ebola-attentionThe recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa resulted in the evacuation of Western NGOs and corporate employees.  This reaction is understandable as there is no specific treatment or vaccination for the disease, and it is fatal for an estimated 60-65% of the infected population.  This outbreak has been especially difficult to contain, as it impacts multiple West African nations.   The World Health Organization labeled it a public health emergency and is calling for international assistance to combat it.

China has most visibly lent its support through the deployment of medical teams, supplies, and money.  Furthermore, Chinese nationals have not been evacuated, and while a few projects have been temporarily suspended, most Chinese-run businesses are maintaining normal operations.

Beijing is using this health crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Africa, a position that is likely to resonate well with the African nations.  Conversely, the evacuation of hundreds of international aid workers and Western employees may be welcome news for friends and families who see organizations taking care of their people, but will feel a lot like abandonment for the Africans left behind.  This will be difficult for western companies and NGOs to overcome when the Ebola virus is contained and normal operations resume.