Nav Search

Epidemic Prevention and Control Is a Major Test of China's Governance System and Capacity

By Tong Xin Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2020-07-15

A nation's vitality is tempered in times of hardship, and a country's governance system and capacity are tested through its response to risks and challenges.

The year 2020 is an important milestone, as it will mark the success of China's efforts in building a moderately prosperous society and winning a decisive victory in the fight against poverty. However, as we embarked toward this bright new day, an unexpected storm brewed on the horizon: the COVID-19 epidemic suddenly descended upon Wuhan City and the rest of Hubei Province, and then spread across the country. This is the greatest public health challenge that the Chinese nation has faced since the founding of the PRC in 1949 due to the speed and extent of the spread of the virus and the difficulty of implementing effective prevention and control measures. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly impressed upon the entire Party and all Chinese people that achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park. It will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there, and we must be prepared to work even harder toward this goal. In the face of this immense crisis, General Secretary Xi announced to the world: "The Chinese nation has gone through much suffering in its history, but has remained undaunted. Instead, it has forged ahead with greater courage, continuing to grow and rise up amidst suffering." Led by the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, the Chinese people have shown greater solidarity and diligence than ever before, devoting their undivided attention and effort to epidemic prevention and control. People from all sectors of society and all parts of the country have brought together an incredible pool of strength to wage an all-out people's war against the epidemic. The Chinese people are well aware of the fact that the fight against COVID-19 is not only an intense battle, but also a thorough and comprehensive test of China's national governance system and capacity. Therefore, we must fully leverage the institutional advantages and governing efficiency of Chinese socialism and work hard to coordinate epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development so that we can defeat the epidemic while also reaching the objectives of building a moderately prosperous society and winning the fight against poverty on schedule.

Epidemic prevention and control is a major test of CPC's capacity for exercising centralized and unified leadership.

Epidemic prevention and control is a challenge that is difficult for humanity to avoid, since infectious diseases have been present throughout human history, and an issue that continues to test the governing philosophies, decision-making mechanisms, and leadership capacity of governments and ruling parties around the world. Especially at the beginning of an epidemic, when information is limited, science-based answers are lacking, and the situation remains unpredictable, the questions of how to make sound predictions and resolute decisions, and how to rapidly create strategies and plans in order to secure more time and seize the initiative in epidemic prevention and control pose a serious challenge that put leadership systems and mechanisms as well as national governance capacity to the test. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has made the health and safety of the people the absolute priority, fully leveraged the strengths of the CPC's centralized, unified leadership, and made resolute decisions based on objective overall assessments of actual developments in the epidemic and the latest scientific findings as well as specific protocols for treating infectious diseases and patterns of viral transmission. The Central Committee immediately put epidemic prevention and control at the top of the agenda for the Party and the government, and united and led the entire Party, military, and nation in a determined fight against the epidemic.

With an unknown and extremely harmful virus spreading rapidly during the Spring Festival, a time when over one billion people traditionally travel and gather together, unified command and action were needed so that concrete and effective measures could be implemented to control sources of infection and block pathways of transmission. General Secretary Xi and the Central Committee made the decision to take direct command of epidemic prevention and control. The illness caused by this unknown coronavirus was classified as Class B infectious disease while being strictly controlled with measures for Class A diseases, and a whole series of response strategies were rapidly formulated and implemented. Wuhan and other parts of Hubei Province were designated as the main battlegrounds of the fight against the epidemic and the primary focus of epidemic prevention and control efforts, with Hubei Province ordered to implement comprehensive and rigorous controls on outflows of people starting from January 22. This was a key move and the most effective method for controlling sources of infection and blocking pathways of transmission. Meanwhile, we implemented measures for other provinces tailored to their regional conditions and the state of the epidemic in their respective areas, and formed a nationwide effort by coordinating various forces behind epidemic prevention and control. By analyzing how a country responds to a major crisis, one can get a clearer picture of the quality and efficiency of its national governance system and capacity. Many foreign dignitaries have commented that China is the only country that could act so decisively and organize and mobilize on such an impressive scale. If China's national governance system and capacity were mired in an environment of indecisiveness, inaction, and ineffectiveness caused by infighting and conflicting agendas, it would be difficult to imagine how the entire nation could have come together to execute orders in a disciplined manner and fight the epidemic through concerted efforts.

Under the centralized, unified leadership of the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, manpower and resources for treatment, prevention, and control have been quickly sent to the front lines. The country's best scientific researchers have focused their efforts on making key breakthroughs, and as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a meeting with General Secretary Xi, they identified the pathogen in "record time." More than 40,000 medical staff from all over the country have rushed into Wuhan and other parts of Hubei, bringing with them sophisticated medical equipment. Meanwhile, 19 provinces have offered assistance to support treatment, prevention, and control in 16 cities and prefectures in Hubei other than Wuhan. Key medical supplies have been allocated in unified management, and delivered to the front lines. Party committees and governments at all levels have followed the centralized, unified leadership of the Central Committee, and Party members have set a good example in rising to meet the challenge. The whole country has been mobilized in the fight, from the cities to the countryside, with the entire population taking part both out in public and within their own communities. Dr. Tedros praised China in this regard, saying that the country has acted with speed, scale, and efficiency rarely seen in the world, and suggested that other countries learn from China's experience.


Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan. On February 6, after ten days of round-the-clock efforts, the hospital passed inspection, becoming an important battleground for the fight against COVID-19 in Wuhan. PHOTO BY HUBEI DAILY REPORTER ZHOU LIXIN

The world has been even more impressed by China's ability to balance epidemic prevention and control with tasks concerning economic and social development. General Secretary Xi called on the entire Party and all Chinese people to adopt this dual approach after taking stock of signs that the situation was improving as he dedicated himself to leading epidemic prevention and control efforts. He has emphasized the need to stimulate China's huge potential and strong momentum for development, and to effectively fulfill all goals for economic and social development set by the Central Committee without slowing down or taking a pause. He has also emphasized the need to accurately analyze and understand the state of both the epidemic and economic and social development, and to focus intently on principal contradictions and the main aspects of these contradictions. By doing so, we will emerge victorious from all-out people's war against the epidemic while striving to reach the goals of building a moderately prosperous society and winning the fight against poverty.

Great calamities serve as litmus tests of effective leadership. China's fight against the epidemic has proven that the Central Committee has made accurate assessments, produced timely plans, and adopted effective measures. General Secretary Xi has served as the backbone of the entire Party, military, and nation's efforts in this regard, while the Central Committee's authority and centralized, unified leadership have served as fundamental guarantees for defeating the epidemic.


Farmers weed and thin out tea seedlings in Fenshui Village, Lujiang County, Anhui Province on February 12, 2020 (drone photo). With the arrival of the spring planting season, all localities have worked to ensure effective implementation of epidemic prevention and control measures while setting solid foundations for agricultural production this year by helping farmers keep up with the farming schedule and vigorously launch production. XINHUA / PHOTO BY ZUO XUECHANG

Epidemic prevention and control is a major test of China's political governance system and capacity.

To assess a country's political competence, one must first look at the political competence of the ruling party, examining its political program and governance policies as well as their implementation, the concrete actions of its members, and the strength of the foundations on which its ability to govern is based. Since its 18th National Congress, the CPC has upheld the principle of putting the people first, and ensured that the concepts of respecting the popular will, pooling the strength and wisdom of the people, and improving public wellbeing are reflected in every aspect of national governance. It has thus built more solid class foundations and firmer roots among the people to support its governance. The battle against COVID-19 has served as an opportunity to test and confirm the close ties between the Party and the people as well as the political competence of Party members, Party committees, and governments at all levels. This has provided important guarantees for effectively exercising political leadership, organizing and mobilizing the general public, and implementing the decisions and plans of the Central Committee. 

When the epidemic struck, the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core issued clear directives, while Party members and Party organizations at all levels worked with great determination to see that they were implemented immediately. This has proven that the CPC is indeed a party that puts the people first, and that its great strength comes from governing in the interests of the people. Party organizations at all levels have exercised strong leadership, while community-level Party organizations and Party members have set an example and played a key role on the front lines, tempering their sense of mission and responsibility by throwing themselves into the fight against the epidemic. They have also worked to mobilize the people, convey messages to them, organize them, and unite them, building a tight line of defense against the epidemic through joint prevention and control. The Party flag has flown high on the front lines since the crisis began. Moreover, the people's army, as the loyal guardian of the Party and the people, immediately mobilized when called to action and led the charge, demonstrating the deep emotional bond between the army and the people and solidifying this bond even further.


Medical workers perform temperature and identity checks on 25 employees of Zhejiang Tianneng Power Energy Co., Ltd. who arrived safely in Zhejiang Province from Yunnan Province on the evening of February 14, 2020. Transport authorities in Changxing County, Huzhou, Zhejiang Province helped local companies get their non-local employees back to work through point-to-point transfers by chartering inter-province and inter-city buses. PEOPLE'S DAILY / PHOTO BY WU ZHENG

In a vast and populous country like China, it is a formidable task to organize and bring together various forces behind large-scale anti-epidemic efforts within a short period of time. Tens of thousands of confirmed and suspected cases were admitted and given the best possible treatment, hundreds of thousands of close contacts were placed under medical observation, and tens of millions of people potentially at risk of being infected were asked to stay home under observation. We have tailored treatment plans to critically ill patients on a case-by-case basis, with teams of elite experts led by top academics guiding clinical work on the front lines. We have also instituted measures such as ventilation, disinfection, and temperature checks at airports, railway stations, bus stations, docks, and other key locations as well as for enclosed spaces on public transport, and suspended all large-scale events as well as tours organized through travel agencies in order to minimize the number of public gatherings. We have released information on epidemic prevention and control in a timely and transparent manner, and established joint prevention and control mechanisms for effective coordination between different provinces. In line with changes in the epidemic situation, we have implemented differentiated prevention and control measures in different counties, in a bid to minimize the impact of the epidemic on reform and development.

