Xinhua Commentary: A call for global action for common health-Xinhua

Xinhua Commentary: A call for global action for common health

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2020-03-23 21:33:20

by Xinhua writer Shi Xiaomeng

BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- From the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 to the 2008 global financial meltdown, humanity has been no stranger to daunting challenges so far this century.

Coincidentally, those challenges often pop up around the turn of a decade.

This time around, a previously unknown coronavirus has caught the world off guard. As the infectious disease it causes, COVID-19 has spread to over 180 countries and regions, posing an unprecedented risk to global health security.

While nations around the world are racing against time to contain the virus and uncover a remedy, the pandemic has also prompted a time for reflection.

"What has happened to the world and how should we respond?" That was the question posed to the world by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN Office at Geneva in 2017.

In fact, Xi tried to answer that penetrating question as early as seven years ago, when he first put forward on an international occasion the idea of building a community with a shared future for mankind, the theme of his Geneva speech.

"It is a world where countries are linked with and dependent on one another at a level never seen before. Mankind, by living in the same global village within the same time and space where history and reality meet, have increasingly emerged as a community of common destiny in which every one has in himself a little bit of others," Xi said in his speech at Moscow State Institute of International Relations on March 23, 2013.

When addressing the general debate of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2015, Xi set forth a five-point proposal on how to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and create a community with a shared future for mankind, with partnership, security, development, culture and ecology being the key aspects.

Those remarks ring even truer today as the strike of the coronavirus pandemic has tied together the fates of all people inhabiting this global village once again.

Viruses know neither borders nor ethnicities, attacking anyone anytime and anywhere. And once they strike, no country can stand alone in this age of super-connectivity.

Since the outbreak was first reported in China, Beijing has all along held fast to Xi's idea that mankind is a community with a shared future.

To protect the health of its own people and everyone on this blue planet, China rolled out a chain of unprecedented measures to contain the fast spread of the virus. Such efforts and sacrifice bought valuable time for the world to better prepare.

Bearing in mind its responsibility as a member of the global village, China has been sharing information and cooperating with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries in a timely, open and transparent manner.

When China was in the most difficult time of its epidemic fight, countries around the world extended a helping hand. Now that the pathogen has gone global, China has been rushing to the aid of those in urgent need by offering medical supplies, sharing containment experience, and sending teams of medical experts.

As Xi said, solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapon to tackle public health crises.

However, as the global fight against the pandemic rages on, some politicians in the West chained to a zero-sum mentality are seeking to weaponize the coronavirus to stigmatize China and hype up "de-coupling" theories. Their attempts to spread this "political virus" will only sow division and hate at a time when solidarity and trust are badly needed.

Opponents of globalization have a new opportunity to bolster their protectionist bent. They argue that globalization expedites massive flows of people and an international division of labor, and thus it is to blame for the proliferation of the pathogen and the strain in global supply chains.

Yet as Xi pointed out in his landmark speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in 2017, "it is true that economic globalization has created new problems, but this is no justification to write economic globalization off completely." The world, as he suggested, "should adapt to and guide economic globalization, cushion its negative impact, and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations."

One major problem exposed in the ongoing pandemic is a deficit in global public health governance, which resulted in a mainly country-based approach so far when the common health of global villagers is under assault.

There is an urgent need for governments to better coordinate their respective prevention and control measures to avoid trans-border spread as the epidemic has become global.

Due to the absence of a global pool of emergency medical supplies, countries are tightening their control on exports of masks and protective suits, leaving places with fragile health system, such as Africa, even more vulnerable.

Moreover, countries should also pool their resources to develop drugs and vaccines as early as possible.

In the long run, a global architecture for the common health of mankind should be strengthened so as to better respond to future health emergencies. To do that, the UN and the WHO should be given a core role.

Along with joint efforts against the pandemic, the international community should do everything in its capacity to prevent this global health crisis from dragging down the global economy.

As Xi told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a recent phone call, in an era of economic globalization, COVID-19 will not be the world's last major emergency, and various traditional and non-traditional security issues will constantly bring about new tests.

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the world demonstrated great international solidarity against terrorism.

In the aftermath of the 2008 international financial crisis, leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies came together for the first time.

Now the G20 has become a main forum for international cooperation on financial and economic issues and a primary platform for global economic governance.

Today, as the world jointly battles the coronavirus, it can be a desirable place for countries to build solidarity and seek a global approach to both the health and economic crises.

For our shared future, we brave human beings always emerge stronger from a crisis. And for the common health of mankind, the pandemic should serve as a call for action.