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SARS Epidemic and China

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) swept through Asia in 2003, wreaking human devastation in its wake and affecting the lives of millions of people. As the SARS epidemic fades into memory in the West, Asian countries continue to grapple with its legacy. Nowhere is this fact truer than in China, whose initial attempts to conceal the epidemic may well have contributed to its far-flung reach. The government's inability to maintain the cover-up, it's very public purge of officials, and the subsequent opening of the media that occurred, were all important steps on the road to a more open political system. It is apparent in the author's view, the Chinese government's lack of acknowledgement notwithstanding, that the SARS epidemic will have a significant impact on the nation's political system. This impact will be felt in the long-run, however, and not immediately. Some international observers have pointed to the SARS epidemic as "China's Chernobyl," believing that it will lead to widespread political upheaval and democratization. Others believe that China's existing political system will be able to co-opt and absorb whatever impact is generated and remain as monolithic as it is today. I believe that both of these interpretations do not fully capture the nuances of the issue and are inaccurate. The SARS epidemic, and the Chinese government's ham-handdd attempts to address it, have put in motion forces which, in the short term, the government will attempt to contain and repress. In the long run, however, these forces have the potential to profoundly change the Chinese political system and make it a more open and democratic one.

In order to fully understand the short and long term political impact that the SARS epidemic will have on China's political system, we must first understand what led to the SARS epidemic and how the crisis played out. To this end, the analysis presented in this paper will be organized into the...

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SARS Epidemic and China. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:05, May 31, 2020, from