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Time to join hands to fight epidemics

By Yue Xiaoyong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-16 07:10

Francesco Rocca, president of the Italian Red Cross Society (sixth from right in the back row) and nine Chinese medical experts pose in Rome on March 12. [Photo/Xinhua]

It has become clear that countries across the world need to further deepen cooperation to win the global battle against the novel coronavirus outbreak, and raise global awareness in order to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

China has used strong measures to contain the novel coronavirus epidemic. Working with friends and partners, it has set excellent examples of global cooperation. For instance, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention held a videoconference on the novel coronavirus in Beijing on March 3, which, apart from CDC representatives, was attended by officials and experts from the National Health Commission and hospitals, Foreign Ministry and customs officials, and diplomats from Chinese embassies abroad. Shanghai Cooperation Organization representatives, too, attended the conference, as did officials from countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Turkmenistan.

An apt example of global cooperation

So far at least seven similar video-conferences have been held by China, in which public health officials and experts from China, the European Union, ASEAN, African Union, SCO, Caribbean Community and Southern Pacific countries have participated.

The Chinese leaders should be commended for swinging into action once they recognized the serious implications of the novel coronavirus worldwide and for working with the World Health Organization, other global organizations and countries to contain the epidemic.

The Chinese experts briefed those conferences about how they are combating the disease, and the participants discussed ways and means of working together to contain the outbreak and strengthen cooperation and exchanges. Indeed, China is ready to deepen cooperation with the rest of the world to contain the epidemic, as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in an article, "Resolutely defeating the COVID-19 outbreak and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind", published in Qiushi journal on March 1.

Wang also said the outbreak is yet another sobering reminder that in the age of globalization, the future of nations is closely interlinked and developing a community with a shared future for humanity is the only viable way to build a better future. Stressing that China will use the global response to the epidemic to call for strengthened global coordination and cooperation for the well-being and health of all, Wang said the Chinese government and people, while working vigorously to contain the epidemic at home, are also trying to help other countries and regions in their fight against the virus in line with China's global and regional leadership role.

On the other hand, Chinese people are grateful for the help offered by the international community in its fight against the outbreak-70 countries and nine international organizations have provided assistance for China, including collaborative exchanges focused on cooperation and information sharing on scientific research, so as to develop a vaccine for the virus.

World needs better coordination, not bias

Yet, despite enlightened international public opinion calling for deepening cooperation with China, some biased and arrogant individuals suffering from Cold War mentality have been attacking China with "political viruses". The international community should especially guard against such naysayers at a time when the world is battling a public health crisis and is in urgent need of better coordination and deeper cooperation.

The efforts of China in the fight against the virus have been widely recognized. As Jasna Plevnik, founder and vice-president of Geo-economics Forum in Croatia, wrote in an article, "Fight against virus will be uncertain without cooperation of China, US", published in the newspaper Vecernji List (Croatia Evening News), the fight against the virus has strengthened China's position as a global power. In fact, China has demonstrated that it is well prepared for global leadership, which even the WHO has acknowledged. And many European friends have told me that they are amazed at China's high mobilization capacity, especially building two large hospitals in Wuhan, Hubei province, in less than two weeks.

US officials' views prejudiced and harmful

In her article, Plevnik was particularly scornful of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. At the Munich Security Conference held recently, Pompeo and Esper, despite being aware of the delicate situation China was in, attacked it and threatened European Union member states that the US would discontinue security cooperation if they allowed Huawei to help build their 5G networks. She criticized US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, too, for his grossly biased view that the virus would help accelerate the return of manufacturing units from China to the United States.

Also, a report issued on Feb 28 by an international team that visited China and was headed by Bruce Aylward, a distinguished Canadian epidemiologist and deputy director-general of the WHO, said China had achieved real success in its efforts to contain the epidemic. The team, comprising 13 foreign and 12 Chinese experts, inspected five cities to study the state of the epidemic and effectiveness of China's response.

According to a news briefing given by some of the foreign experts and posted on the website of Science on March 2, the visit helped the team to understand how China achieved what many public health experts thought was impossible: containing the spread of the highly contagious epidemic. "China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile, and aggressive disease containment effort in history," the report says. It also praises the "commitment of the Chinese people to collective action in the face of this common threat", with Aylward saying China's success so far should have given other countries a headstart in the fight against the virus.

So, this is the best opportunity for all countries, as part of a global community of shared future, to fight against the challenge together. There is no doubt that the Chinese people, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China with Xi Jinping as the core, have made remarkable contributions to the global fight against the epidemic. Yet to win this war, the Chinese people and government must firmly press on while also learning from the experiences of friends and partners around the world.

On March 12, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, while addressing the media, declared the novel coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. The essential lesson from the outbreak is clear: all countries and peoples must fight against the virus together. They must transcend differences of politics, cultures and ideologies, and abandon their Cold War mentality, and join hands to defeat the virus and shape a secure community of shared future.

The author is a senior research fellow at and director of the Center for Global Studies, National Academy of Development and Strategy, Renmin University of China and a China Forum expert of CISS. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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