The coronavirus that can change China

The current outbreak is showing up weaknesses in China's healthcare system - such as lack of universal coverage and over-centralised decision-making. Reforms are needed.

Disease outbreaks are high-risk, high-impact events that test a nation's governing philosophy, a state's governance capacity and a society's resilience and identity. The severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003 changed China, and the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will probably also trigger reforms.

The question is, what kind?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2020, with the headline 'The coronavirus that can change China'. Print Edition | Subscribe