Key Words to Understand China: The Fight Against COVID-19
I. Decisions by the Central Leadership
1. Let the Party Flag Fly High on the Front Line of the Anti-Epidemic War.
In China, a Party member is like a flag and a Party branch is like a fortress. On January 27, Xi Jinping instructed letting the Party flag fly high on the front line of the war against the epidemic. Obeying this mobilization order, numerous Party members and officials are inspired to take firm actions on the front line, and resolutely safeguard overall social stability and the well-being of the people.
To let the Party flag fly high on the front line of the war, Party committees at all levels must follow the unified leadership and command and take unified action. They need to enhance their consciousness of maintaining political integrity, thinking in big-picture terms, following the leadership core, and keeping in alignment with the central Party leadership, have confidence in the socialist path, theory, system and culture, and resolutely uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping’s core position on the CPC Central Committee and in the whole Party and uphold the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralized and unified leadership. They must unify their thinking and action with the guidelines of Xi Jinping’s speeches and directives and the meetings of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and with the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee.
It is necessary to give full play to the role of Party branches and the exemplary vanguard role of Party members, and fully implement the central leadership’s general requirement of “being united to take science-based and targeted measures and fight the epidemic with confidence.”
In this grave struggle against the epidemic, Party organizations at all levels and the vast number of Party members and officials must turn their mission of serving the people into firm actions and work diligently on their posts. Only in this way, every Party branch can become a strong fighting fortress and every Party member can become a high-flying Party flag.
2. Leading Officials Must Stand Fast at Post, Command at the Forefront, and Shoulder Their Responsibilities.
Addressing the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on January 25, 2020, Xi Jinping demanded Party and government officials at all levels, especially leading ones, stand fast at their posts and command at the forefront. They must stand the test in the fight against the epidemic, go deep into the front line, give guidance in time, closely monitor the situation and promptly take actions. They must perform their due responsibilities and try their best.
He reiterated the responsibilities of leading Party and government officials at all levels during an inspection of the epidemic prevention work in Beijing on February 10.
This is a mobilization and an order. For leading officials, the severe and complicated battle is a major test of their political quality, their sense of mission and their care of the people. They must take the initiative and play a key role in building up the stronghold at the grassroots level.
To win the nation’s war on the epidemic, prevarication and buck-passing must not be allowed, and those with superficial conduct or dereliction of duty shall be called to account and punished according to the law. Practices have proved that the governance capacity of leading officials is a critical factor to win this war and to effective epidemic control. The officials must have strong capabilities in crisis management, resource distribution, social administration and public relations.
3. Epidemic Control: Directly Affecting People’s Lives and Health, Overall Economic and Social Stability, and China’s Opening Up
At the meeting on February 3, Xi Jinping pointed out that epidemic prevention and control directly affects people’s lives and health, the overall economic and social stability, and China’s opening up to the outside world.
As it directly affects people’s lives, property and health, governments at all levels must spare no pains to save patients, and ensure the supply of medical protective equipment, so as to raise the hospital admission rate and the recovery rate, and lower the infection rate and the case fatality rate. All these are very important to epidemic prevention and control. It is necessary to coordinate personnel deployment, concentrate the best medical workers, put together all severe cases for treatment, and rapidly promote the effective practices of various hospitals in curing severe patients.
As it directly affects the overall economic and social stability, Party committees and governments at all levels must make efforts to achieve the goals and tasks of this year’s economic and social development, and earnestly maintain normal economic and social order. While combating the epidemic, city mayors need to ensure the “vegetable basket” (non-grain food supply) and actively organize production of vegetables and other non-staple foods, efficiently allocate materials and market supply, strive to maintain stability and order in production and life, and guarantee the supply of vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, grain and other daily necessities for residents.
As it directly affects China’s opening up to the outside world, the country need to give priority to the resumption of production and supply by leading enterprises and key links in the global supply chain, in order to maintain stability of the chain. Only when China sets in motion in an orderly manner and Chinese enterprises keep operating smoothly, can the global supply chain remain stable.
4. Racing Against the Clock to Fight the Disease
While presiding over a meeting on February 3, Xi Jinping called for racing against the clock to fight the disease. He demanded all-out efforts to resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic and win the battle against it. This reflects the ruling idea that takes the interests of the people above all else.
