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International cooperation is the key to tackling global pandemic

Thursday,Mar 26, 2020

“Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.” Chen Wenling, chief economist of China Center for International Economic Exchange, cited the popular saying during a talk with Chinese youth to comment on the international community’s fight against the coronavirus.
“It is regretful that the rest of the world did not take the window of opportunity seriously, which the Chinese people and government had won through a hard-fought battle. They wasted the opportunity with ignorance and bias,” Chen said in a video conference held on Wednesday about China’s and the world’s role in pandemic control.
On Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom called on countries to use the second window of opportunity to suppress and stop the transmission of COVID-19 as many countries and regions introduced unprecedented lockdown measures.
With fewer and fewer cases, China has passed its darkest time since the first reports emerged of an outbreak in central Wuhan, China, two months ago.
The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in early March and the organization has reported over 460,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 196 countries as of Mar. 25.
The Western world lambasted China for the quarantine measures it implemented in the early days of the outbreak, criticizing the Chinese government for violating human rights. However, China was the only country that responded to the request for help by Italy and Serbia a month later.
“The cultural difference between the East and the West drags down the response to the global crisis. The discontent of a rising China in the international community, the malicious distortion of Chinese concepts, and bias toward Chinese culture are the reasons for the impasse,” Chen pointed out.
In Europe for example, before it became the epicenter of the coronavirus on Mar. 13, the COVID-19 was treated like the flu , that is, until it became an uncontrollable disaster.
“The EU is standing at a crossroad. It should rethink its relationship with the US, China, and Russia, among which China and Russia provided medical assistance to the hardest-hit member, Italy, as the number of confirmed cases surged on the other side of the Atlantic,” said Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.
International cooperation has never been more in need than now. “China is not taking advantage of your vulnerability; we want to help. Pursuing international leadership at this critical time is not a part of Eastern wisdom. Conspiracy will do no good for EU-China cooperation,” Cui added.
Besides the current support in terms of medical supplies and experience sharing, China is seeking broader cooperation in the international public health mechanism, such as in some African regions, due to their below-average public health systems and the possibility of Africa becoming the next place of the pandemic outbreak following Europe.
This global crisis also exposed questions in the basic theories and values that dominate the Western world about what are human rights where the border between governance and individual freedom lies.
“It will be difficult for China to change the stigma that emerged from the epidemic, because we are stronger before and have more responsibility to fulfill as the world’s second largest economy and the key link in the global supply chain,” said Ding Yifan, former deputy director of the State Council’s World Development Institute at Development Research Center.

From People's Daily,2020-03-26
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