Category Archives: Europe

EU admitted “American-led system” nears its end

European Union looks towards Asia to preserve its interests in the 21st century

EU admitted “American-led system” nears its end

“This comes as the U.S. is approaching 2 million cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. Earlier this month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 14.7% with the Federal Reserve estimating it could reach a high of 25%. Pre-coronavirus data found that 29.9% of Americans live close to poverty while 5.3% of the population live in deep poverty and 11.1% of American households, were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all people within the house.”

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European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes.” He said that the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst to shift power from West to East and that “pressure to choose sides is growing”  for the EU, before adding that the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalised by one or the other.”

Borrell said “we only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline,” noting that an upcoming EU-China summit this autumn could be an opportunity to do so. “We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia.”

As China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Russia will become some of the world’s biggest economies by 2030, according to Standard Chartered Plc, the 21st century is known as the “Asian Century.”  So, the EU has a serious decision to make on whether to continue its hostile approach towards Russia if it wishes to have more straight forward trade access to Asia. Putin has made incentives for colonists to populate the Far East of Russia to boost its small population of under seven million people who live close to China to fully and better engage in the “Asian Century.”

European trade with Asia could be done through the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian transportation routes, and this would also bypass China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Macron last year made a Facebook post where he said “progress on many political and economic issues is evident, for we’re trying to develop Franco-Russian relations. I’m convinced that, in this multilateral restructuring, we must develop a security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia.” With Macron emphasizing a European-Russian rapprochement, he then expanded on General de Gaulle’s famous quote that Europe stretches “from Lisbon to the Urals,” by saying that Europe reaches Vladivostok which is near the Chinese and North Korean border.

According to experts China’s foreign investment in the advanced development zone accounts for about 59.1% of all foreign investments in the region. The Russian Far East has a huge investment potential, especially with materials, natural resources, fisheries, and tourism, and China aims to take advantage of the mostly underdeveloped region. The region is not only resource rich, but is strategically located as it borders China, Mongolia and North Korea, and has a maritime border with Japan.

With France’s recognition of Vladivostok and Borrell now acknowledging that the power centers of the world are shifting to the East, the EU has little choice but to make a rapprochement with Russia and end its sanctions regime. In addition, it would be in the EU’s interests not to engage in anti-China actions on behalf of the U.S.

China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that it has not only recovered and restarted its economy, but that it engages in large-scale soft power projections by delivering tons upon tons of medical aid to every region in the world and has sent doctors and nurses to the most affected countries. This comes as the U.S. is approaching 2 million cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. Earlier this month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 14.7% with the Federal Reserve estimating it could reach a high of 25%. Pre-coronavirus data found that 29.9% of Americans live close to poverty while 5.3% of the population live in deep poverty and 11.1% of American households, were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all people within the house. Despite the growing social and domestic problems in the U.S., it is unlikely that Washington will give up its global hegemony so easily.

But Borrell seems to have little confidence that the U.S. will maintain its global leadership and is now eyeing China and the East as the EU’s new main trading partner. Effectively, as the Anglo World attempts to maintain the Atlanticist dominance, the EU is recognizing that its future lies with Eurasia.

Europe is abandoning Trump on the world stage as it turns away from the US toward China

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has triggered global criticism. 
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Analysis banner
  • Recent polling suggests Europeans are turning away from the US under President Donald Trump’s leadership.
  • Public opinion toward America has declined in major European countries since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Seventy-six percent of Germans in a new poll said their view of America had deteriorated because of the crisis.
  • Roughly equal numbers of Germans in the poll favored maintaining close relationships with China and the US in a head-to-head matchup.
  • One poll last week found that just 2% of French people trusted Trump to provide world leadership.
  • China is exerting growing political, diplomatic, and financial power across Europe.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump is presiding over the deterioration of the US’s position on the world stage as European countries increasingly look toward China as a future global leader.

This shift is apparent in a series of recent opinion polls that found European sentiment toward the US to be in decline since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

New polling published in Germany this week found that an overwhelming majority of Germans said they had a worse opinion of the US because of the pandemic.

The survey found that 76% of Germans said their view of the US had deteriorated because of the pandemic, compared with 36% who said the same of China.

