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The Collective Mindset of Chinese People When Wearing a Protective Mask

2020/02/12
COVID-19

As some of us are grounded in our houses and flats while Shanghai looks like a ghost town, I thought that rather than speaking about Digital Marketing and E-Commerce in China, I should rather reflect on the extraordinary events we are witnessing during this Coronavirus pandemic.

One thing that is quite remarkable, among other things, is the discipline of the Chinese people and their capacity to abide by the rules. And it is not just blind military obedience, it is much more than that.

If such a virus spread precisely in China, there is a reason for it: the incredible density of the population. But this density over the course of History has also taught lessons to the Chinese people that make them more capable than any other country in the world to tackle this new challenge: they have a true collective mindset.

One thing for me which epitomizes this capacity is the reason for which they wear protective masks, not just when there is an epidemy, such as now, but in regular times, over the course of a year.

When I first arrived in China and I saw people wearing masks, I thought it was juts to protect themselves from the pollution, and that is probably the reason why certain people wear them. But quickly, I noticed there was another reason. Stopping infections. People wear masks when they are sick not to protect themselves, but to protect others from them. The collective interest always comes before the individual one. 

When Americans or French people would first think of how they can protect themselves at an individual level from an infection, Chinese people first think of how they can protect the others from being infected by them.

There is a lesson to be learnt. 

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  (J.F.Kennedy)