Amid global turbulence, China continues to calmly lead
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OPINION: Despite many becoming anxious and divided through the experience and aftermath of Covid-19, China continues to lead with calm, modesty and prudence, writes Wesley Seale.
Nelson Mandela, it is said, once experienced a serious bout of turbulence when he was flying. While his colleagues on the flight were panicking, Madiba sat still in his plane seat not flinching.
When the passengers finally disembarked, someone turned to Tata Madiba and asked him if he had not been afraid during the turbulence. “Of course! I was scared,” Madiba replied, “but when faced with a crisis, a leader never shows his emotions. He must keep calm so that he may send a message to those around him to remain calm.”
As the world experiences the crisis of Covid-19, vaccine nationalism and a slumping global economy, China has been the only leading power that has been able to remain calm.
As a result, a message has been sent to the rest of the emerging economies not to panic but simply to work together in dealing with these crises.
Addressing the recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Chinese President Xi Jinping said: “The UN should hold high the banner of true multilateralism and serve as the central platform for countries to jointly safeguard universal security, share development achievements and chart the course for the future of the world."
President Xi went further to call for a new type of international relations where mutual respect, equity, justice and win-win cooperation were the hallmarks.
In the face of these crises, China launched the Global Development Initiative, which President Xi explained was important because “development holds the key to people's well-being.”
“We need to increase input in development, advance on a priority basis cooperation on poverty alleviation, food security, Covid-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialisation, digital economy and connectivity, among other areas, and accelerate implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so as to build a global community of development with a shared future,” President Xi is reported to have said.
The GDI is a six-point plan which seeks to ensure development as a priority, but with a people-centred approach which must benefit all, with innovation whilst remaining committed to the cohesion between humans and the environment.
The Chinese leader also used this occasion of the 76th session of the UNGA to announce his country’s termination of constructing new coal-fired power projects abroad while pledging commitment to green and low-carbon energy.
President Xi went on to note that vaccination was a powerful weapon against Covid-19 while emphasising that China had already donated US$100 million towards Covax and 100 million doses of vaccines to developing countries.
The Chinese president also reiterated China’s goal of providing two billion doses of vaccines by the end of this year while pledging an additional US$3 billion in international assistance to developing countries in the next three years to fight Covid-19 and to promote socio-economic recovery.
Amidst the economic crisis, the challenges of Covid-19, the crisis of climate change and the lack of cooperation in fighting racism and discrimination, China is remaining calm and leading.
Marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said: “It is a shame that the United States and a few other Western countries chose to openly boycott and be absent from this important meeting. This only raises more doubts over their sincerity in fighting racism and their willingness to participate in international anti-racism cooperation.”
Chairman Mao once said: “we should be modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and serve the Chinese people heart and soul.”
Indeed, some five decades later the story of Nelson Mandela would exemplify that modesty, prudence whilst guarding against arrogance and rashness.
Despite many becoming anxious and divided through the experience and aftermath of Covid-19, China continues to lead with calm, modesty and prudence.
* Seale has a PhD in Chinese foreign policy from Beijing Foreign Studies University.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.