1. Different mindsets.
The pursuit of longevity is an important part of the Chinese culture, so it is foreseeably easier for authorities to take measures in line with public interest to combat the pandemic. However, though also the pursuit of many people, longevity is not as deeply rooted in Western culture. Millions want to live longer; thousands want to live life to the full, regardless of the approaching death — as some millennials put it, “if I get corona(virus), I get corona. I’ve got to make full use of it till I can’t.” The strife across each western country, which Chinese media interpret as nonsensical insanity, is much fiercer than most Chinese people could imagine. While authorities are trying hard to keep the situation in check to ensure protection and safety for the millions, they have to make extra efforts to deal with the thousands. So a sudden lockdown like that imposed on most cities in China wouldn’t be an option unless (authorities presume) there are few if any dissenters.
2. A lack of labor and available resources.
Western countries have been accustomed to outsourcing a huge proportion of their projects and resources from developing countries. Usually this works well for them. But when almost all the countries are plagued and even barely able to protect themselves, Western societies have no alternative but to be self-reliant. Unfortunately they have forgotten how to be self-reliant in every little facet of a complex system to combat the pandemic. So we’re not expecting fast and efficient responses from them.
Bottom line: While a democratic system is usually effective and desirable, there’s a price to pay when it’s confronted with times of emergency.