Scholar-in-residence Doug Bandow and our expert panel discussed The Next Pandemic; China’s Coronavirus. The coronavirus has already infected more than 65,000 people and killed close to 1700. The Australian Government has put in place strict immigration bans, following the USA as the pandemic spreads. On Friday the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a global emergency. According to some scholars, such as Minxin Pei, the outbreak of the new and deadly epidemic is exposing the vulnerabilities of China’s top-down regime. He calls it a disease of Chinese autocracy. Coronavirus, the argument goes, highlights the already low levels of trust in party-state media reporting.
Others disagree, arguing that Beijing has handled the crisis better than anyone had expected compared with two decades ago. After all, Beijing has been more transparent than it was with the SARS epidemic of 2002-03. And in response to the crisis, the regime has locked down cities, cut transport links, and is rapidly building new hospitals and medical facilities.
But what happens if the virus can’t be suppressed? How significant will the economic loss and severe travel restrictions be for China? Has coronavirus changed the political calculus on Australia-China relations? Or are these concerns overblown?
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
Natasha Kassam is a research fellow in the diplomacy and public opinion program at the Lowy Institute.
Sue Windybank is the director of the CIS project on China and free societies.
Vicky Xu is a journalist, a comedian, and a researcher for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Cyber Policy Centre.
Salvatore Babones is an adjunct scholar at CIS and professor of sociology at the University of Sydney. Salvatore will moderate this panel.