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Experts praise Xi's emphasis on global unity

Tuesday,Apr 21, 2020

President Xi Jinping's call for a concerted global effort in tackling the coronavirus pandemic has won the backing of experts from around the world.

Xi made the case in the bimonthly Qiushi Journal that international solidarity and cooperation were the "two most powerful weapons" in dealing with the crisis.

Martin Jacques, a British author and academic, said that by stressing the need for countries to unite and work together, Xi demonstrated again his ability to think on "a bigger scale" than some of his Western counterparts when it comes to coping with the pandemic.

"The Chinese have a notion of the world the West has never had. The West is anchored to the notion of the nation state and this has been demonstrated in this crisis by the United States, in particular, rejecting multilateralism and seeing the world in terms of America first," he said.

Xi, in his article published on April 16 in Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, wrote that the pandemic needed to be tackled on four fronts: conducting a resolute all-out global war against the outbreak; forging a collective response of control and treatment at the international level; supporting international organizations in playing active roles; and strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination.

Koh King Kee, the president of the Centre for New Inclusive Asia, a think tank based in Kuala Lumpur, said Xi was right to stress that a collective world response was now imperative.

"Nations must put aside geopolitics and ideologies, be united and not be mired in finger-pointing or the blame game," he said.

"Pandemics have killed more people than wars. The pandemic crisis is a grim reminder that a contagious virus knows no borders, ethnicities or political systems."

Andy Mok, a senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, said it was important that Xi placed emphasis on improving the global governance framework once the pandemic was over.

"Pandemics are only one new challenge. Global governance has to be up to the challenges in a new era of greater connectivity and interdependence. Without a united effort in strengthening and harmonizing overall governance, the world will fall short of achieving the goal of creating a prosperous and healthy future," he said.

In the article, Xi outlined how China had dealt with the crisis, acting in an "open, transparent and responsible manner", and had provided "timely updates" to the World Health Organization, releasing the genome sequencing of the virus at the earliest opportunity and sharing its experience with the rest of the world without any hesitation.

"At the most difficult moment in our fight against the outbreak, China received assistance and help from a lot of members of the global community. Such expressions of friendship will always be remembered and cherished by the Chinese people. The Chinese are a grateful people who always reciprocate kindness," Xi wrote.

Mario Cavolo, the CEO of M Communications Group, a company based in China, said China has demonstrated by its actions that it is a global citizen.

"An old China hand friend of mine recently said that China has been the adult in the room throughout this crisis," he said.

Cavolo said he was confounded and disappointed by the reaction in some Western countries to China's assistance, particularly those accusing it of having a hidden agenda.

"With the virus now a global pandemic, common sense tells us that China, the first country affected, should share its knowledge and play an important role in helping other countries and in the global response," he said.

"It is really difficult to accept the immaturity and political agendas of those who make accusations that such assistance is driven by some purpose other than humanitarian aid."

Koh at the Centre for New Inclusive Asia said Xi was evoking the old Chinese saying that "the favor of a drop of water will be repaid with a gushing spring", which has informed China's response in donating medical supplies and sending medical teams to assist countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

"China has played a leadership role in the global fight against the pandemic. It has taken painful, strong but effective measures to stem the spread of the virus, bought precious time for the world and provided support to the affected countries," he said.

"History will record fairly and unambiguously China's sacrifices and contributions in the fight against this disease."

In the article, Xi makes several references to his concept of a "community of a shared future for mankind" as being relevant in the global response to the crisis and to other future challenges.

It has been a constant and consistent message of the president delivered in speeches at the Boao Forum for Asia in 2015, the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in January 2017, and the United Nations' Geneva office that same month.

Jacques, also author of When China Rules The World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, said it is an idea that now has acute relevance.

"It is a powerful idea and I think this crisis has showed it is now of its time. In the sense of common destiny and the ideas it is very different from the Western way of thinking," he said.

"It is rooted in the Chinese concept of tian xia, everyone under heaven, and informs China's relations with the rest of the world including initiatives such as the Belt and Road where China is having impact."

Alistair Michie, an expert on public diplomacy and China issues, said Xi showed "the highest statesmanship" in his article and had delivered a powerful message about how the world needs to come together as one.

"In the face of the most severe global crisis in over 100 years, it is important that Xi's concept of a community of a shared future reaches a bigger audience and is more fully understood in the West than it is now," he said.

"It is the only way humanity will find solutions to global challenges such as this pandemic, as well as climate change."

From China Daily,2020-04-21
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