The Transnational Politics of the Wuhan Coronavirus


Joji Kijima, University of Tsukuba | Ryosuke Ohniwa, University of Tsukuba

This comparative analysis on the Wuhan coronavirus or COVID-19 examines how different countries cope with the same global pandemic. This paper argues that the new coronavirus could have been contained earlier if Chinese officials had not autocratically concealed information from the public. It utilizes a social constructivist approach to reveal the de-sinicization of COVID-19 from a transnational perspective. In effect, this paper contributes to the field of science, technology, and society by highlighting the social responsibility of scientists and decision-makers across national borders.

First, this paper sheds light on different interpretations of the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China and how the World Health Organization (WHO) and different countries reacted to it. Second, it shows the limits of Chinese sovereignty in the face of a real global pandemic by analyzing the case of Taiwan’s participation in WHO. Third, it turns to the case of the cruise ship Diamond Princess with infected passengers anchored off the coast of Japan and draws a lesson for crisis management. Fourth, it points out the ideological divide over quarantine policies towards China by highlighting the case of Cambodia’s acceptance of the cruise ship MS Westerdam. Fifth, it traces the development of vaccines and test kits by comparing cases such as the trials of traditional medicine in China and a vaccine made in Japan. Finally, it examines China’s reverse quarantine policy towards Korea and Japan and its medical diplomacy to de-sinicize the Wuhan coronavirus.


Creative Commons Licence


Contributed date

March 20, 2020 - 7:54am

Critical Commentary

Abstract submitted to 4S 2020 open panel on Transnational STS



Cite as

Joji Kijima and Ryosuke Ohniwa, "The Transnational Politics of the Wuhan Coronavirus", contributed by Aalok Khandekar, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 29 July 2020, accessed 23 July 2024.