The poll found:

  • Germans were largely split when asked whether they favored maintaining close relations with China or the US.
  • 37% of Germans said it was more important to maintain close relations with the US, compared to 36% who said the same of China.
  • That was a big drop from a poll last year, when 50% of Germans said maintaining US relations was the priority, compared with just 24% who said China.
  • In a separate question, just 10% of Germans saw the US as the country’s most important global partner, down from 19% last year. Six percent said the same of China, down 1 percentage point from the year before.

Separate polling conducted in the UK also found a deterioration in Britain’s view of the US since the pandemic began.

Asked at the end of last month whether Britain should forge a stronger relationship with Europe or with the US, 35% of Brits told the pollsters YouGov that Europe should be the priority, compared with just 13% who said the US.

That’s a net shift of 6 percentage points toward Europe since early November and came despite Britain’s exit from the European Union in January.

The shift comes amid global shock about recent interventions by President Donald Trump on the coronavirus pandemic.

The president’s comments speculating that disinfectant might be used to treat coronavirus patients caused widespread disbelief and horror in many European countries.

“Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger,” the Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole wrote last month in response to Trump’s comments.

“But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.”

Reports that Trump had attempted to buy exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine being developed in Germany also triggered anger on the continent.

Trump’s behavior has highlighted already widespread negative feelings in Europe toward the president, with one survey last week finding that just 2% of French people trusted Trump to lead the world.

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Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

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China has learned from its own rich history and is applying those lessons to re-emerge as a major 21st-century power
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass, a famed Ming Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City, during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province, August 20, 2019. Photo: Facebook

With hybrid warfare 2.0 against China reaching fever pitch, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, will continue to be demonized 24/7 as the proverbial evil communist plot for economic and geopolitical domination of the “free” world, boosted by a sinister disinformation campaign.

It’s idle to discuss with simpletons. In the interest of an informed debate, what matters is to find the deeper roots of Beijing’s strategy – what the Chinese learned from their own rich history and how they are applying these lessons as a re-emerging major power in the young 21st century.

Let’s start with how East and West used to position themselves at the center of the world.

The first Chinese historic-geographic encyclopedia, the 2nd century B.C. Classic of the Mountains and the Seas, tells us the world was what was under the sun (tienhia). Composed of “mountains and seas” (shanhai), the world was laid out between “four seas” (shihai). There’s only one thing that does not change: the center. And its name is “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo), that is, China.

Of course, the Europeans, in the 16th century, discovering that the earth was round, turned Chinese centrality upside down. But actually not that much (see, for instance, this 21st-century Sinocentric map published in 2013).

The principle of a huge continent surrounded by seas, the “exterior ocean,” seems to have derived from Buddhist cosmology, in which the world is described as a “four-petal lotus.” But the Sinocentric spirit was powerful enough to discard and prevail over every cosmogony that might have contradicted it, such as the Buddhist, which placed India at the center.

Now compare Ancient Greece. Its center, based on reconstituted maps by Hippocrates and Herodotus, is a composite in the Aegean Sea, featuring the Delphi-Delos-Ionia triad. The major split between East and West goes back to the Roman empire in the 3rd century. And it starts with Diocletian, who made it all about geopolitics.

Here’s the sequence: In 293, he installs a tetrarchy, with two Augustuses and two Caesars, and four prefectures. Maximian Augustus is charged to defend the West (Occidens), with the “prefecture of Italy” having Milan as capital. Diocletian charges himself to defend the East (Oriens), with the “prefecture of Orient” having Nicomedia as capital.

Political religion is added to this new politico-military complex. Diocletian starts the Christian dioceses (dioikesis, in Greek, after his name), twelve in total. There is already a diocese of the Orient – basically the Levant and northern Egypt.

There’s no diocese of the Occident. But there is a diocese of Asia: basically the Western part of Mediterranean Turkey nowadays, heir to the ancient Roman provinces in Asia. That’s quite interesting: the Orient is placed east of Asia.

The historical center, Rome, is just a symbol. There’s no more center; in fact, the center is slouching towards the Orient. Nicomedia, Diocletian’s capital, is quickly replaced by neighbor Byzantium under Constantine and rechristened as Constantinople: he wants to turn it into “the new Rome.”

