This is a guest post from Ashley Fox, an Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY. who researches the politics of health policy and population health. She can be found on Twitter @ashfoxly.
The draconian social distancing measures utilized to bring China’s outbreak under control that many speculated would not be possible to use effectively in the West are now being undertaken under the threat of a health system tsunami. Moreover, the global economy is in a complete tailspin threatening to tack on a global economic crisis to what is already a public health crisis.
It is now painfully clear that the world collectively underestimated this pathogen and its pandemic potential and that, once again, our containment efforts have been reactive rather than proactive, with deadly consequences. How did an emergent pathogen with a (likely?) 1% case fatality rate manage to bring civilization to its knees in a matter of months? What happened to the lessons learned from SARS, MERS, Ebola, and other recent pandemics that had resulted in promising reforms to pandemic preparedness?
This is a guest post from Matthew B. Flynn, André Pereira Neto, and Letícia Barbosa.
Matthew B. Flynn is an Associate Professor of International Studies and Sociology at Georgia Southern University. His work focuses on pharmaceutical policies in Brazil, the immigration detention complex throughout the world, and the intersections between globalization and global health.
André Pereira Neto is a full professor at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil, where he coordinates the Internet, Health and Society Laboratory (LaISS) and teaches at the graduate program in Information and Communication in Health. Most recently, he co-edited an anthology Internet and Health in Brazil: Trends and Challenges with Matthew B. Flynn.
Letícia Barbosa is a PhD candidate at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. Her thesis aims to identify how health information circulates among breast cancer patients in online and offline settings. She also has experience researching the emergence of the expert patient, online health information and patient empowerment and virtual ethnography in online health communities.
Brazil’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic ranks as the worst of all the countries around the world. This is surprising, especially given its past experiences in fighting infectious disease and in light of the existence of a national public health system, known as the Unified Public Health System, or SUS in Portuguese, that provides public and free health services from preventive care to medical assistance. Why has Brazil fallen so far behind in confronting the novel coronavirus?
Any discussion about Brazil’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic must start with the country’s far-right populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, including his worldview and rise to power amidst increasing political polarization.
This is a guest post from Collin Meisel and Jonathan D. Moyer.
Collin Meisel (Twitter: @collinmeisel) is a Research Associate at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. At Pardee, Collin works with the Diplometrics team to analyze international relations and build long-term bilateral forecasts for topics such as trade, migration, and international governmental organization membership.
Jonathan D. Moyer (Twitter: @moyerjonathan) is Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures. For the last 15 years, Jonathan has used long-term, integrated policy analysis and forecasting methods to inform the strategic planning efforts of governments, international organizations, and corporations around the world, including sponsors such as USAID, the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the UN Development Programme.
As COVID-19 disrupts life the world
over, many of the pandemic’s long-term consequences remain uncertain. However,
using multiple long-term forecast scenarios, one geopolitical consequence is
beginning to come into focus: COVID-19 is accelerating the transition in power between
the U.S. and China. Despite assertions
from political scientist Barry Posen that COVID-19 “is weakening all of the
great and middle powers more or less equally,” economic and mortality
projections suggest that China will see material gains relative to the U.S. that
could translate into broader geopolitical gains.
Quantified in terms of the distribution
of relative material capabilities, China’s forecasted gains are roughly the
magnitude of the current relative global capabilities of Turkey.
do we mean?
Power is a relative concept, always
requiring a comparison of capabilities across at least two actors. For example,
domestic product (GDP) of 254 billion dollars (constant 2010 USD) was more
than ten times the GDP of Afghanistan (21 billion) in 2018. At the same time,
however, Pakistan’s GDP paled in comparison to India, which had a GDP of 2.8
trillion. As such, Pakistan might have held significant economic sway over its
northwestern neighbor while failing to hold a candle to its neighbor to the
southeast. Depending on what you are comparing it to, 254 billion dollars affords
you either a lot or very little in terms of relative material capabilities.