Time is crucial for saving lives, and it is vital to race against time to fight the epidemic. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core, Party members and officials charged forward, medical personnel worked non-stop shifts, constructors were heavily occupied day and night to build the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals, and hundreds of millions of Chinese people took actions and formed a powerful fighting force. There is no smoke of gunpowder in this war against the epidemic, but every small victory is the result of fighting courageously against the clock.
Facing such a devil, we must be very brave and use our full strength against it, and not let it hide anywhere. We need to tackle key problems through scientific research, and develop effective vaccines as early as possible. We need to wage a people’s war and fight with solidarity. Leading officials must go deep into the front line, solve prominent problems, and alleviate people’s sufferings, in an effort to promote epidemic prevention and control.
II. Anti-Epidemic Guidelines and Arrangements
1. Ensuring Priority Access of Frontline Medical Workers and Patients
On February 3, at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping underscored coordination among epidemic prevention and control forces among different regions, and demanded concentrating treatment and protective resources on the front line and giving priority to the needs of frontline medical workers and patients.
On February 14, at the meeting of the Commission for Comprehensive Reform under the CPC Central Committee, Xi emphasized the need to get prepared for both peacetime and epidemic time, improve the areas of weakness, improve the medical treatment system for major epidemics, establish a sound graded, multilevel treatment mechanism for infectious diseases and other major epidemic situations, support innovations of frontline clinical technology, and promptly promote effective treatment plans.
On February 23, speaking to the meeting held to coordinate epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development, he called for giving full play to the high-level medical teams where they are most needed: curing severe cases, guiding medical practices, and optimizing treatment plans.
Medical workers are the backbone force in defeating the epidemic. From saving lives in frontline hospitals to conducting research to tackle key problems, from updating the guidelines on diagnosis and treatment, treating the patients with all possible approaches, to continuously raising the recovery rate and lowering the case fatality rate, heartening reports are pouring in from all over the country as more and more patients are cured and discharged from the hospital. A large number of medical workers have built a line of defense and provided professional support for winning the war.
Party committees and governments at all levels have actively taken pragmatic and intimate measures to help medical workers overcome difficulties, solve problems, and eliminate worries: (1) offering them more support in daily life by improving their working and resting conditions, properly arranging off-days in rotation, implementing relevant preferential policies and providing good logistics services; (2) offering them more security assurance by first providing sufficient medical protective materials to frontline medical workers and patients, and punishing illegal acts of hospital violence; and (3) offering them more humanistic care and psychological intervention and counseling, and protecting both their physical and mental health.
2. Empowering Communities to Prevent and Control the Spread of the Coronavirus
When inspecting Beijing’s COVID-19 prevention on February 10, Xi Jinping stressed that the community is the front line of joint prevention and control, and the most effective line of defense to stop the coronavirus from entering and spreading within a region. We can effectively cut off the route of spread if we hold firm the line of defense at the communities. The communities need play their due role, and they should also be empowered to apply various prevention and control measures, so that every community will become a strong bastion defending against the epidemic.
Communities are the nerve endings of urban management. They are also where the administration is relatively weak. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, communities across China have been fully mobilized to conduct door-to-door screening, monitoring of target groups, and detection of suspected cases for timely treatment. A large number of Party members and officials have rushed to the front line and take on resolute actions on a war footing. And this has helped improve their abilities and conduct. Many community workers have visited the families in need to learn about the true situation, which they will never find in report forms and their offices, and in getting the problems solved they have promoted epidemic prevention and control earnestly. And by working with the residents, they build great synergy to win the final victory over the epidemic.
3. Coordinating Epidemic Prevention and Control and Restoration of Economic and Social Order
While presiding over a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on February 12, Xi Jinping called for coordinating epidemic prevention and control and restoration of economic and social order. As China will complete building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects and conclude its 13th Five-year Plan in 2020, Party committees and governments at all levels must strive to minimize the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic, maintain smooth economic operation and social stability, and fulfill the goals and tasks set by the CPC Central Committee. They need to do the following work:
* strengthening macro policy regulation and formulating policies and measures to address epidemic impacts;
* better leveraging a proactive fiscal policy and increasing budgetary input to ensure the funding for epidemic prevention and control in various localities;
* introducing phased and targeted measures of tax cuts and fee reductions to alleviate the operational difficulties of enterprises;
* maintaining a prudent and flexible monetary policy, providing more credit aid with preferential interest rates to enterprises producing anti-epidemic materials, and improving differentiated preferential financial services for the areas, industries and enterprises hard-hit by the epidemic;
* making greater efforts to implement the employment priority policy, and improving the fiscal, taxation, financial and social insurance policies that support small and medium-sized enterprises;
* giving classified guidance for the resumption of work and production of central and state-owned enterprises and other businesses in an orderly manner on the premise of ensuring all epidemic prevention work is done well; and
* taking multiple measures to promote the employment of college graduates and other groups, and ensure overall stability of employment.
