China, Vietnam, UAE top list as citizens rank government response

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Commuters wear protective masks as they exit a train at a subway station during Monday rush hour on April 13, 2020 in Beijing, China.

Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

As countries across the globe are left grappling with the coronavirus crisis, most people are not satisfied with their leaders’ response to the outbreak, according to a new report.

Citizens from just seven out of 23 countries rate their governments’ coronavirus containment measures as broadly positive, based on the “Global Crisis Perceptions” index released Wednesday by insights agencies Blackbox Research and Toluna.

The research, which surveyed approximately 12,500 people across 23 countries between April 3 and 19, asked respondents to rate their nations across four key indicators: national political leadership, corporate leadership, community and media.

China, where the virus is thought to have originated, ranked highest in the citizens’ survey, with a score of 85 out of 100. The world’s second-largest economy was followed by Vietnam (77), the United Arab Emirates (59) and India (59), in a list which saw Asian countries take the top spots.

New Zealand (56), which has received international acclaim for its handling of the virus and last week began easing restrictions, was the only Western country to score higher than the global average of 45. Australia (43), the U.S. (41), and all four western European countries surveyed — Germany (41), the U.K. (37), Italy (36) and France (26) — all ranked below the global average. 

Countries’ coronavirus response ranking

  1. China — 86
  2. Vietnam — 77
  3. UAE — 59
  4. India — 59
  5. Malaysia — 58
  6. New Zealand — 56
  7. Taiwan — 50
  8. Philippines — 49
  9. Indonesia — 48
  10. Singapore — 48
  11. South Africa — 47
  12. Australia — 43
  13. Germany — 41
  14. U.S — 41
  15. Mexico — 37
  16. U.K. — 37
  17. Iran — 36
  18. Thailand — 36
  19. Italy — 36
  20. South Korea — 31
  21. Hong Kong — 27
  22. France — 26
  23. Japan — 16

A dent to national psyches 

The largely dissatisfactory response, from Western countries in particular, could reflect a hit to national psyches in terms of their expectations about preparedness for unexpected events, noted David Black, founder and chief executive officer of Blackbox Research.

“For many of these countries, this pandemic is unprecedented. Governments are still coming to terms with a crisis they did not expect, and public confidence suffered as a result,” said Black.

“Meanwhile, a significant part of Asia has had their leadership shaped by past epidemics, such as SARS and MERS,” referring to two other deadly respiratory diseases caused by strains of coronavirus that were predominantly in Asia and the Middle East, respectively.

In terms of the business response to the pandemic, citizens of China and Vietnam were alone in giving their countries’ corporations a response rating of over 50. Meanwhile, respondents in France (10), Hong Kong (7), and Japan (6), rated their business response the poorest. 

The report also found a disparity in major economies’ ability to emerge from the crisis. The majority (85%) of Chinese people said they believe their country will come out of the crisis stronger, compared to less than half (41%) of Americans.  

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