The relative material capabilities that
matter in the international system are multidimensional and stretch across
economic, security, and diplomatic variables. Together, they can be used as a proxy
measure for national power. Power itself is difficult to measure—the fact that
a country wields more capabilities does not necessarily translate into
favorable outcomes all the time; however, it often translates
into favorable outcomes more times than not relative to less powerful opponents.
do models suggest the effect of COVID-19 is on the distribution of material
Using the International Futures
(IFs) integrated assessment model—which has been employed widely to assess
issues of geopolitics,
and the economy—we
constructed scenarios that draw upon the research of others to assess the impact
of COVID-19 on the distribution of power in the international system. Our
analysis compared six simulations of global development using assumptions based
on recent International
Monetary Fund (IMF) growth forecasts—allowing for baseline and faster or
slower economic recovery—and various mortality projections, where the latter
were determined by an extrapolation of current disease case counts.
In particular, we examined the effect of
between 93,000 and 334,000 COVID-19-related deaths for the U.S. in 2020 and
between 20,000 and 80,000 deaths in China. Our baseline scenario, which assumes
40,000 COVID-related deaths in China, is a ten-fold increase from the current
official count. For the U.S., we assume 175,000 COVID-19 deaths through the end
of 2020 as a baseline projection. This is just under double the current
official case count and roughly in line with current projections from
the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which projects between
115,000 and 207,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by August 4, 2020.
The IFs tool’s real GDP growth projections,
shown in the figure above, illustrate that the U.S. (in blue) is expected to take
an outsized hit relative to China (in red). In absolute terms, this results in Chinese
GDP at market exchange rates surpassing the U.S. between one to two years
earlier than previously projected (2025 or 2026 vs. 2027).
Qualitatively, expert opinion regarding
the long-term relative effect of COVID-19 on Chinese economic dominance is mixed.
Still, short-term indicators for certain elements of China’s economy, such as manufacturing,
have begun to show signs of economic recovery while the rest of the world lags
behind. For example, China’s
Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) score—a metric designed to assess the
health of a country’s manufacturing sector, where a score above 50 indicates
expansion while a score below 50 indicates contraction—moved into expansionary
territory in both March (52) and April (50.8) after a severe contractionary dip
(35.7) in February. Meanwhile, the U.S.
PMI score has remained in contractionary territory since March, standing at
49.1 and 41.5 the past two months.
Similar to recent analysis from RAND and prognostications from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, our forecasts also suggest that the U.S. military will see increased budgetary constraints compared with a pre-COVID-19 world. While we forecast that China will see a reduction in military spending relative to pre-COVID projections (a likely prognosis for its Southeast Asian neighbors as well) that are between $13B and $49B each year through 2030 in our worst case scenario, it is less than the worst-case reduction that we forecast for the U.S. (between $58B and $94B each year). For our forecast to play out differently, U.S. military spending as a percent of GDP (hovering just above 3 percent in recent years and higher than China’s projected military spending as a share of GDP across this time horizon) would need to increase significantly.
While the COVID-19 forecasts display differential
impacts on Chinese and U.S. development across other areas as well, these
effects are relatively smaller than those of COVID-19 on the distribution of
economic production and military spending.
happens when these factors are considered together?
It’s worth taking a moment to unpack
this conclusion. The global sum of GDP, military spending, and other gross
measures of material capabilities will continue to grow in the coming decades. Because
relative power is a measure of a country’s share of the global total, our
forecast translates to an absolute gain
in material capabilities for China relative to the U.S. that is even larger than the sum of material
capabilities possessed by Turkey today.
Quantifying some of the core components of
GPI (which comprises 11 subcomponents in total), China’s absolute gains relative
to the U.S. in 2030 in our baseline scenario are equal to an additional: $904B
in GDP; $168B in trade; and $38B in military spending. Such is the cost of
COVID-19 to U.S. power.
For China’s gains in relative power to
be erased in our baseline scenario (displayed above in thick red and blue
lines), its annual growth would need to undershoot currently forecasted values
by roughly 2 percentage points each year for the next decade. In fact, given
that these forecasts do not account for the current shock to the global oil
market—a shock that is likely to harm the net oil-producing U.S. more than the
net oil-consuming China—the hit to Chinese economic growth would likely need to
be even greater for China to not gain power relative to the U.S. post-COVID-19.
