Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called for joint efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring fair distribution of vaccines and expedited inoculation across the world, even as he warned against any blame game and the Cold War mentality in an apparent reference to the US.
He said that holding each other back or shifting blame would only lead to a needless delay in the response and also distract us from the main objective.
In a special address on ‘state of the world’ on the first day of the week-long online Davos Agenda summit of the World Economic Forum, he said that humanity will certainly move on but the world needs to jointly defeat the pandemic.
“A giant ship is brave enough to brave the storm. Pandemic is proving to be a protracted one. It impacts health and the economy. Holding each other back and shifting blames, will only shift our objectives,” he said.
Favouring further opening up of the world economy and greater cooperation, he said, “We should remove barriers, not erect walls. We should open up, not close off. We should seek integration, not decoupling. This is the way to build an open world economy.” “If major economies slam on the brakes or take a U-turn in their monetary policies, there would be serious negative spillovers. They would present challenges to global economic and financial stability, and developing countries would bear the brunt of it,” Jinping said.
He said we need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes.
“Our world today is far from being tranquil; rhetorics that stoke hatred and prejudice abound. Acts of containment, suppression or confrontation arising thereof do all harm, not the least good, to world peace and security. History has proved time and again that confrontation does not solve problems; it only invites catastrophic consequences,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the US, the Chinese President said protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one as they ultimately hurt the interests of others as well as one’s own.
“Even worse are the practices of hegemony and bullying, which run counter to the tide of history. Naturally, countries have divergences and disagreements between them,” he said, while calling for new drivers of economic growth to promote steady and robust global economic recovery.
The Chinese president said some developing countries have fallen back into poverty due to the pandemic while some developed countries are also facing hard times.
“Developed nations need responsible economic policies, should control spillover effects of policies to avoid impacting developing countries,” he said while asserting that China will continue to open up and is committed to economic and market reforms.
He also called for global rules on the digital economy and greater information sharing across the world.
“The world is undergoing major changes, unseen in a century and how to beat the pandemic and build a post-COVID world are a common concern for people around the world,” he said while addressing the summit through video conferencing.
The deadly virus, which was first reported in Chinese city Wuhan in late 2019, has so far seen over 32 crore confirmed cases globally with more than 55 lakh deaths.
The international community has fought a tenacious battle against COVID-19 and the concerted efforts of the international community mean major progress has been made in the global fight against the pandemic, Jinping said.
Emphasising the importance of vaccines, he called for ensuring their equitable distribution, accelerating vaccination and closing the global immunisation gap.
The World Health Organization has also been criticising the unequal distribution of vaccines and has been asking manufacturers and other countries to contribute to COVAX, an UN-backed programme for supplying vaccines to poor countries. So far, it has delivered 1 billion doses.
According to WHO, 36 of its 194 member countries have vaccinated less than 10 per cent of population and 88 have inoculated under 40 per cent.
According to the latest Chinese government data, China’s economy grew 8.1 per cent in 2021, exceeding its own target of 6 per cent, despite challenges, including epidemic resurgences and a complicated external environment.
The Chinese economy, which was the first to be hit by the coronavirus and early to recover from the pandemic had grown by 2.3 per cent in 2020, the lowest annual growth rate in 45 years.
In his address at the WEF event, Jinping said China will provide another one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to African countries and 150 million doses to ASEAN countries.
He said China will celebrate the advent of spring in the lunar new year, the Year of the Tiger, in two weeks’ time.
“In Chinese culture, tiger symbolises bravery and strength, as the Chinese people often refer to spirited dragon and dynamic tiger, or soaring dragon and leaping tiger. To meet the severe challenges facing humanity, we must add wings to the tiger and act with the courage and strength of the tiger to overcome all obstacles on our way forward,” he said.
He said facts have shown once again that amidst the raging torrents of a global crisis, countries are not riding separately in some 190 small boats, but are rather all in a giant ship on which our shared destiny hinges.
“Small boats may not survive a storm, but a giant ship is strong enough to brave a storm. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, major progress has been made in the global fight against the pandemic.
“That said, the pandemic is proving a protracted one, resurging with more variants and spreading faster than before. It poses a serious threat to people’s safety and health, and exerts a profound impact on the global economy,” he said.
He said acts of single-mindedly building “exclusive yards with high walls” or “parallel systems”, of enthusiastically putting together exclusive small circles or blocs that polarise the world will gravely undercut global efforts to tackle common challenges.
He also cautioned against efforts towards overstretching the concept of national security to hold back economic and technological advances of other countries, and of fanning ideological antagonism and politicising or weaponising economic, scientific and technological issues.
“We should choose dialogue over confrontation, inclusiveness over exclusion, and stand against all forms of unilateralism, protectionism, hegemony or power politics,” he said.