Media Archive

People's Daily

23 March 2020

During January the onslaught in the Western media, notably the US and the UK, against the Chinese government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic, was merciless. The Chinese government stood accused of an inhumane attitude towards its people, secrecy, a cover-up, and an overwhelming concern for its own survival above all other considerations. The actual evidence was thin bordering at times on the threadbare but this made little difference to the venom and bile of the assault.

Certainly, it seems clear, there was a deliberate attempt to forestall and hinder the necessary timely action in Wuhan, and more widely in Hubei, but with the benefit of hindsight the time lost as a result proved relatively marginal compared with that lost in the West in their belief that it could not possibly happen to them, that China was to blame, and in their failure to learn from China’s experience.

To have used the tragedy of the coronavirus epidemic, with all the deaths, illness and suffering that ensued, as a stick with which to beat the Chinese government – and the Chinese people – was nothing short of a disgrace. When the Chinese needed compassion, support and solidarity, they received ridicule, calumny and barely-concealed racism.  One might ask why this was. Western prejudice against China is historically deeply-rooted and continues to influence contemporary Western attitudes. Over the last few years, however, especially since around 2016, the incidence of China-bashing has become much more common. There has been a growing sense of resentment towards China’s rise, especially and predictably in the US, but elsewhere too, combined with a desire to reassert and restore the old global pecking order and the established economic, political and ethnic hierarchies.

The main subject of China-bashing has been its governing system. The coronavirus epidemic offered, on the surface at least, ideal ground on which to attack China’s governance: it was covering up, it didn’t care, its own survival came first. How wrong and misconceived these West prejudices proved to be. After initial dithering, hesitation, and wrong-turns, once China grasped the nature and profound dangers that the virus posed for the Chinese people, its approach was nothing short of brilliant, an example and inspiration for all. For China, we must never forget that it was an entirely new and mysterious challenge. All subsequent countries could learn from China’s experience. China did not even know what the virus was. It had to establish that it was entirely new and work out its genome and its characteristics, which it immediately shared with the world. And it grasped with remarkable alacrity that the epidemic required the most dramatic measures, including the lockdown not just of Wuhan but all major cities and most of the country, and quarantining the population. The government understood that life came before the economy. Its extraordinary and decisive leadership met with an equally extraordinary and proactive response from the people: it was a classic case of the government and the people as one.    

The results are there for all to see. New cases have been reduced to a trickle. Slowly, step by step, the economy is being rekindled. Bit by bit China is returning to normal. For those wanting to avoid coronavirus, China is fast becoming the safest place on earth. Indeed, China’s problem is fast becoming visiting foreign tourists suffering from the virus and reintroducing it into their country. Meanwhile Europe and North America are facing a coronavirus tsunami: Italy is the worst case but others such as Spain, France, Germany and the UK are rapidly following in its slipstream. Soon the whole of Europe will be engulfed in the epidemic. And America, far from being immune, as President Trump believed, has itself declared a state of emergency to deal with a virus which it dismissed and ignored as a ‘foreign virus’. The West – and, above all, its people – are destined to pay a huge price for its hubris, its belief that coronavirus was a Chinese problem that could never become a Western problem. Too late, alas, having wasted all the time that China gave them, all the knowledge that China had acquired on how to tackle the virus, Western governments are now faced with a fearful challenge. Back in January they accused the Chinese government of wasting a fortnight; now it is revealed to the world that Western governments wasted a minimum of two and a half months.

The tide has turned. In the greatest health crisis for one hundred years, China’s governance has risen to the challenge and delivered a mortal blow to coronavirus. In contrast, Western governance has proven to be blinded by its own hubris, unable to learn from China until far too late, ill-equipped to grasp the kind of radical action that is required of it. Trump is still largely in denial, while the UK government is acting far too late. I cannot think of any other example which so patently reveals the sheer competence and capacity of Chinese governance and the inferiority and infirmity of Western governance. In their hour of need, the latter has let their peoples down. Meanwhile the Western criticism of China has fallen almost, but not quite entirely, silent. They have no alternative, as Italy shows, but to learn from China’s draconian measures. What else can they do? China has succeeded. They have, in truth, nowhere else to turn. Learn from China they must. But for many it is a bitter pill to swallow. The wheels of history are turning, irresistibly, towards China. And China must respond in humility by offering all the assistance and experience it can offer the West.

Martin Jacques

The Chinese version of the article can be read in the document below.

环球时报专访

2020年3月13日

由于新冠肺炎疫情在中国之外迅速蔓延,世界卫生组织11日宣布疫情在全球构成“大流行”。为应对新冠病毒这个全人类共同的敌人,越来越多的声音在呼吁抛弃偏见,团结合作。须知,在过去这段中国是“主战场”的时期,从病毒名称到抗疫举措及社会制度,中国均遭遇西方一些媒体及政客的持续攻击,甚至眼下欧美疫情急转直下,他们也要“甩锅”中国。《环球时报》记者近日专访英国剑桥大学政治学与国际关系系高级研究员 、“ 中国通 ”马丁 · 雅克,听他从一个西方人的视角解读这一现象。

体制问题暴露?中国政府应对这类突发事件的能力远超任何西方政府

环球时报:有人将这一流行病视为对不同政治制度的考验,还有声音批评中国的体制,您怎么看“体制问题”?