The reality is that economic growth is
the primary driver within these scenarios. Thus, even if we were to assume much
higher case count within China—in an earlier analysis we assumed two percent of
each country’s population becomes infected with COVID-19—China would likely see
only somewhat smaller gains (~0.7 percent) in global power relative to the U.S.
does this matter?
Countries with the preponderance of
global material capabilities have been wont to shape the
international order in their image. This was true of the United Kingdom’s
imperialist approach to interstate relations as well as the American-led order
that followed (former Secretary of State Dean Acheson famously reflected that
he was Present at the Creation).
What might a Chinese world order look
like? The WHO’s cold
shoulder to Taiwan and its 24 million citizens during the worst pandemic in
a century provides one relevant anecdote that can help to answer this question.
The Chinese Communist Party’s imprisonment
of over one million Uighurs provides another. On a more positive note,
President Xi Jinping’s recent promise to treat any Chinese-produced COVID-19
vaccine as a “global
public good” presents an air of magnanimity that has recently been
conspicuously absent from the foreign policy of the world’s current hegemon,
Meanwhile, we are already transitioning
to an international system that is characterized by increasingly entrenched
bipolarity. From the perspective of balance-of-power
theorists, this could turn out to be a positive development. Regardless,
China will get its way more moving forward, particularly within its own back
yard. This reality has been a long time coming. From the perspective of future
historians, however, it is likely that “COVID-19 will come to be seen as a
chapter break,” as Robert
Kaplan recently observed.
Does this mean that the Chinese Century will inevitably dawn much sooner and much more abruptly than expected?
Not necessarily. There are many factors that should be considered when broadly assessing the rise of one country relative to another. The U.S. will retain significant advantages in many aspects of international relations that remain difficult to quantify or include in an index of this type (remaining the reserve currency of choice, for example). Additionally, measures like these do not capture network effects, especially the strength of alliance systems. Finally, the relative distribution of material capabilities does not include the quality of their use: governments can squander opportunities or leverage them. Where broad measures of material capabilities are concerned, however, the picture is clear: COVID-19 is closing the gap in relative capabilities for the U.S. and China and accelerating the U.S.-China transition.
This is a guest post from Dr. Joshua R. Moon is a Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, researching biomedical research global health security policy. This post is based upon his PhD research, and further investigation into UN SGM Reports. Josh can also be found via his Research & Twitter
Donald Trump’s withholding of WHO funding,
pending an independent review of WHO’s activities in the COVID-19 pandemic, has
been lambasted around the world (some examples here,
In response, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said
“In due course WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic will be reviewed by
WHO’s Member States and the independent bodies that are in place to ensure
transparency and accountability … This is part of the usual process put in
place by our member states.” This seems to be alluding to the WHO’s IHR Review
Committee, a body which is enshrined in international law and is composed of
On top of this, a
proposal from more than 50 member states at the ongoing 73rd
World Health Assembly calls for “in consultation with Member States, a stepwise
process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using
existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to
review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated
international health response to COVID-19.” This explicitly calls for the use
of an IHR Review Committee in the text of the agenda item. The key questions
are what is this mechanism, how does it work, and how can it provide the
accountability and learning opportunity that Dr. Tedros seems to be referring
This is a guest post
by Jeffrey C. Isaac, James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana
University, Bloomington. You can follow him at his blog at Democracy
in Dark Times.
The coronavirus has thrown the entire world into a
terrifying crisis that challenges public health and the very possibility of
normal social interaction.
If ever there were a time when scholarly research and relevant
knowledge were needed, it is now. Public officials and journalists have
clamored for new scientific and medical research, and universities and
university-based scholars have answered the call.
And yet, while our situation presents not simply a crisis of
public health but a crisis of publiclife itself, the demand for relevant scientific
knowledge is strangely silent about the contributions of political science.
sometimes has a way of rearing its ugly head repeatedly. The COVID-19 pandemic
is something few people have ever seen, but it is not new in history. Neither
is the fragmented nor uneven and missing policy responses to it. How political
leaders respond during the initial stages of pandemics can affect their trajectory
political science, public health, and government agencies shows that political
leadership at the executive level generally serves three critical functions in combatting
pandemics: mitigating risk, framing the collective problem, and providing
direction and purpose for a plan to battle the virus.
