The Director-General of the WHO has suggested that China’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis could be the standard of care for global epidemics. However, as remarkable as the Chinese strategy might be, it cannot be replicated in other countries and certainly not in Europe. In Europe, there is a distribution of power between the European Union and its member states. In contrast, China’s political power is concentrated in the central government. This enables it to take immediate measures that affect the entire country, such as massive quarantines or closing borders. Moreover, the Chinese legal framework includes restrictions on privacy and other human rights that are unknown in Europe. In addition, China has the technological power to easily impose such restrictions. In most European countries, that would be science fiction. These conditions have enabled China to combat epidemics like no other country can. However, the WHO might have been overoptimistic. The Chinese standard of care for treating COVID-19 also raises problematic issues for human rights, and the real consequences of these actions remain to be seen.
- health promotion
- legal aspects
- public health ethics
- public policy
This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.https://bmj.com/coronavirus/usage
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Contributors I am the sole author.
Funding This study was funded by Universidade de Macau.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article.
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- Human rights and bioethics
- British American Tobacco’s tactics during China’s accession to the World Trade Organization
- Healthcare for migrant workers in destination countries: a comparative qualitative study of China and Malaysia
- Human rights in pandemics: criminal and punitive approaches to COVID-19
- Ethics briefing
- Decolonising human rights: how intellectual property laws result in unequal access to the COVID-19 vaccine
- Demographic and social correlates and indicators for behavioural compliance with personal protection among Chinese community-dwellers during COVID-19: a cross-sectional study
- Is it unethical to publish data from Chinese transplant research?
- COVID-19 raises a health and human rights imperative to advance a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons
- Pig empire under infectious threat: risk of African swine fever introduction into the People's Republic of China