When the Western Roman Empire falls in 476, the empire of the Orient remains.

Officially, it will become the Byzantine empire only in the year 732, while the Holy Roman Empire – which, as we know, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – resurrects with Charlemagne in 800. From Charlemagne onwards, the Occident regards itself as “Europe,” and vice-versa: the historical center and the engine of this vast geographical space, which will eventually reach and incorporate the Americas.

Superstar admiral

We’re still immersed in a – literally – oceanic debate among historians about the myriad reasons and the context that led everyone and his neighbor to frenetically take to the seas starting in the late 15th century – from Columbus and Vasco da Gama to Magellan.

But the West usually forgets about the true pioneer: iconic Admiral Zheng He, original name Ma He, a eunuch and Muslim Hui from Yunnan province.

His father and grandfather had been pilgrims to Mecca. Zheng He grew up speaking Mandarin and Arabic and learning a lot about geography. When he was 13, he was placed in the house of a Ming prince, Zhu Di, a member of the new dynasty that came to power in 1387.

Educated as a diplomat and warrior, Zheng He converted to Buddhism under his new name, although he always remained faithful to Islam. After all, as I saw for myself when I visited Hui communities in 1997 when branching out from the Silk Road, on my way to Labrang monastery in Xiahe, Hui Islam is a fascinating syncretism incorporating Buddhism, the Tao, and Confucianism.

Zhu Di brought down the Emperor in 1402 and took the name Yong Le. A year later he had already commissioned Zheng He as admiral, and ordered him to supervise the construction of a large fleet to explore the seas around China. Or, to be more precise, the “Occidental ocean” (Xiyang): that is, the Indian Ocean.

Thus from 1405 to 1433, roughly three decades, Zheng He led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, leaving from Nanjing in the Yangtze and benefiting from monsoon winds. They hit Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah/Mecca, Mogadiscio and the Eastern African coast south of the Equator.

Those were real armadas, sometimes with over 200 ships, including the 72 main ones, carrying as many as 30,000 men and vast amounts of precious merchandise for trade: silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, leather products, iron utensils. The leading vessel of the first expedition, with Zheng He as captain, was 140 meters long, 50 meters wide and carrying over 500 men.

This was the original Maritime Silk Road, now revived in the 21st century. And it was coupled with another extension of the overland Silk Road: after all the dreaded Mongols were in retreat, there were new allies all the way to Transoxiana, the Chinese managed to strike a peace deal with the successor of Tamerlane. So the Silk Roads were booming again. The Ming court sent diplomats all over Asia – Tibet, Nepal, Bengal, even Japan.

The main objective of pioneering Chinese seafaring has always puzzled Western historians. Essentially, it was a diplomatic, commercial, and military mix. It was important to have Chinese suzerainty recognized – and materialized via the payment of a tribute. But most of all this was about trade; no wonder the ships had special cabins for merchants.

The armada was designated as the Treasury Fleet – but denoting more a prestige operation than a vehicle for capturing riches. Yong Le was strong on soft power and economics – as he took control of overseas trade by imposing an imperial monopoly over all transactions. So, in the end, this was a clever, comprehensive application of the Chinese tributary system – in the commercial, diplomatic and cultural spheres.

Yong Le was in fact following the instructions of his predecessor Hongwu, the founder of the Ming (“Lights”) dynasty. Legend rules that Hongwu ordered that one billion trees should be planted in the Nanjing region to supply the building of a navy.

Then there was the transfer of the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, and the construction of the Forbidden City. That cost a lot of money. As much as the naval expeditions were expensive, their profits, of course, were useful.

Yong Le wanted to establish Chinese – and pan-Asian – stability via a true Pax Sinica. That was not imposed by force but rather by diplomacy, coupled with a subtle demonstration of power. The Armada was the aircraft carrier of the time, with cannons on sight – but rarely used – and practicing “freedom of navigation”.

What the emperor wanted was allied local rulers, and for that he used intrigue and commerce rather than shock and awe via battles and massacres. For instance, Zheng He proclaimed Chinese suzerainty over Sumatra, Cochin, and Ceylon. He privileged equitable commerce. So this was never a colonization process.

On the contrary: before each expedition, as its planning proceeded, emissaries from countries to be visited were invited to the Ming court and treated, well, royally.

