The COVID-19 pandemic, for now, appears the greatest global challenge humanity has faced since the world war.
The deadly contagion has blown to almost every corner of the earth. So far, 213 countries and territories around the world have been affected.
Wherever the outbreak has been reported, life is never the same. The pandemic has left devastating damage in its paths. At least 360,000 have died while more than 5.9 million people have so far been infected with the virus. Without a vaccine, countries have been left with limited options with all and sundry just fighting to contain its spread.
Yet, it is not just a public health issue as the pandemic has put an additional strain on the world economy. Millions of people are losing jobs and income, and worryingly, it still remains unclear as to when normalcy will return.
Pushed to the edge, calls for a global action plan to deal with the crisis at hand reverberate. And China, having recorded the first case of the deadly virus, is leading this campaign.
Addressing a press conference after the conclusion of the annual gathering of China’s top legislature (NPC), and the country’s top political advisory body (CPPCC), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the importance of international cooperation in fighting COVID-19 to ensure victory over the epidemic.
According to Li “the international community is now facing a dual challenge of containing the spread of the virus and restoring the economy and social order.”
The prime minister, who delivered the government work report that was later adopted by the legislators during the session, says the crisis must be confronted with international solidarity, given that both the epidemic itself and the resulting economic crises are global problems.
“It is impossible for any country to achieve further development with its door closed and China will keep to its opening-up policy and will not waver in this commitment.” He said.
While acknowledging that the two issues are complementary to each other, Li argued that it entails efforts, especially an all-inclusive collaboration, to strike a balance between the two threats.
He used the occasion to reiterate China is open to international cooperation especially on the “research and development of vaccines, medicines and testing reagents for COVID-19, and is willing to share realistic expectations with the world.”
Li’s undertaking came after Chinese President Xi Jinping also emphasized the significance of joint efforts by all countries in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, even as he warned that the disease knows no boundaries.
‘Only a collective response from the international community can defeat it,’ The Chinese leader said.
Xi, who held panel discussions with legislators and political advisers during the annual parliament meeting said China is ready to coordinate efforts in this regard as well as provide material assistance within its capabilities.
Amid accusations that China concealed information on the extent of COVID-19 the outbreak, the Chinese leader maintains that his country has shared information in an “open, transparent and responsible manner about its evolution, characteristics, diagnosis, and treatment protocols.”
He maintains that the Asian economic powerhouse is committed to cooperation in the global fight against the disease while noting that China has provided knowledge, material assistance, and experts to close to 100 countries and global organizations since the outbreak.
Xi is further calling for unwavering efforts to make economic globalization more open, inclusive and balanced so that its benefits are shared by all, and to build an open world economy.
Having brought the situation at home under control, the two Chinese leaders insist that Beijing can share valuable lessons about COVID-19 and how to deal with it.
These sentiments resonate well with views variously expressed by experts the world over who hold the view that, to deal with the current crisis, there is a need for a spirit of co-operation and trust.
China seems to have put her money where her mouth is. It is worth noting that Beijing led a global effort to produce and distribute medical equipment, most notably, testing kits and respiratory equipment. Efforts by billionaire businessman Jack Ma also easily comes to mind.
The rallying call by China matches numerous pleas for rich countries to be willing to send the much-needed precious equipment to poorer countries battling the disease.
Besides this, there have also been calls for nations to consider pooling medical personnel. Under this proposal, countries currently less affected could send medical staff to the worst-hit regions of the world, both in order to help them in their hour of need and in order to gain valuable experience.
Those fronting this argument also insist that global co-operation is vitally needed on the economic front as well. Given the global nature of the economy and that of supply chains, a case has been made that if each government operates in complete disregard of the others, the result will be chaos and a deepening crisis.
It appears, the obtaining crises provide an opportunity for humankind to realize the acute danger posed by global disunity. It is highly probable that disunity at this moment in time might prolong the crisis, while solidarity, might be the only way to victory against the COVID-19.