How the coronavirus has he been able to spread in China before they contaminate the planet ? Because it is a poor country ? No. Its epicenter is located in one of the economic regions the most developed in the world. Because this country is not sufficiently equipped medically ? No. The medical teams are performing, and it is precisely in Wuhan that we find the largest laboratory virological the country. Because of poor infrastructure ? Wuhan, at the cutting edge of bio-plastics and bio-building, is hailed as a city ecologist high-tech design which, by a clever network of canals and drains, recycles all its wastewater, preserves vegetation busty and varied and creates impressive energy savings. Is this to say that the Covid-19 is a "black swan" in the sense of Nassim Taleb, that is to say, an event that is totally unpredictable that suddenly destabilizes a whole system ? Absolutely not. Such a virus was fully anticipable. In 2003, another coronavirus, Sars, had also taken birth in China and had already – albeit in more modest proportions – contaminated the world according to a similar scenario. Taleb himself says that it is not a black swan. Is this due to a lack of monitoring ? No. China is a police State which is equipped with means of monitoring the most advanced in the world, which are becoming every day more effective and terrifying.
The real cause is elsewhere : the totalitarian bureaucracy of the communist regime. Why ? Because, not to mention its immorality land, this mode of governance is here to be ineffective for at least five reasons. First, because hunting down and punishing whistleblowers, the bureaucracy makes poor from the outset, the number information of the land that they harvest. In 2003, the military doctor Jiang Yanyong was detained while he had alerted the foreign media and, by 2020, ophthalmologist Li Wenliang was arrested by the police before being rehabilitated and of dying of the virus. Since 2003, local officials are automatically punished if an epidemic is spreading in their district and that, independently of the situation of health care and regional characteristics : rule counter-productive, which encourages them to deny or minimize the facts which they have knowledge. For a career, a public servant must abide by the precept of chinese " The chief has a headache ", that is to say that it should never be upset with the details and unpleasant truths. Secondly, bureaucratic procedures slow down the flow of information : in January 2003, the report of the medical experts alerting the authorities about the rapid spread of the Sars creeping up slowly the chain of command and was stuck three days in the expectation of a provincial official authorized to read this document " top secret ". Another absurdity : in 2003, the provincial authorities had not the right to make a report about this virus because it was not included in the administrative list of the diseases listed. In both 2003 and 2020, the international experts dispatched on-site have sometimes had to wait over a week to visit the hospitals.
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The opacity and lack of transparency are a third factor of inefficiency : with a national media tightly controlled, a foreign press held at a distance, social networks, spied upon, and NGOS whose members are regularly harassed, persecuted, and put to secret, the Chinese have not been able to be informed at a critical moment, and to adopt the gestures of the barriers that could stop the virus. Fourth, a totalitarian regime is, by definition, not elected and, in the absence of being sanctioned by the vote of the electorate, did not have to worry about public opinion and even less so to ensure the proper application of the standards, in the case the rules of hygiene in markets and food security, in spite of constant warnings of virologists chinese for years. Finally, the fear of displeasing and willingness obsessive leaders praise the regime, are fuelling a culture of the lie is pervasive among civil servants and political leaders who regularly submit wrong figures or outrancièrement disguised. These lies are relayed, sometimes without a critical perspective, by the world health Organization, have deprived the international community of information vital to the adoption of appropriate measures.
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The chinese authorities have not created the virus, but are directly responsible for its spread and its disastrous economic and social effects at the global level. This accursed fruit of totalitarianism is the organic version of Chernobyl. Certainly, the western countries has not contained the epidemic, but there is nothing comparable between the fact to circumscribe a home and extinguish a fire that engulfed the planet. Derogatory, these chinese authorities reduce the democracy and human rights with a disability in decision-making. According to them, democracies are weak, cowardly and weak-willed, because, slaves of public opinion versatile, they do not dare to adopt unpopular rulings that are beneficial to the long-term. Our plan, say the chinese leaders, not for your freedoms. Without them, we are much more effective.
The digital technology in the service of the government
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Why the totalitarianism of the high-tech it is in this case less efficient than liberal democracy ? Because the digital technology, yet at the forefront in this country, is primarily in the service of the government, and primarily with a view to social control. Of course, to stop a virus, this technology can become even more efficient (thermal imaging cameras, tracing, drones, facial recognition, etc) and accelerate the transmission of information by short-circuiting the channels hierarchical. But, this approach of centralization deprives himself of the smart collaboration of the population, in particular that of entrepreneurs accustomed to find solutions in a crisis : get masks, medications, screening tests); place plexiglass in front of the counters, the invention of new reagents for tests, vaccines, software ; find smart alternatives to the confinement generalized, etc The company is not reduced to a mass of people to control. It involves, above all, citizens with a critical intelligence and constructive. And this vast collective intelligence can give birth to solutions to the condition to be able to express themselves freely, including on social networks without fear of reprisal. And averting and disaster epidemic.
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China is the workshop of the world. The current tragedy should encourage democratic countries to réindustrialiser and sanction this regime harmful as long as it refuses to democratize and capitalize on her prodigious intellectual potential. There are nearly two centuries ago, Alexis de Tocqueville had already identified all of the weaknesses of democracy, but he had also diagnosed that this was its weakness – public opinion – was actually its strength. Why, in fine, the democracy always triumphs over his enemies. Hope that his thesis stands up to the weather. Otherwise, we dread the next disaster...
*Corentin de Salle, scientific director of the centre Jean Gol
**Damien Ernst, professor at the university of Liège
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