Plundering Europeans

Now compare that with the European colonization led a decade later by the Portuguese across these same lands and these same seas. Between (a little) carrot and (a lot of) stick, the Europeans drove commerce mostly via massacres and forced conversions. Trading posts were soon turned into forts and military installations, something that Zheng He’s expeditions never attempted.

In fact, Zheng He left so many good memories that he was divinized under his Chinese name, San Bao, which means “Three Treasures,” in such places in Southeast Asia as Malacca and Siam’s Ayutthaya.

What can only be described as Judeo-Christian sadomasochism focused on imposing suffering as virtue, the only path to reach Paradise. Zheng He would never have considered that his sailors – and the populations he made contact with – had to pay this price.

So why did it all end, and so suddenly? Essentially Yong Le run out of money because of his grandiose imperial adventures. The Grand Canal – linking the Yellow River and the Yangtze basins – cost a fortune. Same for building the Forbidden City. The revenue from the expeditions was not enough.

And just as the Forbidden City was inaugurated, it caught fire in May 1421. Bad omen. According to tradition, this means disharmony between Heaven and the sovereign, a development outside of the astral norm. Confucians used it to blame the eunuch councilors, very close to the merchants and the cosmopolitan elites around the emperor. On top of it, the southern borders were restless and the Mongol threat never really went away.

The new Ming emperor, Zhu Gaozhi, laid down the law: “China’s territory produces all goods in abundance; so why should we buy abroad trinkets without any interest?”

His successor Zhu Zanji was even more radical. Up to 1452, a series of imperial edicts prohibited foreign trade and overseas travel. Every infraction was considered piracy punished by death. Worse, studying foreign languages was banished, as was the teaching of Chinese to foreigners.

Zheng He died (in early 1433? 1435?) in true character, in the middle of the sea, north of Java, as he was returning from the seventh, and last, expedition. The documents and the charts used for the expeditions were destroyed, as well as the ships.

So the Ming ditched naval power and re-embraced old agrarian Confucianism, which privileges agriculture over trade, the earth over the seas, and the center over foreign lands.

No more naval retreat

The takeaway is that the formidable naval tributary system put in place by Yong Le and Zheng He was a victim of excess – too much state spending, peasant turbulence – as well as its own success.

In less than a century, from the Zheng He expeditions to the Ming retreat, this turned out to be a massive game-changer in history and geopolitics, prefiguring what would happen immediately afterwards in the long 16th century: the era when Europe started and eventually managed to rule the world.

One image is stark. While Zheng He’s lieutenants were sailing the eastern coast of Africa all the way to the south, in 1433, the Portuguese expeditions were just starting their adventures in the Atlantic, also sailing south, little by little, along the Western coast of Africa. The mythical Cape Bojador was conquered in 1434.

After the seven Ming expeditions crisscrossed Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean from 1403 for nearly three decades, only half a century later Bartolomeu Dias would conquer the Cape of Good Hope, in 1488, and Vasco da Gama would arrive in Goa in 1498.

Imagine a historical “what if?”: the Chinese and the Portuguese bumping into each other in Swahili land. After all, in 1417 it was the turn of Hong Bao, the Muslim eunuch who was Zheng He’s lieutenant; and in 1498 it was Vasco da Gama’s turn, guided by the “Lion of the Sea” Ibn Majid, his legendary Arab master navigator.

The Ming were not obsessed with gold and spices. For them, trade should be based on equitable exchange, under the framework of the tribute. As Joseph Needham conclusively proved in works such as Science and Civilization in China, the Europeans wanted Asian products way more than Orientals wanted European products, “and the only way to pay for them was gold.”

For the Portuguese, the “discovered” lands were all potential colonization territory. And for that the few colonizers needed slaves. For the Chinese, slavery amounted to domestic chores at best. For the Europeans, it was all about the massive exploitation of a workforce in the fields and in mines, especially concerning black populations in Africa.

In Asia, in contrast to Chinese diplomacy, the Europeans went for massacre. Via torture and mutilations, Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese colonizers deployed a real war of terror against civilian populations.

This absolutely major structural difference is at the root of the world- system and the geo-historical organization of our world, as analyzed by crack geographers such as Christian Grataloup and Paul Pelletier.  Asian nations did not have to manage – or to suffer – the painful repercussions of slavery.