This is a guest post from Erik Dahl, an associate professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and the author of Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond (Georgetown, 2013). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Naval Postgraduate School or the U.S. Department of Defense.
As many parts of the United States begin to slowly reopen
amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, there are increasing calls
in Congress and from emergency
management experts for a national commission to examine how well we were
prepared for, and responded to, the global crisis. Congressional committees are
beginning to hold hearings about the pandemic, including testimony expected soon
Dr. Anthony Fauci, and pressure will likely build for a more extensive
investigation. Supporters argue that a commission is needed in the same way national
investigations in the wake of Pearl
Harbor and 9/11
helped us understand how those disasters could have happened.
Just as with those previous cases, such an effort will be
needed eventually to help the country heal from the current crisis. But history
suggests it is too early now to begin that process, because early efforts to investigate
national calamities tend to produce more heat than light.
This is a guest post from Suparna Chaudhry, incoming Assistant Professor of International Affairs at Lewis & Clark College. Her research focuses on human rights, international law, and political violence, with a focus on state persecution of NGOs. She can be found on Twitter @SuparnaChaudhry.
While the latest announcement relaxed movement restrictions in districts relatively unscathed by Covid-19, a large part of the population, including all major cities, remain in the severely-hit red zones under complete lockdown. What have been the effects of the lockdown? What role have non-state actors played, in particular non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in Covid-19 containment and relief efforts? What challenges do these groups face from the state and how might the pandemic influence state-NGO dynamics?
This is a guest post from Paul Johnson, who is an operations research analyst with the US Army. His personal research ranges on topics from political violence and militias to security force loyalty and design. The views expressed here do not represent the perspective of the US Army or Department of Defense.
Given this forum’s focus as an outlet helping bridge the
gap, this post discusses ways that academics working on national
security-related topics can make themselves and their work more accessible to
potential end-users, as seen and experienced from the author’s perspective as a
A Wide Variety of
Previous articles on this topic (e.g., see here
and here) have pointed out a
variety of contributions that scholars can make to applied work, including:
which provides an idea of how to view an emerging event or string of events,
helping users “see the forest for the trees.”
From an analytical perspective, being able to point to a solid body of
social-science literature backing up a framework — especially a literature with
fairly settled empirical findings — increases the credibility of that
framework for application to real-world problems.
which may be quantitative or qualitative.
Publically accessible social science datasets often find their way into analytical
usage in national-security settings as the best available data on a topic of
interest. Similarly, the perspective of area
specialists, also known as subject matter experts (or “smees”), on a given
country or set of countries can provide highly valued information.
which can be as simple as a most-likely-outcome statement. Bonus points for willingness to take a stab
at a probability point-estimate for that statement, and more points for being
explicit about uncertainty.
about what to do in a given real-world situation. Since most empirical scholars focus on
establishing ceteris-paribus relationships across a large number of cases, practicing
applying that work to a specific case usually requires a bit of a mindset shift,
but adopting that mindset is necessary for any applied work.
methodology, which finds its way into applied work through a variety of
means. Some of these means include PhD students being hired into federal
government, ongoing professionalization for current civil-servant analysts, and
academics working as government contractors or other forms of participation on
a per-project basis.
COVID-19 in South Africa has followed a trajectory atypical of any other nation. For speculated but still uncertain reasons the country managed to flatten its curve dramatically, with one of the world’s strictest lockdowns likely to have played a major role. This included no freedom of movement for exercise, no sales of alcohol, cigarettes or hot prepared food, a ban on travel for funerals, a requirement for all businesses to register and be approved for a permit to operate as an essential service, police roadblocks checking for permits and the illicit transport of unauthorised goods, and more. The disease continues to spread, but slowly and without throwing the nation’s health care system into crisis.
However, the slowed course of the pandemic and severity of the lockdown have amplified pre-existing stresses arising primarily from the staggering level of inequality that has, in fact, worsened since the end of apartheid 26 years ago. Most prominent among these stresses has been a crisis of hunger.