Throughout the epidemic prevention and control process, China has also actively cooperated and exchanged information with the WHO and the international community, not only taking responsibility for the health and safety of the Chinese people, but also contributing to global public health efforts as a responsible major country. The international community generally feels that China's resolute and aggressive prevention and control measures, as well as its outstanding ability to lead, respond, organize, mobilize, and implement policies have set an example for epidemic prevention around the world and represent an important contribution to all humanity.

While specific efforts for treatment, prevention, and control may appear to be highly specialized and technical in nature, these efforts are only possible through the leadership, organization, coordination, and implementation at every level of the political apparatus. In the early stage of the epidemic, there were certain localized instances of chaos that were very worrying, but these were just temporary phenomena that emerged as political and administrative mechanisms were still playing catch-up. The situation changed radically once all personnel were in the right position. Despite their different functions, Party organizations and governments at all levels, legislative, judicial, and law enforcement departments at all levels, political parties participating in the deliberation of state affairs, as well as people's organizations and social organizations have worked in concert with each other, and ultimately formed strong synergy for fighting against the epidemic, with resources being used where they are most needed. At this time of crisis, the high efficiency of China's political system has been on clear display for the entire world to see.

After withstanding the test posed by the fight against COVID-19, the CPC will be able to make more informed decisions on how to uphold, consolidate, improve, and develop its political governance system and capacity so that it can continue to govern for the people and pool strength behind major undertakings on the road ahead.

This is a major test of China's economic governance system and capacity.

General Secretary Xi made it very clear that maintaining support services is an integral part of our fight to curb the epidemic. This is a moment in which China's economic system and economic strength are being tested. Rarely in the history of the world has there been an undertaking as ambitious as China's efforts to simultaneously secure victory against the epidemic and fulfill economic and social development goals. Since the 18th National Congress, the entire Party and all Chinese people have maintained unwavering commitment to reform and development, unleashed and developed productive forces to a tremendous extent, significantly consolidated and improved the basic socialist economic system, implemented the new development philosophy, boosted supply-side structural reform, and promoted high-quality development, thereby building even more solid economic foundations. In 2019, China's GDP reached nearly 100 trillion yuan, with per capita GDP surpassing US$10,000 for the first time. Our economic system and economic strength are important institutional and material guarantees for defeating the epidemic that have also provided the foundations and support necessary for coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development.

When the epidemic was in its most rampant stage, the epicenter of Wuhan found it difficult to guarantee that all patients in need could be admitted and treated with existing hospital beds. Soon after the outbreak began, Wuhan acted quickly to requisition 7 hospitals, making over 3,000 beds available. At the same time, the Central Committee directed efforts to provide assistance across the country, ensuring that two specialized hospitals, namely Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, were each built within ten days, and that modifications were made to set up a large number of temporary hospitals. As of February 23, Wuhan had set up 16 temporary hospitals, which admitted more than 10,000 patients, significantly alleviating the pressure from the large influx of COVID-19 cases. The world was astonished by how quickly China was able to expand the number of hospitals and beds, but these efforts only reflected a part of our country's economic strength. Departments of public finance have continuously increased funding for supporting epidemic prevention and control. As of February 23, governments at all levels had allocated 99.5 billion yuan for epidemic prevention and control, 25.52 billion of which was from the central treasury. With the added support of the world's largest network for providing universal basic medical insurance, China has ensured that its people are not deterred from seeking medical help because of prohibitive costs, and that medical treatment and epidemic prevention and control are not jeopardized because of a lack of funds in any region.

China has a population of 1.4 billion, and therefore huge amounts of medical supplies are needed to treat patients. To ensure effective prevention and control across the country, an even larger amount of medical supplies such as masks, protective garments, ethyl alcohol, disinfectants, and thermometers are needed. As a result, there was a huge gap between the massive demand and the limited stock of supplies, and there were even barely enough supplies for medical workers on the front lines in Wuhan at one point. Since the outbreak of the epidemic coincided with the Spring Festival holiday, most producers of medical supplies were on vacation and had either partially or completely suspended production. Through the unified coordination of the Central Committee, we have ensured that all medical supply companies have resumed work and production, and made all-out efforts to resolve issues regarding labor, funds, and supplies of raw materials. Throughout this process, central government-owned enterprises have fully exerted their role as the main national force, and spared no effort in converting existing enterprises to produce medical supplies and increasing production as much as possible and as quickly as possible regardless of the expenses involved, with unconditional commitment and a wartime posture. China's daily output of medical protective suits reached 330,000 as of February 24, and daily output of masks reached 76.19 million as of February 25, thereby ensuring that front line medical workers in Hubei Province have enough of the key medical supplies that they need.

1 2 >