So in the space of only a few decades, the Chinese abdicated from closer relations with Southeast Asia, India, and Eastern Africa. The Ming fleet was destroyed. China abandoned overseas trade and retreated unto itself to focus on agriculture.

Once again: the direct connection between the Chinese naval retreat and the European colonial expansion is capable of explaining the development process of the two “worlds” – the West and the Chinese center – since the 15th century.

At the end of the 15th century, there were no Chinese architects left capable of building large ships. Development of weaponry also had been abandoned. In just a few decades, crucially, the Sinified world lost its vast technological advance over the West. It got weaker. And later it would pay a huge price, symbolized in the Chinese unconsciousness by the “century of humiliation.”

All of the above explains quite a few things. How Xi Jinping and the current leadership did their homework. Why China won’t pull a Ming remix and retreat again. Why and how the overland Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road are being revived. How there won’t be any more humiliations. And most of all, why the West – especially the American empire – absolutely refuses to admit the new course of history.

‘Striking’ evidence emerges that TB vaccine may be effective against Covid-19 — countries that use it have TEN TIMES fewer cases

From data gathered over 15 days of the current pandemic, incidence of Covid-19 was 38.4/million in countries with BCG vaccination compared to 358.4/million in countries without. The mortality rate was 4.28/million in countries with BCG programs compared to 40/million in countries without such a program.
RT.com
By Peter Andrews, Irish science journalist and writer based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in genetics.
‘Striking’ evidence emerges that TB vaccine may be effective against Covid-19 — countries that use it have TEN TIMES fewer cases
The world may not have to wait 12 to 18 months for a Covid-19 vaccine — scientists hope a TB shot can be adapted to fight it much more quickly. But the research so far is based on statistics, and clinical trials are still needed.

Exciting new findings suggest that the cure for the coronavirus may have been under our noses all this time. Evidence is emerging that the commonly used BCG vaccine appears to be protective against Covid-19.

Bacillus Calmette–Guérin, or BCG vaccine, is commonly used to inoculate against tuberculosis (TB). It works by delivering a boost to the immune system cells in the bone marrow, which are then released and respond to all sorts of pathogens. That helps to protect against TB, but also a host of other diseases. It is used to treat measles, malaria, bladder cancer, and it also decreases respiratory infections in older people. This general protective effect of BCG prompted the scientists to investigate whether it might work for Covid-19 as well.

And in a preprint paper that has been submitted for publication to major scientific journals, but is available for download here, scientists have found ‘’striking’’ evidence suggesting that the BCG could be co-opted for use against Covid-19. Whether a country has a BCG vaccination programme or not appears to correlate with how many Covid-19 cases they have.

Nothing seems to work

Different countries have taken drastically different approaches to the coronavirus pandemic. But there appears to be no discernable pattern across countries depending on the measures they have taken to control the virus. From Big Data-enabled lockdowns in East Asia to a laissez-faire policy in Sweden, the infected and mortality figures do not seem to correlate with the measures at all.

But at last one correlation has emerged: countries with BCG vaccination programmes are having fewer cases than those without. In this study, 178 countries were included, of which 131 have national programmes of BCG vaccination, 21 do not, and 26 have an unknown status. Interestingly, the USA and Italy are among the rich, developed countries to have never had a universal BCG programme. Spain also does not have one, but their Iberian neighbours Portugal do, and they had only 209 deaths at the time of writing. The UK ran a modest vaccination programme that ended in 2005.

From data gathered over 15 days of the current pandemic, incidence of Covid-19 was 38.4/million in countries with BCG vaccination compared to 358.4/million in countries without. The mortality rate was 4.28/million in countries with BCG programs compared to 40/million in countries without such a program.

Therefore, there are roughly 10 times fewer cases and deaths in countries with BCG vaccination. One of the paper’s co-authors, Dr Ashish Kamat, said that “While we expected to see a protective effect of BCG, the magnitude of the difference (almost 10 fold) in incidence and mortality (of Covid-19) between countries with and without a BCG vaccination program was pleasantly surprising.’’

