War? Curtain? or Wall?

Prof. Yu Xinli & Cai Chunyang
April 14, 2020


It seems quite ridiculous to put these three words together: war, curtain, and wall. The word ‘war’ is normal in the present order and is commonly used. However, today, it is being used to refer to what the Covid-19 pandemic has done to the human world. It is a horrifying and unprecedented war between humans and an invisible enemy and has cost a great deal in heavy human casualties and substantial economic losses. The Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of relenting so that there is an end to this ghastly war. On the contrary, the virus and its attacks have only increased, injecting more fear among humans and forcing them to get away from each other. So far, in human history, there have been several tragic instances of invisible attacks by viruses, each time a different virus has played the role. However, none like this one. The corona virus, Covid-19 has raised something invisible, which is similar to a curtain or wall, before every individual, which has separated and isolated each one of us. That is why the words, curtain, and wall come to our minds. What is the connection between war, curtain, and wall in the battle against Covid-19? 

On March 5, 1946, the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his famous speech in Fulton, Missouri, USA, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” After his speech, the ”Iron Curtain” quickly became a brutal reality in the Cold War between the Capitalist West and Communist East. The ‘Iron Curtain’ is an imaginary word, which never really existed in reality. However, on August 13, 1961, the construction of the Berlin Wall was finished just overnight. During 1945 to 1961, 3.5 million had escaped from East Germany to West Germany. The wall was built to stop such developments, but as we, all know it failed in 1989. The coronavirus Covid-19’s attack has set up a mental or spiritual wall, which descended, shaking the morale to fight. The war has made the busy streets empty, and the wall spreads across borders of nations, cities, communities, even our neighbors. What a war it is!

Master Sun in the Art of War (《孙子兵法》) says: “Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat. Knowing oneself but not know the enemy, one win one loss. Knowing neither the enemy nor oneself, one loses every time. (知彼知己,百战不殆;不知彼而知己,一胜一负;不知彼,不知己,每战必殆。).” Frankly, in the war with this invisible enemy, we human beings neither know the enemy nor ourselves. Although the scientists are trying very hard, the vaccine for coronavirus Covid-19 may not be practically available until 2021. Facing such a strong enemy, we must abandon the Cold War mentality, reject Black on Black means, give up misnaming things, and prejudice. Only when all nations transcend their differences in ideology and social system, and we all stand united as one, we have a chance to win.

As the only two countries with a population of more than 1 billion, China and India should set an example to the world to support each other in combating Covid-19. Moreover, as the only two countries with non-interventionist civilizations, China and India should retrace back the wisdom that our ancestors taught us. Respect and obey the natural law and live in harmony with nature. For example, like The Tao Te Ching (The Book of Tao and The《道德经》) by Lao Zi’sZi’s (老子) says: “Human follows the way the Earth does, the Earth follows the way the Heaven does, the Heaven follows Tao, and Tao follows nature. (人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。)”.

China has managed to control the epidemic within 2-3 months with great efforts and sacrifice. Today, there are more than 1 million cases of Covid-19 across the world, but we want to say that in the face of such a disaster, the destruction of values and conflict of values is more ruthless than the epidemic. We have considerable experience in treating human beings like enemies, even after thousands of years of evolution. However, this is not the Cold War era and not a war against terrorists. In this war, we have a common enemy: Covid-19, and we share the same interests. So, let us put down our arrogance and fight together.

*** Prof. Yu Xinli is the director at China-India People to People Exchange Center, Yunnan Minzu University, China. Cai Chunyang is  a research scholar at the Yunnan University, China ***