Scholars’ open letter to Americans

By Wang Wen

“It’s the economy, stupid!” Former US president Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign used the phrase to show that the well-being of the economy was the key issue people cared about. It helped cement Clinton’s near miraculous victory of George H. W. Bush. Now, I want to use a similar phrase to wake up the world and show that the US is the key to defeating the pandemic.
One hundred Chinese scholars, including me as the initiator, published on Thursday “An Open Letter to the People of the United States from 100 Chinese Scholars” in The Diplomat. It appeals for solidarity between China and the US and calls for an end to politicizing the pandemic and demonizing other countries. On Friday, more than 90 prominent figures in US security, diplomatic, business and academic circles also signed a letter calling on the Trump administration to work more closely with China to end the pandemic.
The two letters echo each other. Officials and prominent figures from more than 20 countries have expressed their support for the Chinese scholars’ letter seeking solidarity and stopping of the blame game.
It’s the US, stupid!
I care about the US and its people, and my only intention is to warn them about the importance of following science-based protocols for self-protection. I use the phrase not because I dislike the US or because I’m arrogant. I only want to wake up stupid US politicians and media outlets that are still passing the buck and refusing to accept responsibility, and continuing to find fault with China.
It’s the US elites, stupid!
The buck-passers should stop trying to shift the public’s focus and stop smearing China by suggesting it provided less than the most credible information and data. Is it even possible for China to deceive the US and its vast intelligence gathering apparatus? Complaints about China are not helping the US control the spread of COVID-19, which is the country’s most urgent task. Given that US President Donald Trump has cooled his picking-holes-in-China rhetoric and is to focusing on COVID-19 prevention, the US media and some politicians and officials – especially US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – should be concentrating on how to get more aid from other countries. If they can’t do that, at the very least they could just shut up.
It’s the US society, stupid!
After months of self-isolation and social distancing practiced by 1.4 billion people in China proved so effective in containing the virus, I just can’t fathom why US people are still hanging out in groups, gathering for church services, going to the beach and balking at wearing a face mask. Do they really not know that the US is the world’s most highly COVID-19-infected country? Do they think they are somehow spiting a deadly virus by showing off their so-called freedom and individual rights? They should at least respect other people’s lives, and take a look at what people in China’s Wuhan have done in the past two months by self-isolating and protecting each other.
It’s the US mind-set, stupid!
For decades the US has led researches in the world’s academic circles, especially in international relations, focusing on national security, regional conflicts, economic ups and downs and financial crises. Researches into the impact of pandemics on human civilization have been lacking.
Even in the 20th century with the rapid development of medical technology, more people died from infectious diseases than from wars. About 110 million people died in wars around the world, while infectious diseases have killed some 1.4 billion people. The US has fought a war on its soil for more than 150 years, but 1 million Americans have died from infectious diseases. If the US fails to fully come to grips with the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world war against the virus will never end. It’s time to change the paradigm of international relations.
I hope the COVID-19 pandemic updates the mind-set of humanity. Our planet was formed some 4.5 billion years ago, with humans of today evolving about 200,000 years ago and civilization as we know it isn’t much older than 6,000 years. Humans seem to be progressing but have yet to get the upper hand on nature. Infectious diseases have caused the collapse of many ancient empires. About a third of Europeans died of epidemics in the 14th century and the 1918 flu killed at least 50 million people around the world.
Does anyone remember the World Health Organization’s appeal from 20 years ago?
It was estimated in 2009 that if the per capita health expenditure of the 60 most underdeveloped countries could increase from $13 to $38, then about 8 million people would be saved annually by 2015. The WHO’s call was basically ignored, but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to act now. We need to start by changing the deep-rooted mind-set of existing governance paradigms and begin showing global solidarity.
–The Daily-Mail-Global Times news exchange item