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International solidarity is only way forward

By Osidipe Adekunle | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-30 08:54
Zeng Kerong (second from right), general manager of HNRB's East African Regional Center, and Ababu Namwamba (center), chief administrative secretary of Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pose for a photo at a handover ceremony for medical and protective materials donated by Chinese companies in Nairobi, Kenya's capital, on June 11, 2020. (From left: Solomon Kitungu, principal secretary of Kenya's State Department of Transport; Susan Mochache, principal secretary of Kenya's Ministry of Health; Ababu Namwamba; Zeng Kerong; Zhuo Wu, chairman of Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce). [Photo by Liu Hongjie/China Daily]

The adoption of unilateralism and the arousal of nationalistic flames by some sections of the global community not only hinder the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but also endanger the capacity of the global community to respond to such challenges in the future.

From this perspective, the recent Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 could not have been held at a better time than now, when global uncertainty continues to prevail as nations grapple with this deadly public health challenge and attempt to restart their economies.

The joint statement issued by the leaders after the meeting offers valuable insights into the significance of coordinated leadership in overcoming challenges.

The summit's position on multilateral collaboration in tackling global challenges is vital in charting a new course for a post-pandemic world order.

Knowing that public health systems in the Global South-which includes countries located in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean-are ill-equipped to withstand the onslaught of public health challenges like this, the decision to embrace collaboration, intensified international cooperation and solidarity to contain the pandemic is a move forward in global governance and cooperation for development in the public health sector.

On the other hand, the efforts of leaders on the continent with assistance from China have, to a large extent, helped to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

It therefore behooves China and Africa to consolidate on successful collaboration against the pandemic, address and overcome inadvertent differences, and resolve to build a more resilient common platform of prediction, detection and management of public health diseases that pose danger to the global community.

The assistance China is offering in enhancing the capacity of public health systems in Africa through the construction of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention points to the robust results to be expected as the leadership on both sides continues to engage in constant communication, knowledge and sharing of expertise.

An important resolution in the joint statement issued by the leaders after the summit was the firm resolution to reject politicization of the pandemic, discrimination and stigmatization, uphold mutual respect between China and African countries, and firmly oppose any form of interference in the internal affairs of each side by external forces.

Worth noting was the commitment on both sides to not only protect the health and security of their citizens, but also to promote the use of Chinese and African traditional medicine.

As the global race for a vaccine and cure for COVID-19 continues, it is important for scientists on both sides and globally to equally give attention to alternative medicines like Chinese and African traditional medicine, which have been effectively put to use in the fight against the coronavirus in China and some African countries.

This also highlights the need for global agencies like the World Health Organization to provide adequate support for research and development of traditional medicines in the treatment of diseases of this nature.

The global community needs to inject new life into the ideal of global governance in preparing for, managing and living after the occurrence of any global challenge. Leadership plays a significant role in providing direction, assurance and resilience in such times.

The lessons learned from the experiences of countries in successful containment of the pandemic should become reference points from which inspiration could be drawn for future handling of similar outbreaks.

The emphasis on human lives ahead of other things remains the hub around which other factors revolve. This is followed by exemplary leadership styles that not only coordinate national response but equally marshal a regional and/or global collaboration for timely and effective response to such a pandemic.

The extraordinary China-Africa collaboration in fighting COVID-19 has set the ball rolling for developing countries in promoting a global discourse on collaboration in global governance in the new era.

In doing this, China and Africa have once again set an example regarding mutual benefits and equality in international cooperation. These are the core principles of China-Africa relations and represent the key attributes needed to fight and speedily recover from the pandemic, thereby promoting speedy global economic recovery.

The author is a researcher at the Research Center for China-Africa Education Cooperation of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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