This is a guest post from Sean D. Ehrlich, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Florida State University who researches international and comparative political economy, trade policy, and democratic institutions. His first book, Access Points, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011 and his second book, The Politics of Fair Trade, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He can be found on Twitter @SeanDEhrlich.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the European Union, the EU itself has been relatively inactive, leaving it up to the member states to address the medical crisis and its economic and social consequences. Largely, this is by design, as public health issues were intentionally left to national discretion.
Where the EU has taken action, it has been limited and
technocratic such as pooling money for joint ventilator
purchases and funding vaccine research cross-nationally. The one exception has
been the European Central Bank, which has taken major steps by
injecting over €750 billion into the economy through quantitative easing to
support the region’s economies.
Otherwise, what the EU has not done is offer any European-wide fiscal stimulus or aid for countries that implement their own policies. While the EU does not have ready mechanisms to do much of this, they do have tools like the European Stabilization Mechanism (ESM) to lend money to countries that have increasing debt which was developed to address the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis that started in 2008. However, though negotiations are ongoing and a preliminary deal has been struck, the members of the EU have yet to agree on a final plan to use the ESM.
As a US scholar on research leave in Manila, I’ve been following the COVID-19 response in both the Philippines and the United States closely. I was bemused last weekend reading headlines about anti-quarantine protestors in several US state capitals, and the outrage geared at (what I presume to be) mostly Trump supporters in risking the further spread of the coronavirus.
Having experienced a different reality here, I’ve pondered the pros and cons of stricter quarantine enforcement as we have seen in the Philippines. Would either country envisage the imposition of martial law, a growing concern among some in Manila as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) boost their presence?
This is a guest post from Emily Meierding, who is an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Her book, The Oil Wars Myth: Petroleum and the Causes of International Conflict, has just been published by Cornell University Press. The views expressed here do not represent the perspective of the US Navy or Department of Defense.
The global oil market has entered uncharted territory. On
Monday, the price of WTI crude, the US oil benchmark, went negative for the
first time in history, closing at -$37 per barrel.
What happened? And what does it mean for international petroleum politics?
Two factors drove the oil price collapse: market
fundamentals and the quirks of oil futures trading.
Market fundamentals—oil supply and demand—were the proximate
cause of the price collapse. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this
year, global oil demand has dropped by twenty to thirty percent. In the United
States, consumption of petroleum productions has fallen thirty-one
percent since January.
The effects of COVID-19 are invariably exacerbated by
existing inequalities; those already in crisis on the margins of (global) society,
whether as a result of wars, colonial legacies or current economic priorities,
are disproportionally dying. We can see this clearly in the first sets of
disaggregated data coming out of the US/ UK – already underprivileged regions,
classes, races, especially when these intersect with age, are disproportionally
This is a guest post from Jiun Bang, PhD (University of Southern
California, political science and international relations), currently a
visiting scholar at the Korean Studies Institute at USC.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, cities have been
making the news, from the harrowing daily struggles of New York City with COVID-19
to President Trump’s erroneous
estimate of Seoul’s population of ‘38 million’ [more like just shy of 10
million]. I happened to listen to Dr. Robert T. Yanagisawa, MD
and Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and
Co-Director of the Mount Sinai Global Health Program in Japan, talk about the
bond between New York City and Tohoku (Japan) based on the ‘9/11 to
3/11 Survivor Exchange Program,’ which references the attacks
of September 11, 2011 and the Fukushima disaster of March 11, 2011. According to Dr. Yanagisawa, there are plans
by Japanese medical students to send N95 medical masks to Mount Sinai hospital
in New York.
All this got me thinking about the concept of paradiplomacy:
diplomacy by sub-state political units, including cities. As a big fan of
diplomacy and one who often laments the lack of appreciation for both the
practice and discourse of diplomacy by mainstream IR, I thought I would introduce
paradiplomacy—especially between cities—and its potential applications for the
ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a guest post from Eric Van Rythoven (PhD) who teaches International Relations and Foreign Policy at Carleton University, Canada. His work has been published in Security Dialogue, European Journal of International Relations, and Journal of Global Security Studies, among others. He is the editor (with Mira Sucharov) of Methodology and Emotion in International Politics: Parsing the Passions (Routledge, 2019).
around the world grapple with the Covid-19 crisis several are reaching for the
metaphor of war to convey the urgency and gravity surrounding the
There are obvious
advantages to this strategy.
