These days, every social problem and crisis in China is reported as a crisis of legitimacy and challenge to Beijing. That may be so, but in the larger global context, those same problems and crises are no more or less than what most governments face. The current opening and live-with-Covid policy is a case in point. Everywhere, living with Covid means queuing times are surging, staff are leaving or on strike, and more patients are dying. Globally, it’s chaos and despair in the public healthcare system, not just China’s. But everywhere else, it’s mainly reported as a local or national health service crisis. In China, it’s inevitably tied to the country’s alleged dictatorship and authoritarianism. Whether zero-Covid or living with Covid, it’s always the same pre-scripted news template. My complaint is not about whataboutism; perspective and context matter. All across Europe, in North America and Britain, sick patients are flooding hospitals, overcrowding wards and delaying non-Covid but essential life-saving treatments and operations. Public healthcare systems within the European Union – ravaged for three years by the pandemic – are being overwhelmed by huge backlogs while they have to battle, all at the same time, a “triple epidemic” of Covid-19, seasonal flu and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this winter. China shelves port visas and visa-free transit for Japanese and South Koreans Britain’s once widely admired National Health Service is on the brink, with public nurses on strike for the first time in modern history. Emergency services are either not responding or if they are, patients have had to wait hours before being picked up and then wait many more hours, sometimes for a whole day, before being admitted. Reports of death while waiting have been on the rise. The NHS waiting list for all kinds of hospital treatment has ballooned from 2.3 million in 2009 and 4.3 million in early 2020 to roughly 7 million now, equivalent to more than one in 10 of the total population. But the NHS is not the only one. Healthcare delays and medical staff shortages have been reported in all Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. The OECD’s average waiting time for all kinds of hospital treatment is now more than 120 days. There have been recurrent strikes by nurses and doctors in Spain, Germany, France and Denmark. At the weekend, more than 7,000 nurses walked off the job over pay and staffing levels at two of New York City’s largest hospitals. In the Canadian province of British Columbia, overwhelmed by Covid, only one in five cancer patients receive their first specialist consultation within the recommended period of two weeks, leading to more pre-treatment deaths. Similar, if less severe delays, have been reported in Ontario and other provinces. It’s intriguing how such stories are rarely commented on by political editors or foreign correspondents in OECD countries, and certainly would not appear as political issues to be analysed in such publications as Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs. But they would when it comes to China. Merck drug could be available in China by end of next week, Sinopharm says One news report from a leading global wire service strikes me as paradigmatic of Anglo-American reporting on Covid in China. The reporter on the ground wrote that the average waiting time at crematoriums in Beijing had lengthened to almost six hours compared to less than 90 minutes in the pre-pandemic days because of a “severe staff shortage”. By the time the story was run online, the original reason for the longer wait time was dropped and replaced with crematoriums being “overrun” with families mourning their dead. I wonder how long a grieving family has to wait at a crematorium in London or Madrid. For major news outlets, reporters and editors on the medical beat often have years of experience in their speciality and know the subjects inside out at the levels of city, province, state and/or national levels. Do you seriously think those so-called old China hands, foreign correspondents and foreign affairs writers know the first thing about something as complex as China’s medical system serving more than a billion people?