China role in the global fight against virus

Chen Kangling
Growing attention is now focused on China, where the epidemic has been brought under effective control.
Chen Kangling

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently raised the global risk level of novel coronavirus to “very high” and the world is now in the grip of a pandemic, with the latest number of confirmed cases already exceeding 330,000 in over 100 countries and regions.

Given the increasing uncertainties in the situation confronting many countries, growing attention is now focused on China, where the epidemic has been brought under effective control.

Bruce Aylward, WHO’s assistant director-general, after concluding an inspection mission to China, commented that China’s response strategy is effective and the world needs its experience.

However, due to differences in political systems, governance concepts, mobilization capabilities, economic resilience and cultural traditions, it is difficult to expect many other countries to fully copy the Chinese practice.

For instance, during the past month or so, the three world-class luxury cruise ships Diamond Princess, Wistedan and Costella Serena had been dealt with very differently in terms of COVID-19 control in Japan, Cambodia and China.

“China’s counterattack can be replicated, but it will require speed, money, imagination and political courage,” Aylward said in an interview.

As the recent Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 points out, while “China’s uncompromising and rigorous use of non-pharmaceutical measures to contain transmission of the COVID-19 virus in multiple settings provides vital lessons for the global response, much of the global community is not yet ready, in mindset and materially, to implement the measures that have been employed to contain COVID-19 in China. These are the only measures that are currently proven to interrupt or minimize transmission chains in humans.”

Solidarity and collaboration

WHO recommends that the immediate priority for the international community is to “recognize that true solidarity and collaboration is essential between nations to tackle the common threat that COVID-19 represents and operationalize this principle.”

At this critical stage of global epidemic control, it is important for China to lend a helping hand to the many countries in need, by giving new meaning to our traditional values, in our endeavor to build a community of shared future for mankind. Armed with this vision we should pay particular attention to the following aspects.

First, while it is important for us to “repay” those countries that have helped us, it is also imperative for China to take the lead in information sharing with all countries and in the promotion of proven practice in tackling the epidemic.

Secondly, given the orderly resumption of production on all fronts in China, it is important to bear in mind the spirit of peaceful cooperation, openness and tolerance, mutual learning and mutual benefit.

As China continues to be a powerful engine in terms of economic cooperation and development, it should play a major role in stabilizing global financial order and in providing sufficient medical supplies for domestic and foreign production.

It is worth noting that as the development and progress of the digital economy can somewhat cushion the impact of the epidemic, joint construction of the digital BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) expects to lead to more tangible economic and social benefits.

Thirdly, it is important to carry forward the Chinese li and yue (rituals and music) spirit of generosity and order. In the face of this epidemic, the panic, rumors and discrimination fueled by some countries with ulterior motives are no less virulent than the epidemic.

Therefore we must resolutely fight those who spread lies, as they are detrimental to the anti-virus solidarity. Hence the need to tell the China story well, and to have the China voice heard.

There is also the need to further promote Chinese wisdom as evidenced in the concept of benevolence, “courtesy demands reciprocity,” and the harmony between rituals and music, in a bid to achieve spiritual purity and tranquility in this difficult time.

China’s concerted efforts to tackle the epidemic have fully proved that “in unity lies strength.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently said in Geneva that he wants to express his gratitude to all those who currently live in China and those who cannot lead a normal life because they are contributing to all humanity.

We have reason to believe that, with China playing a more active role fighting COVID-19, the current global crisis would be defused before too long.

Chen Kangling is an assistant professor at the China Institute, Fudan University.

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