When it comes to carrying out major projects quickly, their authoritarian structure undoubtedly is able to deliver the goods. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government built a 1,000 bed hospital in just 10 days in Wuhan city, the center of the outbreak that has killed over 200 people and for which there are over 10,000 confirmed cases. Construction began on January 24 and the hospital is due to open today. You can see a time-lapse of the construction.
This is not the first time China has done something on this scale so fast. In 2003, in response to the SARS epidemic, they built a hospital in just seven days, so they seem to have these things down.
“China has a record of getting things done fast even for monumental projects like this,” says Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
He points out that the hospital in Beijing in 2003 was built in seven days so the construction team is probably attempting to beat that record. Just like the hospital in Beijing, the Wuhan centre will be made out of prefabricated buildings.
“This authoritarian country relies on this top down mobilisation approach. They can overcome bureaucratic nature and financial constraints and are able to mobilise all of the resources.”
Mr Huang said that engineers would be brought in from across the country in order to complete construction in time.
“The engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for westerners to imagine. It can be done,” he added.
Maybe the US government could contract with the Chinese government to deal with domestic disasters like the Puerto Rican earthquakes.