Other possible factors need checking

This study being about a correlation, of course the ‘’not causation’’ business must be mentioned. There are a host of qualifiers and caveats to the study, which basically amount to the possibility that factors other than the BCG status are affecting the figures for cases and deaths from Covid-19 coming out of those countries. Then again, they may not be.

Vaccine development is possibly the most cautious of all scientific endeavours, which is why rolling out a new one for this coronavirus will take at least a year, and probably longer. Patients who are given the vaccine as a trial must be monitored for at least six months to check for any potential side effects, and then follow further months of data analysis and bureaucratic procedures.

Adjusting an existing vaccine, however, could happen much faster, perhaps in half the time. Professor Robert Gallo of the Institute of Human Virology in Maryland says that he and his team will shortly make a major announcement, which is likely to involve an adjusted existing vaccine being computed for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, at least seven clinical trials have been launched for BCG as a treatment for Covid-19, including ones in Australia and the Netherlands. Hopefully there is more to this study than just correlation. If there is, we might get out of this lockdown sooner rather than later.

Eastern Europe beats West in Covid-19 fight, but West can’t acknowledge it because of Cold War SUPERIORITY complex

RT.com

Neil Clark

is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

23 Apr, 2020

Eastern Europe beats West in Covid-19 fight, but West can’t acknowledge it because of Cold War SUPERIORITY complex
By any objective assessment, governments in the eastern half of Europe have dealt with the Covid-19 outbreak better than many in the west. Yet, because of deep-seated attitudes of superiority, few are giving credit where it’s due.

Europe is divided again, but this time not by a wall.

Compare the Covid-19 deaths worldwide per one million population, as of  April 22, by country.

Top of the list is Belgium with 525.12 deaths per million. Then comes Spain (445.49), Italy (407.87), France (310.45), the UK (261.37), the Netherlands (227.26), Switzerland (173.54), Sweden (173.33), and then Ireland  (150.41). Spot anything? They’re all western European countries.

You have to scroll down quite a way before you get to countries in central or eastern Europe.

Romania has had 25.57 deaths per million. Hungary, 23.03; Czechia, 18.92; Serbia, 17.9; Croatia,  11.74; Poland, 10.6; Bulgaria, 7.02; Belarus, 5.8; Latvia, 4.67; Ukraine, 3.61; Russia, 3.16; Albania, 2.87; and Slovakia, 2.57 (amounting to just 14 deaths).

Branko Milanovic@BrankoMilan

Why is nobody discussing truly staggering differences in death rates between Eastern and Western Europe? In the @FT graphs none of EE countries is even included. The gap is just striking. (Worldometer, 22 April).

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How can we explain this new division of Europe? Well, it’s clear that geography has played its part. The main vector for the spread of Covid-19 has been population movements and, in particular, international air travel. More people visit western Europe than the east. There’s more coming and going. Covid-19 can be seen accurately as a virus of turbo-globalization, and western European countries are more turbo-globalised than those to the east. They also tend to be more densely populated, with some very large cities, which the virus likes, as it allows it to spread quicker.

But while eastern Europe has a number of ‘natural’ advantages, this doesn’t, I think, tell the whole story. Governments in eastern Europe have generally shown more common sense than most of their western counterparts. They quickly did the most obvious thing that you need to do when a virus has got its walking boots and rucksack on: they closed borders.

On March 12, Czechia declared a state of emergency and barred travelers from 15 countries hit by the novel coronavirus, including Iran, Italy, China and the UK. It then went into a ‘lockdown.’ On the same day Slovakia closed its borders to non-residents and imposed a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning from abroad.

Poland closed its borders on March 15 and Hungary followed suit one day later. Russia’s far east border with China had already been closed since the end of January.

Compare the decisiveness with which eastern European countries pulled up their drawbridges, with the hesitation in the west. On March 12, French President Emmanuel Macron declared “this virus has no passport”. As I wrote at the time, liberal ideology and virtue signaling were being put before public health.

ALSO ON RT.COMLiberal ideology & virtue signaling put before people’s HEALTH, as Macron, Merkel defend open borders amid Covid-19 spread

The virus might not have a passport, but the people carrying it in from China, and then from Italy, most certainly did! It was only on March 17 that there were signs that western European states were going to do what their eastern neighbors had already done. “The less we travel, the more we contain the virus,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. You don’t say!

