Today is a public holiday in Hong Kong. It is Buddha’s birthday, 30 April 2020. The weather was beautiful and there was a holiday atmosphere in the air. Five consecutive days without a new case. The goal is 28 consecutive new-disease-free days. But what strikes me is, are we talking about the same disease? COVID-19?

Hong Kong is part of China and yet it retains unique links with the West. I mentioned in a previous letter that I felt less fear when going shopping in the time of COVID-19 than I did in the time of the 'pro-democracy' riots. Peaceful protests morphed into violent riots. It was a form of urban terrorism and it had the tacit support of both the UK parliament and the US Senate. Is it a coincidence that the UK and the USA have had such a poor record in dealing with the COVID-19?

It is going to be very important to explore the association between politics and public health when dealing with a global pandemic. We have had just over 1000 cases and four deaths. We had no advanced warning (that I know of!) and I am sure there was a lot of what we might euphemistically refer to as international intelligence activity focussed on Hong Kong and China at that time.

Whilst there are demands for transparency from the Chinese leadership this cannot be one-sided. We need to know how and why western governments have failed in order to be able to work together to prepare  for the next global pandemic. Now more than ever we need our contemporaneous records. The value of honesty is never so great as when defining truth.

CONTRIBUTOR
Andrew Burd (Prof)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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