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The best of policy and people to overcome tough times

Updated: 2020-02-14 07:13:31

( China Daily )

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The novel coronavirus' ultimate impact remains a question mark. But the responses from the government, society and the international community have been exclamation points.

This increases the likelihood that a final period will, hopefully, be placed on this chapter sooner.

Few countries could mobilize such a rapid and comprehensive response so quickly. Nimble seems the right word. That is, with flexibility, speed and efficacy.

I realized this while spending the Spring Festival holiday in one of the least-developed, and one of my favorite, countries out of around 30 I've traveled to.

Great place. But it couldn't respond like China could-and is.

It was a firsthand reminder that China's responses matter beyond its borders.

China's reaction serves as an example of how its governance and social management are working well not only for the country but also for the world.

At the same time, organizations and experts around the globe are cooperating at new levels to maximize our species' ability to deal with such outbreaks. These results will continue to contribute long after the current virus.

And more outbreaks will come.

China has snapped into action to build hospitals; to produce and distribute medical supplies; to establish relevant databases; to implement quarantines; to swiftly develop and enforce standards and procedures; to introduce supportive economic measures; to use advanced technology to, when possible, enable remote work forces; to control the prices and supplies of necessities; and to curb panic while promoting education.

Essentially, that is, to nimbly allocate resources and establish procedures to shorten this passage of Chinese history before its final punctuation arrives.

And it will.

But the question remains: when?

Whatever the outbreak's impact on growth figures, it won't just be because of-but ultimately despite-the virus. Perhaps the same is true of many other measures of well-being.

Again, these are questions of scales-of contagion, of severity, of time.

We have some preliminary answers to some of these dimensions. But the question of "how long" remains open-ended.

Enterprises, celebrities and ordinary people are also writing this story, largely through donations.

It's a reality I've seen repeated since the Wenchuan earthquake left 90,000 dead or missing in 2008.People from every background in China and the international community come together when mass adversity becomes reality.

A construction worker who worked full-throttle to build the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan donated his entire salary to the hospital. Residents with private cars are offering rides to medical workers and delivering supplies in the city.

My daughter's martial arts class will make a donation to Wuhan for every kid who completes a five-video routine.

Overseas Chinese are organizing shipments of masks. Pop singers are calling for wealthy peers to give. Foreign friends are sharing QR codes for donations to verified agencies.

And people are responding.

Such times typically bring out the best in policy and in people.

It's a wonderful feature of humanity that, typically, bad things bring out the good in us.

I introduced this punctuation analogy to my wife recently while talking about the current situation.

She asked me what I think it is now.

"An ellipsis..." I responded.

She soon after sat down to plan her indefinitely delayed semester.

She turned to me and asked: "How do I prepare for something that is an ellipsis?"

"Like you would prepare for something that is a question mark."

"OK ..." she said, shrugging.

"It is..." I said, nodding.

It is OK.

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