The outbreak of the coronavirus has affected at least 77 countries, killed more than 3,200 people and infected more than 93,000. It paralyzed cities and towns, disrupted business, travel and schools. But no place has experienced more devastation than China, where the vast majority of deaths and infections have occurred.
The New York Times asked Chinese readers around the world to share their views on how the country responded to the outbreak of the corona virus that originated in central China’s Hubei province. We have heard from readers in Europe, Australia, China and the United States. One lived only a few kilometers from the Wuhan market, which many experts consider to be the zero point for the virus.
Most expressed serious disappointment at how the Chinese government dealt with the crisis. Others, however, argued that China, as a developing country, had responded effectively. Here are some of their stories that have been edited and condensed for clarity.
“Government officials are the main culprits who caused this disaster”
When the eruption occurred, I lived about three miles north of Huanan fish market in Wuhan. I must have been one of the first to Li Wenliang saw and alarmed screenshots on WeChat. That day, I immediately ordered masks and disinfectants for my family online and asked them not to leave our building complex unless there was an urgent need. But then, because the government kept scattering the so-called rumors and blocking information, almost everyone began to lose vigilance, and I was no exception.
No freedom of speech and misconduct by government officials are the main culprits that caused this disaster and made everyone so angry.
– Liang Yi, Tianmen, Hubei Province
“This outburst was like a slap in the face”
I came to the US with my husband, who is studying here. Now he has a job, but I have to stay at home because of a visa problem.
Earlier this year, my husband and I had a serious discussion about our future. He always felt that the systemic risks in China are too high, so we shouldn’t go back. But I felt like I was willing to sacrifice some things like free speech and internet freedom for a more comfortable and exciting life. In addition, I have a feeling that life is short and that in today’s peaceful times, the likelihood of suffering from systemic risks is so low.
I didn’t expect an epidemic to break out in China two weeks later. All exposed management problems and human rights problems make me sad and angry. For the first time I realized how important freedom of speech is. This outburst was like a slap in the face. It totally woke me up and it makes me very sad. I feel that I am further and further away from my home.
– Su Min, San Francisco
“China Still Has the Requirements for a Democratic Revolution”
Before the outbreak worsened, my friends and I all thought that China was a digital totalitarian state that was invulnerable to attack. But all of these atriums have been smashed because of the Chinese government’s chaotic response to pneumonia in Wuhan.
For me, this crisis has exposed the cowardice and ruthlessness of the Chinese government’s bureaucracy. At the same time, it showed that the Chinese people are absent from the bureaucracy Maintaining strong self-management and grass-roots skills. This makes me believe that China today still has the prerequisites for a democratic revolution.
– Wang Sheng fan, Adelaide, Australia
“My Parents Brainwashed by Chinese Communist Party Propaganda”
With the Chinese Communist Party constantly using authoritarian means to deal with matters, a humanitarian disaster is occurring. I decided to drop everything and flee as soon as possible. But my parents are brainwashed by the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda. They said if they died they would rather die here in this country and live or die with the mother country.
I was frustrated with it, but at the same time I knew that this is probably what most Chinese think. So I bought plane tickets for the next day and decided to go with my 9 year old daughter. My wife’s passport is valid for less than six months, and the immigration / exit department informed us that they have stopped all immigration services for Chinese citizens for the time being. Now it’s just me and my daughter here in Thailand.
This epidemic made me feel the division in my family deeply. This division results from our different views of the C.C.P.
– Gao Enzhou, Bangkok
“China’s Criticism of the Epidemic Is Extremely Unfair”
I am currently a university student in London. I went to Singapore for an interview. When I returned, I developed symptoms related to Covid-19. As a result, I was tested by the National Health Service and ordered to stay at home. The test results were negative.
The outbreak confirmed my belief that when you look at China you have to make a fair assessment. I think criticism of China during this outbreak is pretty unfair.
