The Chinese World’s Value Choices in the Face of a Pandemic

President Donald Trump initially labeled the novel coronavirus “the Chinese virus,” drawing an outcry, but later modified his remarks to avoid being accused of racial discrimination. According to Vice President Mike Pence, America is “anti-communist,” not “anti-Chinese,” however, this is obviously not the case. This has provoked a variety of responses by the Chinese people and within the Chinese world. These can be summed up in five value choices, which deserve study and thought.

First, there are the Trump fans, or “Chinese Trump fans.” They trust Trump and believe that whatever he says is true! Not only should the Chinese government apologize to the U.S., but the Chinese people should also express remorse to the entire world and take moral responsibility. Should financial resources permit, China should compensate everyone who has been infected, as well. Only through deep and sincere remorse can Chinese people can face the civilized world and the U.S., and be forgiven by major leaders such as Trump only with deep and sincere remorse.

Second, there is the theory of American superiority, held by American supremacists. These people might not agree with Trump, but they are convinced that the U.S. is the most advanced and civilized country in the world, and that Americans are the best! Chinese people must humbly learn from America about “advanced civilization” and its “universal values.” This pandemic is a clash between liberal democracy and totalitarian rule, one that the U.S. will definitely win! Based on these beliefs, even if someone suggested that the disease might have originated in the U.S., in the end, the truth will prove that superior Americans are right.

Third, there are those who identify culturally with China and are protectionists. These people believe that American society has many outstanding qualities, but they also recognize that the U.S. is primarily a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant country. Minorities, such as the Chinese, Koreans, people of color and Latinos, cannot avoid the fate of being discriminated against! Accordingly, Chinese people must strongly resist in the face of Trump’s humiliating remarks about the Chinese, and come together calmly for protection. These people believe that they must not mistakenly believe in such ethnic equality to avoid being impacted by racism. Many Chinese communities are now coming together for protection, something which reflects the sentiment of those who are fighting racial discrimination.

Fourth, there are those who maintain China’s values and identity. These people believe that China has a culture that differs from that of Europe and the U.S.; that it has precious values that cannot be belittled, such as family, and in the idea that everyone under heaven is one family. They believe in collectivism, social well-being, benevolent rule and upholding the spirit of the Middle Way.* In responding to the pandemic, these people reflect a spirit of loving all people and creatures, helping the weak, being kind to neighbors and showing empathy. They are worthy of recognition. Accordingly, in the face of Trump’s unreasonable words and actions, they must speak up and fight back, and never show tolerance nor forbearance.

The fifth value choice is made by those who believe in the Party-State doctrine or who identify with the Chinese Communist Party. Many Chinese language statements from the media reflect CCP propaganda. Some of the more serious and formal content is worth noting. However, there is also a lot of coarse, fickle and untrue propaganda that is actually harmful. When one carefully evaluates the official statements about the pandemic, one can find that although officials misjudged and delayed decision-making during the initial spread of the pandemic, the subsequent measures that officials took in response to the virus were mostly proactive and effective. There are various opinions about how the pandemic originated. According to Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the U.S., further scientific evidence is needed to make a determination! In other words, Trump’s unfounded accusations against China were careless and harmful to both sides.

Finally, this is very important: Scientific evidence must reveal the truth! Which of the five value choices discussed above are right or wrong? Which are true or false? The results of subsequent developments will be the judge.

*Editor’s note: The Middle Way is a reference to coexistence based on equality and mutual cooperation.

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