Tel-Hai Magazine - Fall 2020
In Japan as well, whose population is amongst the oldest in the world, life is getting back on track, with the limitations policy that was put in place early in the crisis being phased out throughout almost the entire country, and its schools reopening. Korea is continuing to present a widespread and successful inspection model that helped it deal rapidly with the first wave of the disease, as well as with later,more local outbreaks. A lockdown has not been put in place in either of these states, but public campaigns encouraging wearing masks and staying home were carried out, and the public response was impressively positive and compliant. It is clear that the various models implemented in East Asian counties have achieved results which countries in Europe and the Americas can only jealously aspire to. One reason may be the high public trust in government actions, which results in public behavior which helped halt the pandemic. This public trust was both earned, in this particular crisis thanks to clear messages and actions lead by professional officials on the national and local levels, the beneficiary of a cultural worldview which recognizes the ability of the government to resolve crises. In considering the Asian success one should also take into account the improved funding of public health systems following the problematic handling of the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the impressive coordination between governmental authorities. The use of advanced technology which enables focused identification and treatment of infection cases played a decisive role in the success of many East Asian States. It is worth noting that moreso than in the West, the leading democratic states in East Asia also displayed widespread public consensus and political feasibility regarding the infringement on individual privacy which such measures entail. But beyond the actions undertaken by the governmental authorities, the social and public mobilization for appropriate behavior, the public cooperation given through the trust in the system and the internalization of the patterns of social distancing played an even greater role in East Asia's impressive achievements. So, while in the United States experts took pains to convince the President of the necessity of masks, in East Asia ill people, even if they are only suffering from a cold, wore masks even decades before this crisis, out of consideration to their neighbors. The reasons for the success these countries registered are many and various, but the leading one is the simple insight that East Asians did not need to be persuaded that a pandemic had broken out and needed to be dealt with. The readiness of the East Asian States to pay a high price to contain the disease in its initial stages is what enabled them to limit the rate of the pandemic’s victims to a minimum, enable the economy to recover, and to slowly return to normal. That is how the Government China, whose population is four times greater than that of the United States, can direct the unprecedented manpower and resources required to deal with any new outbreak in a thorough but focused manner.
Dr. Oded Abt is a faculty member in the Department of East Asian Studies at Tel-Hai College, specializing in Chinese social and religious history, anthropology and ethnicity. During the last decade he carried out extensive fieldwork and research in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Manila. His current research project is based on anthropological and historical research into the ethnic and religious heritage of descendants of Muslims in Southeast China, Taiwan and the Philippines. Dr. Dror Kochan is a lecturer in the Department of East Asia Studies at Tel-Hai College. Dror deals with political, social and economic processes in contemporary China, focusing on internal Urban migration from the countryside, urban transformation and planning, and changes to urban public spaces. Tel-Hai is the only college in the country with a Department of East Asian Studies. The department operates in a bi-departmental format, so that students focus on the Chinese or Japanese language and integrate their studies with fields such as economics, psychology and even computer science. Classes take place in an intimate setting in which students are exposed to the history, culture and politics of East Asian countries. Graduates of the department are integrated into organizations and companies that operate in China, Japan and other countries. Another area that the department hopes to develop in the upcoming years, once the Corona era ends, is inbound tourism from East Asia, with an emphasis on tourism sites in the Galilee (Prof. Amir Goldstein, Head of the Department of East Asia studies). the Department of East Asian Studies
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