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China Daily Global / 2020-03 / 30 / Page001

Xi's call for 'global war' on virus lauded

By CAO DESHENG in Wuhan | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-03-30 00:00

Analysts say solidarity and mutual help are essential for world to prevail over COVID-19

Amid the mounting risks that the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak has brought to the world, President Xi Jinping's call for "an all-out global war" against the pandemic at the G20 Extraordinary Leader's Summit on COVID-19 has great relevance to addressing the global public health crisis, observers said.

The messages of solidarity and mutual assistance that Xi sent at the videoconference for leaders of the Group of 20 countries on Thursday are the only way out for the world to prevail over the contagion and save the global economy from recession, they said.

The virtual summit, the first of its kind in the history of the G20, is the first major multilateral event that Xi participated in since the start of the outbreak. Xi has been using intensive telephone conversations, correspondence and meetings with leaders of foreign countries and international organizations to strengthen coordination between China and the rest of the world in the fight against the virus.

"At such a moment, it is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response," Xi said at the summit. "We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease."

Xi's remarks came as China's epidemic control is continuously improving and the trend of restoring normal work and life is being consolidated there. Globally, the virus has spread to 202 countries and regions, and more than 616,700 people have been infected, with the death toll exceeding 29,500, World Health Organization data showed on Sunday.

The economic toll is also climbing as more businesses and trade come to a halt amid massive lockdowns.

Tom Fowdy, a British political and international relations analyst, said the virus is a global challenge that requires a global response, since it does not discriminate in terms of nationality or culture.

Although some nations have endeavored to pin it on one specific country and seen opportunities in doing so, the outbreak harms the humanitarian, political, and economic interests of every nation, he said.

China has always advocated international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic. It has been endeavoring to coordinate policies and share information and experiences with other countries and international organizations.

The country has offered aid to 89 countries and four international organizations to contain the epidemic, including donations of millions of face masks or other medical supplies and equipment to countries in need and $20 million to the WHO.

China has also sent teams of medical experts to Iran, Iraq, Italy, Serbia, Cambodia and Pakistan as well as a joint task force to the United Kingdom to help those countries fight the pandemic. More medical teams are expected to be sent to countries in need.

China has held videoconferences with health experts from many international organizations and countries. It also shared technical documents, including epidemic prevention and control measures, as well as diagnosis and treatment plans, with more than 100 countries around the world and over 10 international and regional organizations.

Xi said during the summit that all nations must work together to build the strongest global network of disease control and treatment that the world has ever seen.

"China has set up its online COVID-19 knowledge center, which is open to all countries. It is imperative that countries pool their strengths and speed up research and development of drugs, vaccines and testing capabilities in the hope to achieve early breakthrough to the benefit of all."

Rana Mitter, a professor of history and politics of modern China at the University of Oxford, said Xi has rightly stressed that international cooperation is the only feasible way to defeat the coronavirus. The United Kingdom has made an important move toward this goal by pledging£210 million ($262 million) to developing a vaccine, and it is vitally important that all countries join in this important aim, Mitter said.

Djoomart Otorbaev, former prime minister of Kyrgyzstan and a distinguished professor of the Belt and Road School of Beijing Normal University, said only multilateral cooperation will be able to defeat the virus.

"In this critical time for all humanity, there shouldn't be any slight hesitation of choice between petty nationalism and international partnership," Otorbaev said in an article published on the website of China Global Television Network. Two pillars must serve as the foundation of an urgent action plan-fighting health threats and addressing economic challenges, he added.

Addressing Thursday's summit, Xi underlined the need for G20 members to leverage and coordinate their macro policies to counteract the negative impact and prevent the world economy from falling into recession, and he called on all G20 members to take collective action by cutting tariffs, removing barriers and facilitating the unfettered flow of trade.

Saying that G20 countries need to jointly keep global industrial and supply chains stable, Xi said China will increase its supply of pharmaceutical ingredients, daily necessities and anti-epidemic and other supplies to the international market. "China will contribute to a stable world economy by continuing to advance reform and opening-up, widen market access, improve the business environment and expand imports and outbound investment," he said.

Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and former vice-minister of commerce, told Xinhua News Agency that the world is at a crucial juncture of fighting the pandemic and stabilizing the global economy, and the international community expects the G20 to play a leading role.

The significance and urgency of Thursday's meeting have parallels with the global financial crisis in 2008, when meetings of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors were raised to the level of heads of state and government for better crisis coordination. However, experts warned that from an economic standpoint, the threat posed by the pandemic is much larger than the 2008 financial crisis.

"This pandemic will inevitably have an enormous impact on the economy," World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a video clip posted on the website of the organization. "Recent projections predict an economic downturn and job losses that are worse than the global financial crisis a dozen years ago."

British multinational asset management company Schroders has cut its growth forecast for the global economy to 2.3 percent this year. Moody's said the GDP of G20 countries will shrink 0.5 percent. Goldman Sachs predicted that the chances of a global economic recovery in the second half of the year are very slim, unless the number of COVID-19 cases falls sharply after April.

Zhao Minghao, a senior research fellow of international studies at the Charhar Institute, said it's not an exaggeration to say that mankind is facing the worst crisis since World War II.

Noting that the outbreak highlights the significant threat to humanity from nontraditional security challenges, Zhao said time and resources should no longer be wasted in strategic competition of major countries.

"Even as the US and the world face a worsening pandemic, some Washington elites are still seeking to intensify the confrontation between China and the US," he said.

Zhao expressed concern that without coordination between China and the US, the G20 and many international organizations cannot function effectively. "As a result, tens of thousands of people in the world will pay the price by losing their lives. We must not let that tragedy happen," he said.

Han Baoyi in London contributed to this story.


Patients infected with the novel coronavirus are evacuated aboard a military plane from Mulhouse in eastern France to the southwestern city of Bordeaux on Friday. With the pandemic affecting more than 200 countries and regions, President Xi Jinping has called for stepped-up international cooperation to fight the virus. DICOD/AP

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