On February 23, at the meeting held to make overall arrangements in advancing prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic and getting the economy and society back to normal, Xi Jinping emphasized that Party committees and governments at all levels must have confidence in victory, bite the bullet, and continue to implement prevention and control measures without the slightest slackening. They need to turn pressure into power and turn adversity into opportunities, and restore production and livelihood of the people in an orderly manner. They should work to maintain stability in employment, financial operations, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations, strengthen policy regulation, fully release the great potential and strong momentum of the whole nation, and strive to achieve the goals and tasks set for this year’s economic and social development.
To coordinate the endeavors, the key lies in implementing the decisions and deployments made by the CPC Central Committee. The regions hit hard by the epidemic or regions with high risk of infection should continue to concentrate on epidemic prevention and control; the medium-risk regions should resume work and production in an orderly manner; and the low-risk regions should shift their focus to guard against imported cases from outside, and fully restore local production and livelihood of the people.
4. The War to Defend Wuhan Against the Coronavirus
On February 11, in a video call with the Central Guiding Team and Hubei’s Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter, Xi Jinping ordered to resolutely defend Wuhan and Hubei and win the war against the coronavirus.
If Wuhan wins, Hubei wins. If Hubei wins, the whole country wins. For quite a long time to come, epidemic prevention and control will remain a stalemate, and the epidemic situation in Wuhan and Hubei is very grim. To defeat the virus and protect Wuhan, people must first have a clear understanding of the particularity of the epidemic in the city. Wuhan is where the outbreak first occurred and the city has reported the most cases of infection, and the epidemic is predicted to last longer here and cause more serious damages to Wuhan than other places. Second, people need to have a clear understanding of the uncertainty of the epidemic in Wuhan, as the city has no actual number of its infected people, and the scale of spread is not predictable. Third, they need to have a clear understanding of the weakness in Wuhan’s epidemic prevention and control, as there are still difficulties in definite diagnosis, hospital admission, isolation and daily life support. Besides, there are problems such as passive response to public concerns, indolence in managing social media sentiment, and sluggishness in refuting rumors, all of which have affected the social opinion environment.
5. The War to Defend Hubei Against the Coronavirus
On February 11, in a video call with the Central Guiding Team and Hubei’s Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter, Xi Jinping ordered to resolutely defend Wuhan and Hubei and win the war against the coronavirus.
Wuhan and Hubei are the top priorities for epidemic prevention and control, and they are the decisive places to win the war against the coronavirus. If Wuhan wins, Hubei wins. If Hubei wins, the whole country wins. To secure a victory, no blind spot or loophole shall be allowed in the large network of epidemic prevention and control.
Hubei’s Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters has reiterated the importance of conducting thorough screening to stop the epidemic at its source, and expanding the admission capacity to achieve the goal of “zero infection.” The whole province quickly responded, dispatching a large number of workers to the communities and villages to check the number of patients and hospital beds, and trying the utmost to accelerate detection and isolation of suspected cases and admission and treatment of confirmed cases.
The situation of the whole country will become stabilized if the epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei is put under control. To better render paired-up assistance, various provinces have made meticulous preparations, worked out precise policies, sent medical workers and materials to support every single city of Hubei province. Thanks to close cooperation of dozens of units and combined efforts of construction forces from across the country, the two hospitals – Huoshenshan and Leishenshan – were built in a very short time. The military also ensured effective delivery of medical supplies and personnel and dispatched a large number of medical workers to the forefront. Together they formed a great force in support of Hubei fighting the epidemic.
III. Effective Measures
1. The Scientific Research and Innovation Team Under the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council
Science and technology offers humanity the most powerful weapon to control disease, and scientific development and technological innovation are indispensable in curing diseases and fighting epidemics.
When inspecting relevant scientific R&D programs, Xi Jinping pointed out that there are two battle lines in the war against the coronavirus: epidemic prevention and control, and scientific research and equipment production. He urged the workers on these two battle lines to cooperate and fight side by side.
