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Experts stress using multilateralism to address pandemic threat

Sunday,May 03, 2020


The screenshot shows Justin Vaisse, director-general of the Paris Peace Forum, sheding light on the concept of "vertical multilateralism" during a webinar held by the Center for China and Globalization on April 23. [Photo by Zhu Bochen/China.org.cn]


During a think tank webinar, experts and business leaders from China and European countries stressed using multilateralism and global governance to cope with the social impact and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar was held on April 23 by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) under the theme "The year of Europe on hold amid a pandemic: Perspectives on European Integration and China-Europe cooperation."

"Vertical multilateralism"

Justin Vaisse, director-general of the Paris Peace Forum, started the discussion by underscoring global interdependence, especially during the pandemic. "We are all interlinked by many ties, and viruses are one of them," he said.

Vaisse noted that there is currently a lack of collective efforts among international organizations. He also described the situation in Europe as "a battle of narratives, exchanging barbs," which, Vaisse believed, "has probably contributed to weakening the collective response to the novel coronavirus."

In response, Vaisse called for the international community to build "vertical multilateralism."

"It is not only among the more or less 200 countries, forming the international community, but also all of these efforts that associate: foundations, the private sector, citizens, NGOs and others around common goals," Vaisse explained.

Building on Vaisse's idea, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department for European Studies, China Institute of International Studies, stressed the importance of resuming the value chain and supply chain between China and European countries.

Cui elaborated on the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the world and reinforced that China and Europe share growing number of common interests and goals despite of differences.

"Now it's time for us to go back to the very basic point and think about how could we find the common understanding," Cui said.

The screenshot shows Jean-Christophe Bas, CEO and executive board chairman of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, delivering a speech during a webinar held by the Center for China and Globalization on April 23. [Photo by Zhu Bochen/China.org.cn ]


The crisis behind the crisis

Jean-Christophe Bas, CEO and executive board chairman of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, pointed out the domino effect of the crisis facing mankind.

"What we are witnessing today is lots of jokes and lots of, in a way, speculation about what we could call eventually the crisis behind the crisis," Bas warned. "The sanitary crisis would generate an economy crisis that would generate a geopolitical crisis."

Bas likened the ongoing finger-pointing around the world to kids in a courtyard denouncing each other for misbehaving.

In order to address these crises, Bas believed that countries should not deny weaknesses in the existing international architecture.

"I think it is time to move from words to concrete evidence of our willingness to cooperate," Bas appealed.

Paolo Magri, executive vice president and director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, warned that the world would likely experience further division before countries are able to better cooperate in the future.

Recalling the dramatic changes that have happened since the 20th century, Magri reinforced the significance of cooperation through a historical perspective. 

"We emerged from those dramatic times, and we are fully aware that multilateral cooperation was crucial," Magri said, referring to World War I and World War II. "Let's hope we have learned the lesson and then we don't need to go through the entire drama again to understand the gain."

From China.org.cn,2020-05-03
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