Chinese President Xi Jinping File picture: Andy Wong/AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping File picture: Andy Wong/AP

China’s leadership during the Covid-19 crisis has been exemplary

By Paul Tembe Time of article published Jun 19, 2020

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China has an opportunity to be at the helm of a multipolar world in the post Covid-19 era. 

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic China has spared no efforts in assisting those most affected in both the developed and developing countries. China has delivered a considerable amount of critical medical supplies to more than 50 African countries and the African Union (AU), sent out at least seven teams of medical experts and provided nearly 400 training sessions for African nations. 

These interventions above are one aspect of the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). The BIR is a strategy launched in 2013 to connect global infrastructure and investments in over 70 countries and organisations. President Xi Jinping’s proposal for a medical silk road aims to strengthen and solidify cultures and civilizations. 

Similarly, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom, stressed that the world is seeing the collision of health epidemics (coronavirus, malaria and ebola) and climate catastrophe (drought and floods). These collisions have a more profound impact on human health, social fabric, security and the economy. This is why the ‘Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19’ launched on the 17th June 2020 by Presidents Xi and Cyril Ramaphosa, that puts health at the heart of economic and social development, is undoubtedly encouraging. 

In this regard it is gratifying that the recently released statement from President Xi and Ramaphosa, stressed that the “Covid-19 pandemic is a major challenge to humankind, and is the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II”.  

In the midst of some Western leaders pushing for narrow nationalism, racial bigotry and laager mentality, fortunately progressive forces are more interested in championing multilateralism, inclusivity and monetary support of multilateral organisations like WHO and United Nations (UN). The main reason it is no longer functional, viable and sustainable to prioritise narrow nationalism is because the Cold War binary analysis (Socialism versus Capitalism), in an interdependent world, these binary are false dichotomies and not consistent with the current trajectory of crises like Covid-19, intercontinental terrorism, transnational migration, gig-economies, income-wealth inequality.

These interconnectedness and interdependent crises in the words of the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan are problems that travel without passports or considerations of race, religion, ideology, socio-economic status, gender and technology accessibility. 

Given the fact that the crises we are dealing with affect every country almost without exception, China’s leadership during this, and beyond, the Covid-19 health and economic crisis is exemplary. 

The sustainability of humanity and surrounding ecosystem, is dependent not on narrow nationalism but on a community of a prosperous and shared future for humanity. These are the very sentiments shared among leaders attending the ‘Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19’. They expressed deep concern over the unprecedented, immediate and consequent challenges posed by the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The summit concluded by commending the UN Secretary-General for his leadership and voicing support for the WHO in its health initiatives that aim at making vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for Covid-19 accessible worldwide.

* Paul Tembe is Associate Professor at the Institute of African Studies Zhejiang Normal University. Jinhua, China. He is also based at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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