By: Jia Jinjing Source: Global Times Published: 2020-04-27
A patchwork of approaches adopted by governments across the world in the fight against the coronavirus have led to differing results, proving that isolating and quarreling are pointless and harmful in the face of a global crisis, and only through cooperation can we defeat our invisible enemy. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global cooperation mechanism that has proven capable of saving lives from the deadly virus and bringing more opportunities for the world's economic recovery.
Public health has always been an important area of BRI cooperation, which has already played an active role in combating global health crises such as the most recent Ebola outbreak. China and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 agreed to establish the "Health Silk Road." During a video conference on Friday, former politicians and experts from various countries thanked China for its aid in fighting the pandemic. They noted that, at this junction, all countries should unite and overcome our shared difficulties.
While the coronavirus crisis has led BRI participants like Pakistan, Serbia and Ethiopia to publicly praise China, a group of US senators on Friday urged the Trump administration to strike a blow to the BRI in the wake of China's first quarterly GDP contraction on record and while many BRI participants face financial difficulties under the virus impact, according to media reports. This is just the latest in a series of attempts from certain Western politicians and media to slander the BRI.
However, all negative accusations have proven groundless. China's decisive and effective measures to combat the virus have enabled it to effectively control the outbreak in the shortest possible time and achieve economic recovery while preventing a resurgence in infections. Under the BRI cooperation mechanism, many countries have received support from China in both experience and medical supplies. Masks, protective gowns, testing kits, thermometers... at this critical time in the virus' global spread, medical materials made in China are being shipped all over the world.
We can clearly see that the world's current fight may be the first in decades that has not been led by the US. Progress in the fight against the pandemic in countries such as Italy, the first G7 country to join the BRI, and Iran, an important BRI participant, is inseparable from China's medical supplies, personnel support and experience sharing. Therefore, world leaders must abandon trivial political differences, make concerted efforts to fight the pandemic, and put people's lives before politics or money.
After the coronavirus crisis is resolved, BRI cooperation is expected to lead the global economic recovery and development. China has successfully combated its epidemic and has taken the lead in production resumption. The Chinese economy's performance in March recovered significantly from February. In terms of foreign trade, ASEAN surpassed the EU in the first quarter to become China's largest trading partner. As the world's second-largest economy and an important part of the global industrial chain, China's economic recovery is bound to benefit more countries. The reconstruction of the global industrial chain and the global supply chain after the pandemic is also expected to bring greater opportunities for BRI participants.
The author is assistant dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.
A distinguished panel of experts attending an e-symposium organized by TRENDS Research & Advisory on Wednesday (September 9, 2020) urged the media and think-tanks worldwide to engage more for the cause of public good during times of crisis. Dr. Wang Wen was invited to delivery a keynote speech.