A People’s War: China and the Coronavirus

China was the first country to confront COVID-19 and appears to be the first to recover. The solidarity and tenacity of the Chinese people were key reasons for the success, writes Harding Loevner Analyst Jingyi Li.

Key Takeaways


  • Often in China’s history, when the nation has faced an existential threat, individual citizens took action to defeat a common enemy and make sacrifices for the common good. The coronavirus pandemic was no different.
  • China’s large-scale lockdown was only possible with the public’s willing compliance with government orders. Even the most authoritarian government imaginable could not force hundreds of millions of people to jail themselves at home.
  • China’s industrial and technological prowess amplified and supported the collective action of the Chinese people. Thousands of independent developers built apps to help the public cope with confinement and prove the value of the “New Economy.”
  • The outbreak’s long-term impact on China will be profound. On the international stage, China has already started offering help to nations swamped by the pandemic, filling a void that is being left by the US’s abdication of its global leadership role.



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