Peter Hessler’s recent article shined a light on the global differences in response to the coronavirus. Throughout the article Peter details the strikingly innovative approach taken by China, to combat the virus. The first eye-opening innovation mentioned was the completely robotic package delivery service put in place, on the streets, by the Chinese government. The robot is so COVID-19-specific, that it requires owners of the packages to have on masks in order to retrieve their goods. This is an example of the first major point Peter makes in his article-the Chinese government did not only enact rules and regulations, they enforced them, and also facilitated the transition into citizens following said rules and regulations
Although the Chinese government did a great job of helping citizens understand that the old way of life would not be sustainable for a period of time, it would be unfair to not mention the moments of extreme enforcement of those same rules and regulations. One way in which the paternalistic approach was negative, according to Peter, is how aggressively the Chinese government eradicated contractees of the coronavirus from their homes and the ways in which others were trapped in their homes for weeks. Aside from these issues, the Chinese government did something that could never happen in the U.S. However, it would also be inaccurate to not give recognition to the Chinese citizens who skeptically accepted the new way of life taught to them.
This acceptance of the “new normal” was highlighted throughout the article, from picking up packages to having to record and report one’s child’s temperature every single day before sending them off to school. Having a population that is willing to work together and make sacrifices is essential for paternalism to work during times like these. The people have to be able to trust the government while giving up certain freedoms. Once again, this is something that I doubt could ever occur in the U.S., due to its deep roots of defying orders and living freely. It doesn’t help that the leadership during the beginning of the pandemic to this very day, has put so much emphasis on avoiding the footsteps of the Chinese government. The effects of that can be seen in the strikingly different number of cases between the two countries.
Furthermore, due to how commonsensical the innovations of the Chinese government were, I’m beginning to wonder if the U.S. simply wasn’t thinking hard enough about stopping the spread of the virus. With every protocol listed in the article, the answer to that question is affirmed more and more. It seems that while China and other countries were working amongst themselves to educate and stop the spread of coronavirus, our country was focused on suppressing the understanding of the virus, which has caused division among our people. Division is equal to picking sides, and picking the side that supports not wearing a mask and showing up to every party has pushed us further and further away from the models that have proven to be effective.