When critically analyzing the situation, one has to bear in mind that China is still a developing nation despite all the developments since China’s economic miracle. It reacted quite well for a developing country. Resource mobilization in response to the outbreak was only possible in a very centralized government. An outbreak of infectious diseases combined with the largest annual migration of people is a disaster for every country. Criticism of the early treatment of the epidemic may be true, but it distorts the picture; No government has ever done so much to contain an outbreak.
– Arthur Chan, London
“We are facing a dilemma”
At the beginning of last year my wife was admitted to the doctor. Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. She was pregnant and postponed her registration from September to March this year. Without the epidemic, we would have flown to Seattle with our daughter to start our new life on March 1st.
Due to the travel ban to the United States and concerns about traveling with our baby, we don’t want to take the risk now of traveling to another country and being quarantined for 14 days. We can only stay at home and wish things to improve. We are facing a dilemma.
– Mo Weicheng, Foshan, Guangdong Province
“It is human nature to be afraid”
I am a student from Wuhan and study in Ireland. Ireland is not a mainstream travel destination for Chinese students. There are only two people from Wuhan in this city.
I went back to Wuhan over Christmas. I returned to Ireland before the epidemic broke out. A week after my return Zhong Nanshan announced that the virus was transmitted from person to person. That was just before the lunar new year. The spring festival gala organized by my school’s Chinese student and scholar association was scheduled for two weeks after my return. I was a volunteer and I wasn’t sure if I should go. I sent a message to the chairman of the club, who calmed me down. He said I should come because my quarantine period was over. But I could still feel worried murmurs during the event. It is human nature to be afraid, but I still felt lonely and sad to be in a foreign country.
– Zhang Yuqin, Galway, Ireland
“This is not the most disappointing thing”
I live in Huizhou City, Guangdong Province. But I am currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had planned to take the Graduate Management Admission Test in Shenzhen in February. However, the test was canceled due to the epidemic. So my wife and I decided to go to Hong Kong to take the test. I signed up for the test in Hong Kong, but two days later I was informed that the test was canceled there too.
We looked for the next test location and found that it was in Thailand. After our visas were approved, we flew to Chiang Mai. I did the test in Chiang Mai, but my wife and I plan to stay here for the time being.
This is not the most disappointing thing, there will be more and more disappointments. If a soldier is a failure, it is only a soldier. But if the general is a failure, it’s the whole army. China’s top leadership is directly responsible for losing control of the outbreak.
– Zhang Zhida, Chiang Mai, Thailand
“How can you connect me to a virus that was created thousands of kilometers away?”
I came to Munich from Spain in mid-October last year to continue my studies. Before the outbreak of the corona virus, I always had the feeling that I was living in Spain and that I was emotionally dependent on it. After the outbreak, I received a message from my German landlord on the morning of the fourth day of the lunar new year. She hoped that I could move out within five days because her husband was afraid of the new corona virus. That was ridiculous. The last time I was in China was last August and my hometown was not an epicenter of the outbreak. I don’t know how they can link me to a virus thousands of miles away.
– Li Xiang, Munich
“I feel very uncomfortable”
I am currently attending Long Island Medical School, where as a third year medical student I am doing rotation in a hospital. Since the outbreak of the corona virus, I have heard hospital workers “joking” about pandemics. They mock the food people in China eat as if all Chinese were barbarians. They make statements about how Huoshenshan Hospital is actually a concentration camp that cannot take care of patients. They ignore the Chinese government’s efforts to respond quickly to the outbreak.
As a Chinese international student, I feel extremely uncomfortable with these false and arrogant comments, and I personally opposed one of the nurses to educate them about what was actually going on.
The media in the United States are under no obligation to present the truth. They usually twist stories to mislead Americans who think China is a terrible place and all Asians have the “Chinese virus”.
I worry from time to time that my patients refuse to have me examined just because I am Asian and they think I have the coronavirus.
– Yujie Jiang, Long Island, New York City
Compiled by Emily Chan and Sue Tong