A New word is in circulation: coronise. It an adaptation of colonise to convey the sentiments in the times of coronavirus pandemic. If a person gets novel coronavirus infection, she is stated to have been coronised. Like persons, nations too have coronised.
China played a role in novel coronavirus outbreak turning into a pandemic but it is not China that coronised the world. This was actually achieved by the Europeans who had colonised much of the world in 16th to 18th Century.
By the turn of 2020 New Year, news had broken throughout the world that a mysterious and deadly viral outbreak had happened in China, which dominates the manufacturing economy and supply chain of the world but inspires little trust in data and diplomacy.
Countries knew it was more than severe if it is hitting international headlines. Blockade began in more sceptical countries. Mongolia sealed its over 4,500 km borders with China. North Korea, China’s ally, banned entry of people from China and also Russia in January itself.
India banned inbound passengers from China in first week of February having had three novel coronavirus patients between January 30 and February 3 – all returning from Wuhan, the Chinese city where Covid-19 broke out.
India did not report any further novel coronavirus case through February. China worry had been taken care of. At least, it seemed so. But in this increasingly globalised world China does not exist in China only. It is a global phenomenon.
There is a China in Italy. And, Italy is the Chinese gateway to Europe.
This is the question that many are asking across the world, particularly because Italy sent the index coronavirus patient in about 50 countries. Rest of Europe, primarily France, the UK and Spain – became the source for index coronavirus patients in roughly another 45-50 countries. So, this question is being asked everywhere.
To understand this, one needs to look back a little in history. In the pre-globalised world of cold-war order, Italy was a country of luxury and export of fine fabric. But as the cold-war world found strain in economy, China presented itself as source for cheap labour.
With support from the communist government, Chinese labourers – skilled and unskilled – went to every place where workforce was required. Italy had them in large numbers. But soon Chinese labourers became the source of new-age imperialism.
The Italian owners were replaced by Chinese ones. They sourced raw materials from China, imported equipment from China but worked on the land of Italy. Business was taken over by Chinese and through them China. But the ‘Made In Italy’ label continued.
China’s Bank of China played a key role. Money earned from the Italian market by the Chinese workfore and Chinese manufactures were sent back to China. This angered some right-wing Italians.
Situation came to such a point that fights began, some of which went to courts. Recently, the Bank of China agreed to pay 6 lakh euros to settle a money laundering case.
Italy is a faltering economy today and depends heavily on Chinese aid. It became the first of the G-7 countries that once dominated the economy of the world to join China Belt & Road Initiative despite vehement Opposition from some countries of the western bloc. Even a port of Italy is under Chinese management.
Born in China, Made in Italy?
Business of such scale meant thousands of travels between Italy and China. When India and other countries were blocking the arrival of passengers from China, Italy considered it a “racist” approach misunderstanding the basic scientific law of social distancing.
To counter the “racist” move, one Italian major launched a campaign, “Hug a Chinese” a day. This also meant hugging those coming from Wuhan and other coronavirus-affected places in China. This was happening in the first week of February, by when nearly 400 people had already lost their lives in China.
Italy by then had reported coronavirus outbreak with index patients being a Chinese couple who had returned from Wuhan. The country also suspended flights from China. But hundreds had already arrived in Italy from China. They were not aggressors but victims, and carriers of the deadly virus.
The template was almost the same in the whole of Europe. Cases continued to multiply in Europe where transport flows uninterrupted and without screening. By the time, Europe realised it, the constituent countries had either sent out the index patient to many parts of the world, or shipped virus reinforcement in the countries where Covid-19 had arrived directly from China.
India is one such example. Technically, the index patient in India came from China’s Wuhan. But arrival of the first patient (a Delhi resident) that set off an outbreak happened from Europe.
Since then it is Europe or the Middle East has been the source of vast majority of coronavirus cases in India. India imposed full entry restriction from EU and parts of Middle East only on March 18. America’s case is not very different except the exponential scale.
As it seems on evidence, Europe became an ignorant exporter of novel coronavirus to the world, the source of coronisation of the world. Even a country like Mongolia, which sits just next to China, got its index coronavirus patient from France. It had not banned flight from Europe when it reported its first case of Covid-19 on March 10.
On the other hand, North Korea has not reported any case of Covid-19. It emphasised as such as late as on Thursday. True, not too many people believe what North Korea tells the world. But this is the official position.