Amidst all the US/China tub-thumping, finger-pointing and unhelpful commentary at all levels of government and society here is a draft of the letter that Xi JinPing should be issuing if he wants to be seen as a statesman, a leader, and a figure with a genuine interest in the well-being not just of his country but of our planet:
On behalf of both my government and the Chinese people I want to apologise to all of you for the unprecedented upheaval that has befallen our planet in 2020.
I realise that across the world families are dealing with bereavement and financial hardship from the Corona Virus pandemic.
There is no question that Covid-19 originated from China – although at this stage experts are not sure whether the outbreak actually started at the market in Wuhan, or was just discovered there.
Like other coronaviruses before, Covid-19 spread to humans via a natural event. This became the starting point for many in the scientific community including the World Health Organization.
Further testing in China in the months ahead may eventually establish the source of the outbreak. There is no evidence to support any theories that the virus was the result of laboratory experimentation.
After SARS in 2003 our nation had established an infectious disease reporting and warning system for future pandemics. However, the virus moved quicker than local officials. We have to ensure that this failure will not happen again.
While we were able to lockdown a city of 11million people to limit further spread in China the virus itself was already traveling; and once that process had started it has been impossible to halt the spread.
Instead, as we did in China, countries have sort ways to flatten the curve so as not to overwhelm local health services, and subsequently to reduce the reproductive rate of the virus.
We understand the hardships that this has caused around the world. We have also tried to support other countries in any way we are able to such as access to PPE and medical equipment and through the sharing of medical information.
Although a proud nation with a long history, China is still a very young nation that has experienced rapid economic growth as our leaders have sort to bring the Chinese people out of the poverty caused by war and revolution. Years of rapid economic growth have left some areas of society behind including the ability to raise warnings without fear of repercussion. That will change as people become more aware of their responsibilities not just to the state and party but to a wider society.
We will learn from this experience – and will be better prepared to confront the inevitable health crises that will arise in the future.
We also believe that our friends in Taiwan who have so successfully managed the pandemic should be granted full membership of the World Health Organisation. This is now not a matter of politics and ideologies. It is a matter of sharing information and best practices between professionals who are dedicated to saving all lives.
We do not seek conflict. We have a huge diaspora living, studying and working around the world. They all benefit from your generosity as hosts; as we hope do the large numbers of foreigners studying and working in China.
Our lesson from this crisis is one of more, and not less, trust. Of better and open communication. Of working together to solve global problems. Of recognising that human rights includes the right to health and happiness.
The Chinese people did not create this virus. They did not knowingly bring it to the rest of the world. Even now, medical expertise around the world still has only limited knowledge of how the virus mutates and how it manifests itself in people of different ages, race, or nationality, or in people with other health issues. We are, as are scientists around the world, seeking a vaccine. But with so much that is unknown it is easier to understand how in the earliest days of the virus there was so much uncertainty.
We will work together. We will not give up. We will not despair. This is a time for doves and not hawks – and this is my commitment as a leader and our country’s commitment as a friend.