As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, citizens and leaders around the world are rethinking what it means to keep people safe. The meaning of national security is being recast: according to one recent survey, many Americans now consider infectious disease to be a greater threat than terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation, or the rise of China.
What does it mean for health and security to become so intertwined? Democracies and autocracies around the world will approach that question in their own ways, given their disparate views on privacy, surveillance, and civil liberties. But some are closer to having an answer than others. As the pandemic’s first epicenter, China has had a head start, and the vision its leaders have laid out—constant surveillance in the name of both biological and political health—is troubling. Democracies must develop a clear and distinct vision for the future relationship between health and security so that China’s approach does not become the world’s.
By Sheena Chestnut Greitens and Julian Gewirtz July 10, 2020
JULIAN GEWIRTZ is an Academy Scholar at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the author of Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China. He is also an upcoming fellow at the China and the World Program at Columbia University