【凯原学者之声】徐小冰:China is leading by example

[ 作者]: [ 发布时间]: 2020-12-23 [ 来源]:

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China is leading by example

Time magazine has already named 2020 “the worst year ever”. This might well be a true reflection of the current American mood.

In 2020, US President Donald Trump’s administration let Covid-19 run unchecked at home and the US became the leading country in terms of infections and deaths, with more than 17 million cases and 310,000 deaths. In the meantime, the US continued to quit or inflict damage on important international institutions.

In a year that is bound to be remembered for the misery and chaos caused by the pandemic, the US notified the United Nations on July 6 of its exit from the World Health Organization. In a year when the world economy was hit hard, the US continued to cripple the World Trade Organization by blocking new appointments to the Appellate Body, the last member of which departed on November 30.

The US formally withdrew from the Paris climate agreement on November 4 and the Open Skies Treaty on November 22.Meanwhile, for China, 2020 was the year it led the world’s response to the pandemic.

Instead of being “China’s Chernobyl” – a term used by US national security adviser Robert O‘Brien to describe China’s handling of the pandemic – Beijing confronted the challenge head-on and led the world in identifying and fighting the pandemic.

Wuhan, my hometown, was the first to identify the coronavirus. It was the only city with a population of more than 10 million to be completely quarantined before the national Spring Festival holiday, and the lockdown lasted more than 2½ months.

While the individual, communal and national sacrifice was massive, so was China’s success. By quickly getting the pandemic under control within its borders, China brought hope to the world. It has provided badly needed assistance to the international community, which supported China when the epidemic began.

Soon after the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China published the Covid-19 gene sequence. So far, China has shared its experience by publishing eight versions of diagnosis and treatment protocol and seven versions of its epidemic prevention and control plan, sponsored more than 100 international expert video meetings and established an online knowledge centre to disseminate its Covid-19 experience.

China has provided anti-pandemic aid to more than 150 countries and nine international organisations, and has sent 36 medical teams to 34 countries to help with their race against the virus.

China has also supplied more than 200 billion masks, 2 billion items of personal protective equipment and 800 million coronavirus detection kits. Most importantly, it has firmly supported the WHO’s key role in the worldwide drive against the pandemic.

In addition to playing a leading role in international cooperation, China also leads the world in economic recovery. According to World Bank projections, it will be the only major economy to record GDP growth in 2020.

China’s foreign trade has also been resilient against the impact of the pandemic as well as the US trade war. For the first 11 months of 2020, China’s total foreign trade volume reached US$4.17 trillion. China also received nearly 900 billion yuan (US$137.8 billion) of foreign investment, a year-on-year increase of 6.3 per cent.

Based on such economic performance, China continues to lead the world in poverty alleviation. It has finally accomplished the historical mission of eliminating extreme poverty, an unprecedented contribution to global development.

It should be remembered that China was among the 15 states to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement on November 15, a strong move against unilateralism and protectionism, and a vigorous boost to regional trade.

China’s leadership in 2020 has not come about by accident or without challenge. China leads not simply because the US has been quitting. In fact, while China leads the world to fight the pandemic and improve the global economy, the US merely leads its allies to contain China.

In the past four years under the Trump administration, the US has played the Taiwan card, the Hong Kong card, Xinjiang card and even the virus card, attacking China for its failure to control the pandemic at home.

It has initiated a trade war, a tech war, lawfare – including the Meng Wanzhou case, coronavirus liability lawsuits and numerous legislative and executive orders – and even diplomatic warfare in the form of shutting down China’s consulate in Houston. The US has shown no mercy in its China-bashing in 2020.

Thanks to US voters, who have had enough of Trump’s presidency, Sino-US relations now have a chance to adjust as there are indications that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration might change course in international affairs. Biden reportedly plans to rejoin the Paris agreement and the WHO, for instance.

However, few expect a sea change in the relationship as the US seems divided on everything but China containment.

To summarise, 2020 has seen China leading and the US retreating. In 2021, under the Biden administration, can China and the US both lead, for example on a Covid-19 vaccine and climate change? Will the eagle continue to develop new battlefields to attack the dragon?Of course, America has every right to be great again, just as China has every right to pursue its Chinese dream. Will they compete instead of fighting in chasing their respective grand dreams? Let’s wait and see.

 

 

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