Historically, the language of war has functioned as a powerful mechanism
for collective mobilization and emergency action. It can suspend partisanship, free government
agencies of burdensome rules, and activate extraordinary powers on behalf of
the executive. Even more, it can revive
memories of shared sacrifice—as in World War 2—which can serve as inspiration
and even comfort in uncertain times.
Disease outbreaks are as much a social phenomenon as a biological one. Rumor, innuendo, and public sentiment drive disease transmission dynamics. Covid-19 is no different; the fact checking website, Snopes.com, has a dedicated “covid-19” tag to run the equivalent of public health containment and mitigation on misinformation.
Drawing lessons from the 2013-16 West
Africa Ebola epidemic, we already see health authorities trying to balance
centralized mechanisms to promote consistent and high quality messaging with
decentralized programmatic communication that is flexible and adaptable to
local needs, as Gillespie and colleagues recommended post-Ebola.
National governments and corporate partners have also launched digital messaging services including in India, Kenya, and South Africa. These messaging services, and similar web platforms the US CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker, convey consistent and vetted health information intended to inform citizens and empower healthy decisions.
Next phase in pandemic response
Anticipating the next step in the
COVID-19 response, digital health companies are launching consumer-facing
COVID-19 messaging for specific populations. One company that I co-founded in
2016, Nivi, began to develop messaging after noticing
an uptick of in-bound questions from its users.
a guest post from Peter
Verovšek, a Lecturer (Assistant
Professor) in Politics/International Relations at the University of Sheffield
The Coronavirus has turned us all into amateur
desire for greater understanding makes sense in the face of a threat as novel
and as dangerous as COVID-19. The shutdown of massive sections of the economy
and state-mandated orders to engage in social – or, more accurately, physical
– distancing has left the majority of us stuck at home, wondering when things
will go back to normal and worrying that they never will.
As a result of this uncertainty, we are all breathlessly
reading scientific reports on pandemics, such as the paper from Imperial College
London, which serves as the scientific basis for government policy in the UK.
Previously obscure experts on viral pandemics, such as Neil M. Ferguson and Nicholas A. Christakis, have
built massive followings on Twitter almost overnight.
Clearly experts have an important role to play in combatting
the novel Coronavirus by advising governments, informing citizens, and
conducting the basic scientific research necessary to address the crisis in
real time. In the words of Michel Foucault, these “specific
intellectuals” are supposed “to pose problems, to make them active, to
display them in such a complexity that they can silence the prophets and
lawgivers” by making the
severity of the crisis clear.
However, in addition
epidemiologists and scholars of public health, many other researchers –
including many political scientists and philosophers – have also sought to cope
with the current situation by putting their thoughts down on paper (myself
obviously included). In and of itself this is not a bad thing.
This is a guest post from Karen A. Grépin, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong
As cases of COVID-19 soar globally, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan
have garnered accolades from the international community for having kept their
epidemics relatively under control through mid-March – despite the incredible
threat they all faced earlier in the year of imported cases from China. With
all of the praise flowing to Hong Kong, one might expect citizens to also have
good things to say about their government’s handling of the outbreak – but you
would be wrong.
In fact, according to data from a recent public opinion poll (20
March 2020) conducted by the independent Hong Kong Public Opinion Research
Institute (HKPORI) only a quarter of Hong Kongers are satisfied with the way
that government has handled COVID-19.
While this represents an improvement in support since an earlier poll (14
February 2020) found that only 7% of survey respondents supported the
government – an all-time low – it is clear that people here are not enthusiastic
about the way government is handling the outbreak.
So, why are Hong Kongers so dissatisfied? One thing that is clear, the seven months of
violent protests that ravaged this city in the lead up to the outbreak undermined
overall support of the government. But this is unlikely to explain all of the
dissatisfaction: support for the government actually declined in February
relative to January, even after the protests had largely quieted down.