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Prescription for anxieties that cause the manifold ills of protectionism: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-01-17 20:43

Aerial photo taken on May 26, 2021 shows the Yangpu international container port at Yangpu economic development zone in South China's Hainan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

The world is paying a heavy price for the divisive, unilateral and hegemonic endeavors of the developed countries, which are trying to lead the world back to the future of a Cold War. Because of their actions, economic uncertainties and security risks are on the rise, concerted actions to control the pandemic are lacking and the North-South development gap continues to widen.

These are troubled and unpredictable times, and the international community as a whole stands at a consequential branching on the forking river of history. Rather than retreating into the past and the promise of a familiar, yet still uncertain future, countries need to have confidence that they will share better days if they let multilateralism light the way ahead.

On Monday, in the speech he delivered by video at this year's World Economic Forum virtual session, President Xi Jinping offered encouragement and optimism that the world can clear the shadow of the pandemic by doing everything necessary so that "the sunshine of hope" can light up the future of humanity. Xi made it clear that how quickly the world can adapt to the changes and weather through the public health crisis depends on the extent to which it recognizes that humanity is a community with a shared future in the face of grave and common challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Answers must be given to the major, urgent questions of how to beat the pandemic and how to build the post-COVID world, he stressed.

By offering an in-depth understanding of China's development path, he also offered the lessons of the country's experience and the wisdom it has gained from them as reference for the world in overcoming what may appear to be insurmountable challenges. He said that countries should not be intimidated by immediate difficulties as new situations and opportunities are born from changing circumstances.

Those insights, born of acuity and discernment, should not fall on deaf ears. Countries should bear in mind that China was the only major economy to register positive growth in 2020 in the wake of the outbreak of the virus. Moreover, that momentum extended to last year, as the country's gross domestic product grew 8.1 percent year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, with China's foreign trade surging about 20 percent year-on-year hitting more than $6 trillion, highlighting its indispensable role in sustaining global supply chains.

An emphasis on people's well-being and realizing the desire for a better life are at the heart of China's national development endeavors and this is a crucial orientation for global governance if it is to meet the various tests of the times. No person or country should be left behind as the world weeds out the old and brings in the new in pursuit of humanity's essential low-carbon transition.

Xi's speech should serve to inject important impetus into the strengthening of global cooperation. It is not a choice between two sides, but a choice between the right and wrong.

Cooperation and collaborative innovation are crucial to reinvigorate the global development cause for, as he said, protectionism will protect no party.

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