马丁·雅克:西方从疫情一开始就对中国有很多批评,现在仍然存在。你可以看到、读到诸如“中国犯了一个很大的错误”“这是政治制度的反映”等文章。这一立场正在失去吸引力,因为中国应对疫情的努力显然非常有效。这一立场没有意识到:第一,这是一个非常大规模的疫情暴发;第二,起初中国并不知道它是什么——这是一种人类没有接触过的全新病毒。显然,中国在最初的应对上犯了一些错误。但我们必须记住,这是一种无人知晓的新病毒,可以说中国是小白鼠。也正是因为中国,他们知道了新的冠状病毒是什么,他们不需要从头再来。

一旦中国政府意识到新冠病毒有多危险,开始着手解决这个问题后,中国提供了一个应对这一局势的教科书级别的处理方式。我认为,中国政府应对这类突发事件的能力远超任何西方政府。中国的制度、政府在处理这样的重大挑战方面优于其他国家的政府。原因有两个:首先,中国政府是一个非常有效的机构,能够进行战略思考并动员社会;另一个原因是,中国人希望政府在这类问题上发挥领导作用,并遵循这一领导。

我们必须记住,这是一种全新的病毒。在这种情况下,人们总是会犯错误。大多数西方国家,可能是所有的西方国家,对现在正在发生的事情准备不足,尽管中国的经验为他们提供了很多。他们太慢了,大大低估了病例数量。

环球时报:美国国务卿蓬佩奥等一些政客将疫情政治化,攻击中国的政治制度和共产党的领导,您如何评论?

马丁·雅克:可耻!太不光彩了。对于中国出现的严重医疗健康危机,完全缺乏同情心是太多西方政客和媒体的反应。他们将疫情当作用来打击中国的一根大棒。他们这样做的同时,也或明或暗地鼓励了某种针对中国人的种族主义,不仅仅是针对在中国的中国人,也包括在海外的华人。因此,中国在这方面经历了一段艰难的时期。英国媒体上有很多类似文章,他们只是把这场疫情当作批评中国政府的一种手段。

这样的看法现在越来越陷入困境,原因有二:首先,中国在以日益有效和令人印象深刻的方式应对疫情,世界卫生组织大力赞扬了中国的贡献。事实是,中国看起来控制住了局势。其次,西方现在形势堪忧,我们会看到他们如何管理,但根据目前的情形,我并不太乐观。我们太慢,没有看到危险——太多人认为这只是中国的问题。他们对中国的批评已经开始偃旗息鼓,甚至承认必须向中国学习。

病毒是“中国制造”?任何可以用来反对中国的东西都被他们捡了起来

环球时报:《华尔街日报》之前的一篇文章称中国是“真正的亚洲病夫”,一些欧洲媒体称病毒是“中国制造”。为何会出现这样的言论?

马丁·雅克:将疾病与种族和民族关联起来,可追溯到很久以前。艾滋病毒就是一个典型例子,它被认为与同性恋者和非洲人有关,被称为同性恋疾病。诸如此类的事情还有,所以并不新鲜。古往今来,这一直是人们对疾病的反应症状。不幸的是,它由部分媒体培养、培育和鼓励,自然也让人们恐惧。

我另外想强调的是,自2016年前后以来,西方对中国的看法发生转变,变得更加消极。整体上,从大约2000年到2010-2012年,有一段时间,西方对中国的态度因中国的经济增长、让数亿人摆脱贫困等而变得更加同情。但那种情况、情绪改变了。为什么?很复杂,我认为西方现在有一种深深的自我怀疑,因为它从未真正从金融危机中恢复过来。现在人们不仅认识到中国正在崛起,而且认识到它的崛起将是持久、长期的。中国将在世界舞台上成为一个强大的玩家。事实上,它已经是了。因此,西方对中国的态度变得更加严厉,更加挑剔,任何可以用来反对中国的东西都被捡了起来。 

环球时报:您提到世卫组织赞扬中国采取的措施,不过,有人质疑中国与世卫组织的关系,认为这种赞誉是因为来自中国的压力。

马丁·雅克:西方有些人对世卫组织如此客观和同情中国感到恼火,他们指责世卫组织与中国走得太近。你会支持谁?世卫组织或特朗普这样的人?我认为应该选择世卫组织,因为他们知道自己在做什么、说什么。他们与世界各国特别是发展中国家打交道。他们知道,总体而言,中国对这些问题的理解要比富裕国家好得多。而且事实是,中国在处理世界各地的卫生问题方面将非常重要,在改善卫生设施和医疗保健方面有很好的记录。

环球时报:《柳叶刀》杂志前不久发表多国专家的联署声明,对中国科学家、公共卫生和医学界人士抗击疫情表示支持,谴责病毒并非自然起源的阴谋论。您对“人造病毒”有什么看法?

