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Year of the Plague – 12 – A gift from China, to me…and to the world

April 16, 2020

A gift from a former student – face masks from China


It came via UPS – a tiny timely care package so to speak, face masks. The masks come from China to help ease the Coronavirus mask shortage! from China. The package has about a dozen face masks, a gift from a former student, a graduate of, of all places, Wuhan University prior to continuing her education at the University of Denver where she was one of my students.

A dozen face masks to her retired teacher! She was worried about me. It’s things like this that remind me of how wonderful a career teaching was/is. The human connection. In the end it’s an exchange as are most meaningful human relations. I did offer her something once upon a time – of no marketable value whatsoever – a perspective on the global economy. She’s responded by making a career for herself as an international economic analyst for a time with the World Bank. Now she’s headed for South Africa once this pandemic downs and allows travel. And yesterday, a package of masks in the mail!

My former student’s personal response reflects broader Chinese global concerns to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. While it’s true that there will be a second, third and maybe a forth wave of COVID-19, the way that manner by which China addressed this first wave, first at home and then abroad has been both impressive and deeply humanitarian. The “reward,” “acknowledgement” that China is getting for this in the United States? Vicious, racist anti-Chinese campaign…a new and dangerous environment, not just for Chinese in the USA, but for Asians in general, led by none other than the country’s president, Donald Trump, nicknaming the Coronavirus “The Chinese Virus.”

It’s an old tactic – rather than accept responsibility for failure – scapegoat some one else, some other country, institution.. Nazis blamed Jews and Communists, American right-wingers blame undocumented immigrants, etc. etc. Just after 9-11,  the Bush Administration struck out at Moslems. Go back to the 1930s and see how Charles Lindberg blamed the country’s problems, a la Hitler, on the Jews.

So the Trump Administration – whose criminal neglect in the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic – it is a pandemic, not a hoax, gotta get over that one – is blaming China and the World Health Organization. A family friend posted a warning on social media:

The ultra-right government in this country, guilty of massively lethal criminal negligence around COVID, absolutely can successfully deflect responsibility by leaning on racist scapegoating against Chinese people and other Asians, if they are not strongly countered with a powerful message of global cooperation and international solidarity.


Funny thing. Most of the rest of the world – China included – is more interested in how countries and people can help each other, even if the Trump Administration is increasingly withdrawing from international cooperation.

It seems I have a history of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the U.S. becomes more “religious” and jingoistic, I find myself becoming more secular, more Marxist and less nationalistic in response.

A Darwish poem comes to mind: On Wishes…

Don’t say to me:
Would I were a seller of bread in Algiers
That I might sing with a rebel.
Don’t say to me:
Would I were a herdsman in the Yemen
That I might sing to the shudderings of time.
Don’t say to me:
Would I were a cafe waiter in Havana
That I might sing the victories of sorrowing women.
Don’t say to me:
Would I worked as a young laborer in Aswan
That I might sing to the rocks.
My friend,
The Nile will not flow into the Volga,
Nor the Congo or the Jordan into the Euphrates.
Each river has its source, its course, its life.
My friend, our land is not barren.
Each land has its time for being born.
Each dawn a date with a rebel.

Yes, and yet all those rivers meet and mix in the world’s oceans… as do all human social struggles.


True enough China waited three weeks before putting its entire state and society into full gear to fight the pandemic – once it did – easily the biggest success story in this period of Coronavirus damage control. Frankly nothing comes close.

And it is true that the WHO is filled with folks who come out of the pharmaceutical companies and billionaire opportunists like Bill Gates …but to deny they have a role and an important role in limiting the damage of this pandemic is utter nonsense.. There is badly needed expertise and organizational skill in dealing with pandemics there that the world needs at this moment.

Anyhow as the China bashing – it was Trump who lit the match – intensifies more for political reasons than anything else – it would be useful to see how China – a country today of 1.4 billion – turned the first round of this virus around – stopped it dead in its tracks; Yes there will be other waves – in China as elsewhere and it ain’t over… but my hunch is that China will lead it minimizing the damage there too.

While in Washington, the Trump Administration continues to flounder around – no plan for how to address this nationally as Trump rages at any and all and defends what is indefensible – his sorry – no criminal – record on fighting this pandemic, making an ass of himself, or I should say – more of an ass of himself – and putting the increasing numbers of people in this country and the world in danger. With each press conference Trump reduces U.S. soft power in the world that much more. What is left? Financial and military intimidation – the threat of sanctions, military action or both.

How did China do it?

How was it able to limit the damage for what would have been a national catastrophe? What follows is a link to one of the better analyses of how the Chinese fought the Coronavirus pandemic. Written by Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun and Weiyan Zhu and entitled “How China Broke the Chain of Infection” it first appeared here in the U.S.A. at “CounterPunch” it is a worthy antidote to both COVID-19 and Donald Trump’s self-serving attempt to rewrite the history of the U.S. non-response to the Coronavirus epidemic and scapegoat China and the World Health Organization.

Read how a government with a plan can interact with civil society in a way to minimize the damage – medical, economic, spiritual. Wonderful article.

How China Broke The Chain of Infection


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