At least western continental Europe did take some action on borders, albeit a week or so too late. Britain, by contrast, while imposing a ‘lockdown’ on domestic citizens, has continued to allow into the country unchecked flights from all over the world, including from New York, Iran and China.

It’s not just shutting borders and imposing strict quarantine measures that eastern European countries did right.

Generally, they’ve been quicker to act than their western counterparts. The culture of government undoubtedly plays a part.

I lived in Hungary for several years in the 1990s and was impressed by what I call the ‘administrative class.’ The people who work for the government, the civil servants, the old communist ’bureaucracy’, if you like, were very competent. They got the job done, with a minimum of fuss. In so many ways because of this efficient administration and a very high level of general and technical education, eastern European countries are actually better-run than many in the west, particularly Britain, where incompetence seems to lead on to great rewards. Countries where there was a ‘five-year-plan’ political culture not surprisingly are better at planning than those where there wasn’t.  Or, as the old saying has it, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Another legacy of the much-maligned socialist era might also have played a big part in minimizing the impact of Covid-19 in eastern Europe. As RT reported earlier in the month, ‘striking’ evidence has emerged showing that the BCG tuberculosis vaccine might be protective against Covid-19.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Striking’ evidence emerges that TB vaccine may be effective against Covid-19 — countries that use it have TEN TIMES fewer cases

Vaccinating their populations against TB was enthusiastically taken up by the socialist-bloc countries in the 1950s and remains mandatory in many, even though communism is gone. In Russia for instance, it is still given to children from three to five days old. By contrast, the USA and Italy never had a universal BCG programme, and, while Spain doesn’t have one either, its neighbour Portugal still does, and has had only 74.11 Covid-19-related deaths per million, compared to neighboring Spain’s 455.49.

The BCG programme may yet prove to be at least among the reasons why the old state of East Germany has a lower Covid-19 death toll than the western part of the country.

Germany is the only western European country that had a ‘socialist’ half – and it’s that socialist half which has helped bring its per-capita death rate down.

The failure to properly credit eastern Europe for its low Covid-related death rates reeks of bad sportsmanship.

Let me give you one example. On Monday evening I tweeted how Hungary had  less than 220 deaths from Covid-19, compared to the UK’s 16,000. By any objective assessment, Hungary had done better than the UK.

Neil Clark

@NeilClark66

Hungary gets a bad press because of Orban, the ´Viktator’ but compare their Covid stats to the UK’s . Still less than 200 deaths in Hun compared to UK’s 16K. UK population 6-7 times bigger Hungary’s done better per cap. They took it more seriously, quarantined & stopped flights.

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“I guess that settles it” @JusticeTyrwhit tweeted. “Orban is actually ok then and we were wrong to oppose fascism all along….?”

Order of the Coif@JusticeTyrwhit

I guess that settles it, Orban is actually okay then and we were wrong to oppose fascism all along…? https://twitter.com/NeilClark66/status/1252311991747842054 

Neil Clark

@NeilClark66

Hungary gets a bad press because of Orban, the ´Viktator’ but compare their Covid stats to the UK’s . Still less than 200 deaths in Hun compared to UK’s 16K. UK population 6-7 times bigger Hungary’s done better per cap. They took it more seriously, quarantined & stopped flights.

See Order of the Coif’s other Tweets

For a certain type of superior westerner, eastern Europe’s governments can never do any good. If you say they have handled something well, you are ‘dog whistling’ your support for ‘fascism’ or ‘communism.’

Draconian Covid-19 lockdowns in the west of Europe are ‘sensible’ and police overreach is played down, draconian Covid-19 lockdowns in the east are displayed as signs of proof that these countries are run by ‘dictators’ and have a ‘long authoritarian tradition.’

ALSO ON RT.COMThis is how UK media covers Britain’s Covid-19 response & that is how it covers Russia’s (is this FAIR journalism?)

It’s time that those with the Cold War mindset of ‘Order of The Coif‘ stopped patronizing the east and showed a little more humility. For, when it comes to dealing with Covid-19,  governments in ‘backward’ eastern Europe have generally served their populations better than those in ‘advanced’ western ones.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Understanding the sinister agenda being forced upon us