masks and virus testing kits are of inferior quality. (It seems some may have been privately imported and not part of a Chinese government aid package, and PRC officials have said that they originated from factories that were not certified by the government.) The US and China are engaged in tit-for-tat rounds of recriminations and blame for the outbreak and spread of the virus. It would seem wise for Australia not to involve itself in this unproductive argument, but that apparently is not understood in Canberra, where senior journalist Chris Uhlmann states (opens in a new window), “It’s a fair bet that the bulk of the population has got some key messages: that this threat came from China, that its totalitarian regime’s first reaction was to lie and that Australia is far too reliant on an unreliable nation.”
One regrettable result of the corona virus epidemic has been that governments everywhere are pulling up drawbridges and retreating into national isolation. The dangers of this approach are recognised by the United Nations, which this week launched a new plan (opens in a new window) to counter COVID-19. UN Chief Antonio Guterres described it as the “greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations.” “What the world needs now is solidarity. With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world”.
Jocelyn Chey is Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney and Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and UTS. She formerly held diplomatic posts in China and Hong Kong. She is a member of the Order of Australia (AM) and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.
原稿发表在John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations (opens in a new window)
在接受英国广播公司BBC采访 (opens in a new window) 时，坎特伯雷大主教罗文·威廉斯说出了每个人心中对安全社会的渴求。他认为这一特殊时期让人们可以静下来思考“什么最重要，以及谁最重要”。 澳大利亚人如今被隔离家中，他们首先想到家人、朋友和同事；作为移民国家的一员，他们自然也会牵挂在纽约、马德里或香港的亲朋故旧。随着COVID-19病毒在全球蔓延，此时所有澳大利亚人都希望与所爱之人在一起——无论身在何处，并以各种形式帮助他们共度艰难。而隔离在家的现实，让人强烈感受到无助与无力。
费尔法克斯媒体发表了系列报道，曝光澳洲中资企业在今年2月将医疗物资运回中国，以帮助抗击Covid-19病毒。其中最新的一篇 (opens in a new window), 由尼克·麦肯齐和安东尼·加洛韦撰写，发表于4月2日的《悉尼先驱晨报》。有意思的是，这些文章中提及的华商邝远平，目前正在组织从中国运送医疗设备和物资到澳大利亚，以协助澳大利亚抗击疫情。对此，麦肯齐和加洛韦的评论是，它是中国共产党的软实力扩张，借用医疗物资来对澳大利亚实施政治影响。
这种援助应该受到欢迎，但与此相反，西方国家正在出现令人担忧的举动，试图阻止人们接受中国援助与建议。媒体也对中国病毒检测盒的质量问题大加渲染（问题似乎是：有些产品是私人进口的，并非中国政府援助计划的一部分；中国官员表示，这些产品来自未经政府认证的工厂）。美中两国正处在关于病毒爆发的相互指责和推卸责任的论战中，澳大利亚如果明智的话，不该卷入其中；但是堪培拉似乎并未认清形势。高级记者克里斯·乌尔曼说 (opens in a new window)： “大部分澳大利亚人得到的信息是：病毒源于中国，当地极权政府的第一反应是撒谎，而澳大利亚太相信这个不可靠的国家了。”
面对冠状病毒流行，世界各国政府正在走向闭关锁国，这是令人遗憾的结果。联合国意识到了这种危险，并于本周发布了抗击COVID-19的新计划 (opens in a new window)。联合国秘书长安东尼奥·古特雷斯认为 “这是联合国成立以来的最大考验，当下全世界需要的是团结。团结一心，我们才可以战胜病毒，建设一个更美好的世界。”