Chinese see ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ in (Ebola) crisis. What do West Africans see?

17 Jan

I like Wu Jianmin, a former Chinese ambassador to the United States who now advises his country’s foreign ministry, particularly for his stance in defence of his compatriots when asked a question by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour regarding a purportedly callous attitude of some Chinese businesspeople who tend to place moneymaking above life-saving in West Africa.

It was a special edition of her program on December 31st 2014 to highlight some of its top interviews for the year in passing. In the short clip of the already aired interview with Wu, Christiane asked: “I just want to show you a quote. This is from a Chinese businessman in Sierra Leone. ‘Ebola is real, but so are the business opportunities.’ Now some people might think that looks like a cold comment. How do you explain that comment?”
Wu replied calmly: “You know, crisis in Chinese consists of two words, danger and opportunity,” the man started, looking coolly with a visage that says he has handled questions harder than that. He looked and sounded convinced that his words match his belief as a Chinese. I respect what diplomacy has done in his approach to issues.
“I think this is — I think this is Chinese philosophy — it’s a crisis, yes. We have to fight this crisis. But behind the crisis there must be some business opportunities.” What a way to think!

This is not just a Chinese thing. The economic crisis in countries like Spain has propelled people in the country to revisit their thinking pouches to come up with innovative ways to make life easier for themselves.

Yet, we the West Africans, victims in this situation, are busy plodding in progress to get back to where we were before the unknown disease sprung out from nowhere. We have smoldered after lashes from the Ebola virus. Now, we are gradually moving into another phase of retrogression, to overlook the business opportunities that go with the crisis, leaving our business environment fallow for those who have the courage to use it.

Forget it, the effect may be harder on individual states, but the overall result will add to the stolen or wasted years of many West Africans. Thanks to our leaders.

Some Liberians have taken to their Facebook pages to release comic relief to the tragic scenes that had been unfolding mostly in the Mano River Union circuit for some months. I may be the only one interested in the fun they tend to create but I think they are getting better at it (hope I don’t sound too close to Liberians). Keep it up guys! You are in the lead. Someone in church once joked about a man who, in his quiet time, told God “to leave him alone if He (God) cannot help him.”

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