Toward the post-pandemic world
By Zhong Cheng  ·  2021-07-20  ·   Source: NO.29 JULY 22, 2021


A man receives a jab of a Chinese-made COVID-19  vaccine in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on July 13 (XINHUA) 

After the scientific victory of developing vaccines, stopping the COVID-19 pandemic is now financially and pragmatically feasible. The only obstacle now is a lack of international political will and cooperation. 

Vaccine challenges 

According to recent World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) studies, to defeat COVID-19 countries need to aim to vaccinate at least 40 percent of their population by the end of this year and 60 percent by the middle of 2022. This will require upfront funding of $50 billion, not just pledges made at conferences. The reports add that funding should prioritize providing facilities for testing, treating and preventing infection as well as increasing the capacity to produce and distribute vaccines. Currently, poorer countries, including large parts of Africa, have a serious lack of access to vaccines, whereas some rich nations have secured an estimated 10 times their actual need.

To address this imbalance in vaccination, we must move beyond vaccine nationalism by increasing vaccine production capacity and distribution. The world should deliver the outcomes of the Global Health Summit at a faster pace, step up cooperation on vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, coordinate COVID-response efforts, and provide stronger support for developing countries. The World Health Organization's (WHO) effort in delivering the COVAX international vaccine sharing program needs to be supported to close the global immunization gap.

China has honored its promise of making vaccines a global public good. Despite the enormous need for vaccination at home, China has provided 480 million doses of vaccine to nearly 100 countries. Next, China will launch the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation to promote a fair international distribution of vaccines to build a global shield against the virus. It will also do its best to make vaccines more accessible and affordable to other developing countries. 

Disparity in recovery 

Recent evidence suggests some countries recover well, and others flounder. Economic activity is returning to full steam in countries that were relatively successful in fighting the spread from the outset, but many economies are likely to languish. Zambia and Argentina, for example, have already defaulted on their debt; Latin America's economy contracted by 7.7 percent in 2020; the Philippines and India registered growth rates of minus 9.5 percent and minus 9.6 percent, respectively; and the World Bank estimates that up to 40 million people in Africa have been forced into extreme poverty.

This disparity in economic recovery is only adding to the already existing disparities in the distribution of wealth between developed and developing nations. This "great divergence" is also occurring within individual economies as well. Regional, racial and gender income disparities are growing more acute. While many businesses have sustained major losses or filed for bankruptcy, other sectors of the economy, like pharmaceuticals, digital platforms, networking technology, have greatly benefited. 

Concerted efforts are urgently needed to promote sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. Education and healthcare also need to be improved to enhance people's wellbeing. The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, seeks to pursue open, green and clean development, and people-centered sustainable growth.

Cross-border and interregional infrastructure construction, industrialization, job creation and agricultural modernization are necessary to facilitate economic development and integration. In the post-pandemic world, China will continue to actively implement the measures announced by President Xi Jinping at the Global Health Summit, to synergize infrastructure development plans, work with participating countries on transport infrastructure, economic corridors, and industrial cooperation zones to improve global connectivity, so that more countries and peoples will be able to share the fruits of development.

China will continue to develop the China-Europe Rail Express, promote port and shipping cooperation and build a silk road in the air. Embracing digital transformation and the development of digital industries, China will accelerate the building of a digital silk road, and make smart connectivity a reality in the near future.

To promote cooperation on green development, China is striving to deliver its commitment of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. It will host the 15th meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) to promote global biodiversity and protect the global ecosystem. To this end, the country will put forth the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development to inject new impetus into building a green silk road. It will also increase cooperation in green infrastructure, energy and finance by developing more environmentally friendly projects.

It is supporting parties to the Belt and Road Energy Partnership in enhancing cooperation on green energy, and is encouraging businesses involved in Belt and Road cooperation to fulfill their social responsibilities and improve their environmental, social and governance performance.

Global governance 

The post-pandemic world also needs to join together to oppose the dangerous practice of stoking division and confrontation. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War that inflicted severe suffering on the world. Learning from history, inciting confrontation and division should be opposed. We must categorically reject bloc confrontation, power politics, and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. The world should respect diversity of civilizations, promote the common values of humanity, make progress through exchanges and mutual learning, respect the explorations of different peoples to turn values into reality, to find development paths suited to their national situation, thereby translating the common values of humanity into the practice of individual countries to serve the interests of their own people.

In the new international order, the world community should build solidarity and allow the UN to play a critical coordinating role in world affairs. Disputes should be resolved through dialogue, mediation, consultation and other political means.

The root causes of much of the confrontation, conflicts and governance dilemmas in the world are a lack of adherence to multilateralism and a disrespect of international norms. Upholding and practicing multilateralism is the only way to tackle complex issues and security challenges.

The hegemonic system advocated by the U.S. is an attempt to impose its own will, and replace commonly accepted international law and norms. The

post-pandemic world should be a UN-centered international system; an international order jointly upheld and based on international law with rules universally observed and founded on the principles of the UN Charter. Multilateralism is not a high-sounding slogan, still less a facade for unilateralism.

President Xi, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in his speech marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, gave an account of the accomplishments of the CPC leading the Chinese people through the past 100 years of struggle, and made a solemn declaration that China has realized its first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and is confidently working toward its second centenary goal of becoming a great modern socialist country in all respects.

The CPC has persisted in closely associating the future of the Chinese people with that of other peoples of the world. China is committed to the common values of humanity including peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom.

Facing the challenges beyond COVID-19, it is important for the world to accelerate the layout of cooperation for common development, build consensus and synergy, shelve differences and work together to give a greater boost to post-pandemic recovery.

Sympathy and understanding are not enough to eliminate the challenges. In the post-pandemic world new thoughts and approaches are needed. China is willing to work with its international partners to play a positive role in promoting peace and security in building a community with a shared future for humanity.

The author is an op-ed contributor to Beijing Review and an expert on international studies 

Copyedited by Ryan Perkins 

Comments to yanwei@bjreview.com 

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