In December 2019 the People’s Republic of China came under attack by a health disaster, the Novel Coronavirus, similar or even more deadly, perhaps, to the Ebola outbreak that struck three West African countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea in 2014.
Up to February 4, 2020 when this editorial was compiled, the Cable News Network (CNN) reported 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Two deaths have also occurred in the Philippines and the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong, though reports say the spread of the disease outside of China is still lower.
Apart from loss of human lives, China is experiencing serious economic shock in its stock market, and the authorities, according to CNN, have announced the injection of 1.2 trillion Yuan ($173 billion) into the Chinese markets to help maintain “Reasonable ample liquidity” in the banking system and keep currency markets stable.
As we may recall, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia in 2014 brought our struggling economy to its knees as the world market prices of our basic commodities—rubber and iron ore were already stooped, leaving us in serious economic depression. This premise is just to simulate how catastrophic such a calamity can be as it is the case with China, and how desperate the victims are in terms of help, compassion and sympathy from friends and brethren.
During Liberia’s calamity in 2014, the history remains fresh on the mind that it was China that provided the first US$1 million to Liberia when it (Liberia) was wondering and at a loss as to how and where to get money to address the problem at hand. During the latter part of 2014, China brought in Ebola treatment materials on one of the world largest cargo aircrafts, used them to build a treatment center, and brought in civilian and military doctors like others to help contain the situation.
Besides these interventions during the time of Liberia’s adversity, China has contributed immensely to Liberia’s post-war growth and development. The modern Roberts International Airport Terminal, the ministerial complex that Liberians are occupying and photographing for posts on Facebook, and the annexes of the Capitol Building are just a few of the major projects China has completed for Liberia in recent times.
Officials of this very administration have visited China and reached several agreements; one of which seeks the help of the Chinese Government to build an overhead bridge here.
Not only that, thousands of Liberians are in China on scholarships studying to return to their homeland, though it is another thing translating into beneficial services and goods what they will learn to make a positive impact on their country.
With all these memorable things that China has done, it is so unfortunate that the Government of Liberia will sit supinely and watch the catastrophic disaster facing the Chinese without offering a public expression of sympathy to comfort them. It is clear that Liberia may have virtually nothing in terms of tangible resources to offer the Chinese to address this problem or any other occasion in times of such situations. However, as is customarily done here, friends and neighbors do pass by to express sympathy to bereaved families or a sick person, though they may not have money to offer.
Is the Liberian Government saying that it lacks stationery to write the Chinese Embassy here to offer sympathy and hope for speedy recovery from the health disaster in China, or is it unable to host a press conference or publicly express its sympathy for the Chinese?
Interestingly Liberians claim to know God and are Christians or sympathizers of Christianity. In the Christian Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes 7:2, the wise man said “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” It goes further to say in verse 4, “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth (gladness, laughter).”
The Daily Observer, as one of the media institutions that covered the Ebola crisis extensively and has records of happenings in this country, condemns the government’s silence on the health disaster facing China.
Liberia’s silence on this matter would ring this proverb in the minds of the Chinese: “In times of prosperity our friends know us; in times of adversity we know our friends.” Let the Liberian Government and people, therefore, remember the title of one of Professor Wilton Sankawulo’s folktales: “It Could Be You Too.”