Following the decision and deployment made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the scientific research and innovation team under the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council (“Scientific Research and Innovation Team” for short) was established on January 20, including members from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the NHC, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the General Administration of Customs, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Medical Products Administration, the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Logistics Support Department of the Central Military Commission and other government departments and agencies. China’s COVID-19 Expert Team, headed by Academician Zhong Nanshan and composed of 14 experts, was also established to organize and lead scientific research faculties across the country to tackle key problems.
In line with the principle of “tracing the infection source, diagnosing the disease, curing the patients, and blocking the virus,” the Scientific Research and Innovation Team has mainly carried out work in four aspects: (1) to determine five major directions of scientific research – clinical treatment, drugs and vaccine research and development, detection technology and products, viral etiology and epidemiology, and animal model construction; (2) to deploy emergency tasks without delay, including launching emergency projects for tackling key scientific and technological problems, organizing cross-disciplinary and cross-domain research teams, carrying out scientific research and emergency R&D by collaborating with provincial and municipal government departments and enterprises; (3) to establish a cooperation mechanism with the medical treatment team to accelerate the application of phased research results in clinical treatment; and (4) to enhance procedure-based management and services, and ensure that scientific research follows the law and relevant regulations.
By the end of February, scientists and researchers across the country had worked together against the clock and started 20 emergency projects in four batches, and phased progress had been made in all major scientific research directions, providing strong support to the nation’s war on the epidemic.
2. Admitting All Suspected and Confirmed Cases for Treatment
Controlling the source and cutting off the route of transmission are the fundamental measures for the prevention and control of infectious diseases. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, Xi Jinping has given instructions on many occasions, demanding all-out efforts to admit all suspected and confirmed cases for treatment, raise the hospital admission rate and the recovery rate, and lower the infection rate and the case fatality rate. Successively, various provinces and cities have adopted measures to comprehensively strengthen patients screening, transferring, hospital admission and treatment.
On January 26, 2020, Wuhan demanded that fever clinics of all hospitals must operate round the clock to admit all confirmed and highly suspected cases, and put them together for treatment. On February 17, Wuhan and other regions in Hubei that were severely hit by the epidemic launched massive dragnet screening of potential virus carriers to get accurate information about the four groups of people (confirmed cases, suspected cases, febrile patients and close contacts).
Various localities have taken effective measures to raise the hospital admission and treatment capability, such as optimizing patient transfer channel, rebuilding and expanding designated hospitals, increasing beds in medical institutions, and improving diagnosis and treatment plans. Effective results have been accomplished. Relevant government departments and institutions have opened online channels to collect information from patients who have difficulties in seeking medical assistance, and help them get into hospitals for treatment as soon as possible.
Admitting all suspected and confirmed cases to hospital is key to thoroughly defeating the epidemic. It echoes the guiding principle of “treating the infected in dedicated facilities by senior medical professionals from all over the country and with all necessary resources,” and has provided a solid guarantee for creating positive effects in epidemic prevention and control.
3. Combined Use of TCM and Western Medicine
Xi Jinping proposed constant improvement of the diagnosis and treatment plans and combined use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held on January 25, 2020.
Traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine are two kinds of medical systems developed under different social and cultural backgrounds, and each has its own advantages in dealing with diseases. Western medicine is better in virus identification, development of relevant drugs and vaccines, and providing life support for critically ill patients. Traditional Chinese medicine has rich and unique experiences in regulating the human body, dialectical therapy, and enhancing resistance to epidemics and diseases. The practice of “combined use of TCM and Western medicine” had achieved good effects during China’s fight against SARS in 2003.
The NHC and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NATCM) jointly issued a notice on February 21, requiring all localities to establish a cooperation mechanism of TCM and Western medicine, apply joint consultation by doctors practicing TCM and Western medicine, and promote in-depth intervention of TCM in the whole process of diagnosis and treatment.
The NATCM has dispatched a group of experts to Wuhan to guide TCM treatment based on syndrome differentiation. The experts also summed up the clinical experience and incorporated the optimized TCM treatment plan into the guidelines on diagnosis and treatment released by the NHC. Various localities have also organized elite TCM forces to assist Wuhan.
By February 21, the NATCM and more than 630 TCM hospitals in 28 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) had sent nearly 3,200 medical staff to support Hubei. More than 60,000 or 85% of the confirmed cases had been treated by TCM nationwide, showing obvious therapeutic effects of combined use of TCM and Western medicine.
By drawing strength from each other and putting them into combined use, TCM and Western medicine are able to jointly maintain public health. It is also one major feature and prominent strength of China’s medical and health system.