马丁·雅克:我们生活在阴谋论的时代,英国首相和美国总统对世界的看法都与现实有些脱节。这是假新闻的时代,反科学的时代,所有本质上错误的想法和偏见都可能滋生,而且正在滋生。种族主义在许多国家抬头就是例子。我自己的观点是,当涉及医学问题时,我会听取科学家的意见。

疫情是“中国的问题”?现在不是了

环球时报:世界政治格局将受到什么影响?这场疫情,美国未显示出作为超级大国的领导力,你的看法是什么?

马丁·雅克:我认为现在对可能的政治影响做判断为时尚早。如果你只关注流行病如何被政治化解释或利用,那么在短期内,这与全球政治局势恶化的方式完全一致,因为美英两国本质上利用新冠肺炎疫情的暴发作为攻击中国及其管理体系的手段,当然,考虑到流行病的性质,这是一种新的方式,且让人很不愉快。但你现在也可以看到这种情况开始改变。我认为,西方被迫撤退,因为中国在疫情方面的行动取得了成效,也因为现在西方越来越困扰于新冠病毒在西方和世界其他地区的传播。由于中国如此成功地应对了疫情,看起来中国将因其处理方式而获得很大赞誉。

世卫组织曾表示,中国已经展示了如何应对,其他国家需要向中国学习,中国值得世界感谢。因此我认为,你已经可以看到一种正在发展的局面,中国从中获得了重要的公共关系信誉。

硬币的另一面是,整个疫情将如何影响中美关系。例如,中美关系正在发生什么?我认为,在这种情况下,我们可能会更加肯定事情的发展方向。美国的反华情绪不是暂时的,而是长期的。这一点在美国总统身上表现得非常明显。但如果你看看民主党初选中的候选人,即使是那些左翼人士也对中国怀有敌意。因此,我认为美国和中国之间的关系将更加困难,不会被修补。中美在贸易问题上暂时达成了停火协议,但科技战争正在加剧。所以,我认为我们正在走向一个分歧更大的世界。我认为,这场流行病可能会起到推动这一进程的作用。

环球时报:在公共卫生体系建设、城市治理和国际合作方面,这一流行病能为世界提供什么经验和教训?

马丁·雅克:我认为最大的教训将是,疾病知道对它来说边界是不存在的,它可以去任何地方。最初一些人的反应说这是一种“中国病”,这完全是胡说八道。现在,随着病毒在世界各地传播,我们可以看到我们在同一条船上。我们必须相互学习,这是重大的人道主义问题之一。我们都是人,我们有同样的问题,我们都会生病,我们同样害怕生病,所以这是一个本质上不是政治问题的问题。这是一个人道主义问题,因此需要合作、协作和齐心协力。

在早期攻击中国后,现在人们说我们需要向中国学习,看看他们做了什么,比如隔离,看看他们是如何控制局势的。在这种情况下,我们需要互相学习。直到最近,这场疫情基本上还被视为“中国的问题”,但现在不是了,病毒已经蔓延到所有地方。这一流行病有可能将世界团结在一起,这是我对这场疫情所能做出的最乐观批注。

【环球时报驻英国特约记者 孙微】

Interview with Global Times

2 March 2020

Martin Jacques Photo: Sun Wei in London/GT

1. After more than a month since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the epidemic has been coming under control inside the country. How do you evaluate China’s efforts in the fight against the epidemic?

Judging by the situation now, China seems to have got on top of it, with the number of new cases declining. By and large, it looks as if China has managed to restrict the worst of it to Wuhan in Hubei Province. I think that the situation is looking encouraging.

2. Some people view the epidemic as an assessment of different political systems. How do you evaluate the measures taken by different countries such as China, Japan and South Korea?

Read more >

Martin Jacques assesses the role and continuing rise of China in the decade 2010 to 2019 in an article published in the Guardian on 31st December 2019.

By 2010, China was beginning to have an impact on the global consciousness in a new way. Prior to the western financial crisis, it had been seen as the new but very junior kid on the block. The financial crash changed all that. Before 2008 the conventional western wisdom had been that sooner or later China would suffer a big economic meltdown. It never did. Instead, the crisis happened in the west, with huge consequences for the latter’s stability and self-confidence.

Read the full article here.

Martin Jacques delivered the Keynote Speech, titled ‘China, The Philippines and a New World Order’, at a special conference organised by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines to a specially invited audience of leading government, media, and business figures, and ambassadors, in Manila on 10 September 2019.

Watch the interview below:

Martin Jacques delivered the Keynote Speech, titled ‘Beginnings of a New World Order: The Rise of China’, at This is Tomorrow, a Symposium organised by the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR).

The sessions was chaired by Professor Nick Pearce, and held 12 September 2019 at Arts Lecture Theatre, The Edge, University of Bath.

Video copyright held by the University of Bath.

Martin Jacques joins Karen Davila on ANC Headstart to talk about the ongoing US-China trade war, China’s handling of the situation in Hong Kong and why he thinks President Duterte’s pivot to China is the right decision.

Watch the interview below: