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Editorial: Closed-door policy amid coronavirus pandemic cannot continue

  • March 30, 2020
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

Countries and regions around the world are stepping up entry restrictions on the grounds of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a result, the global economic system has ceased to function properly.

 

In some aspects, such steps are inevitable as short-term border control measures. However, the movement of people and goods across borders has been cut off one after another without sufficient coordination with other countries. Amid this widespread closed-door policy, global supply chains have been disrupted, wreaking major havoc on distribution networks.

 

From smartphones and daily necessities to automobiles, production lines have been suspended one after the other. If prolonged, the global recession induced by the coronavirus shock could become increasingly serious.

 

President Donald Trump heralded the move in late January by severely restricting people entering the U.S. from China. In March, he also imposed travel bans on European countries, where coronavirus infections were surging.

 

Trump, known for his “America First” policy, initially bragged about the low number of infections in the United States, accusing Europe of failing to restrict entry from China. However, coronavirus infections in the U.S. eventually spiked, and the country now has the most confirmed cases in the world. This has highlighted the fact that border controls are not a perfect solution.

 

Nevertheless, the dominoes of national isolation policies show no signs of stoppage across the globe. Even Germany has moved to close its borders, setting aside the freedom of movement principle of the European Union.

 

Japan initially limited entry restrictions to people from Wuhan, the central Chinese city that became the epicenter of coronavirus outbreaks, and some other areas. However, after infections spread to other areas, Tokyo enhanced entry restrictions to include people from all over China, South Korea, the United States and European countries.

 

The World Health Organization points out that entry restrictions are only buying time, and has warned that countries and regions should consider side effects from the halt to the global movement of people and goods.

Behind the lingering shortages of surgical masks and other medical equipment lies the stagnation of trade with China, the world’s factory.

 

Group of 20 leaders declared in their joint communique that “We commit to … coordinate responses in ways that avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.” Yet there appears to be no end to moves to impose entry restrictions in a manner as if to put the blame on other countries.

 

If the global economy remains divided, the development of curative drugs would be delayed, bringing no hope for an early end to the coronavirus pandemic. Trade stagnation can only aggravate the global recession. Countries and regions should be aware that this closed-door policy cannot continue over a long period.

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