Newswise — A sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University is available to discuss whether China’s hardened domestic authoritarianism and expanded global influence since the 2003 SARS outbreak is helping or hindering the international response to the new coronavirus.

Professor Ho-Fung Hung’s previous research, The Politics of SARS: Containing the Perils of Globalization by More Globalization, explored which response to that outbreak 17 years ago was most effective.

Although more global cooperation among nations comes with the risk of local contagious diseases becoming worldwide outbreaks, Hung found that the best response was to strengthen, not limit, collaboration among governments and international health organizations.

His research found that the “anti-globalist” response by many nations characterized the disease as an “oriental plague” and attempted to contain the outbreak by “curbing the transborder flow of travelers.” That turned out to be “counter-productive,” according to his paper.

A “globalist” response orchestrated by international and national institutions such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “proven to be widely successful,” he said.

“The rapid global spread of SARS, as a peril resulting from the global economic integration, triggered different responses in different parts of the world,” his paper stated. 

Global economic integration today is far greater than in 2003, with the Chinese economy now rivaling the U.S. market. And over those nearly two decades, the Communist Party of China permitted capitalistic methods domestically even as it expanded its authoritarian grip.

Professor Hung can also speak to how the Hong Kong government, embattled by months of massive public protest, would likely respond to prevent an outbreak there. An expert on how the Chinese regime handles crisis, Hung is the author of The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World; Protest with Chinese Characteristics; and China and the Transformation of Global Capitalism.

“Turning back the clock and reversing the process [of globalization] is not realistic,” he wrote in Asian Perspective in 2004. “The only viable way out, as suggested by our experience in the battle against SARS, is to minimize the risks of globalization through more global cooperation as well as through the empowerment of the global institutions that facilitate that cooperation.”

Hung can be reached at [email protected] or through [email protected].




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