Deepen global cooperation to restore normalcy

By Mahendra Subedi

IN his address to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video link late last month, President Xi Jinping made some pragmatic proposals which could help the world win the battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic. With the virus has claimed more than 1.04 million lives and infected over 35.65 million people across the world, many developed and developing countries are struggling to contain the pandemic.
Against this backdrop, Xi said:”Facing the virus, we should enhance solidarity to get through this together. We should follow the guidance of science, give full play to the leading role of the World Health Organization, and launch a joint international response to beat this pandemic.”
The virus is not showing any signs of retreating, and the epicenter of the pandemic has shifted to the United States, India and some Latin American countries, while some European countries are witnessing a second wave of infections. Indeed, the pandemic is the greatest challenge for humankind economically, socially and in terms of health with job losses becoming the most acute problem facing poor economies.
Tens of millions of migrant workers are risking their lives in search of work in economies where industries have already been paralyzed. Likewise, millions of low-skilled workers in many countries have been either laid off or forced to accept pay cuts, or reduction in working hours and thus lower wages, making them more vulnerable to medical and other emergencies. Researchers estimate that the global public health crisis is likely to reverse the hard-earned achievements made by some countries in the past decade.
The pandemic has brought sufferings to all but some countries and people have been affected more than others. The condition of millions of peoples in poor economies is worse, as they have not only lost their jobs but also are uncertain about an economic revival.
In many countries, domestic consumption and public spending have shrunk, and state treasuries are gradually emptying out. Which means small and developing economies face bleaker days ahead even though the rate of the infection has slowed. The pandemic has already made the UN Sustainable Development Goals even more challenging for the less-developed economies, particularly those in South Asia and Africa, to achieve. Also, agricultural output is expected to drop and the poverty rate likely to increase, with social and economic development of the low-income group, especially women and girls, coming to a grinding halt.
The World Food Programme has said that, unless swift action is taken, about 265 million people in low-and middle-income countries could face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Similarly, the World Bank projected in June that 71-100 million Indians would be pushed into extreme poverty this year. This shows how catastrophic COVID-19 could be for millions of poor and vulnerable people.
The pandemic has also had a huge impact on the European Union and the United States, with the latter already recording more 208,000-plus deaths and facing an economic slowdown.
The tragedy becomes even more painful when some leaders try to politicize the novel coronavirus. Instead of building a common front to fight the virus, some countries’ leaders have been trying to downplay the pandemic threat and blaming other countries for the global spread of the virus.
It is in this context that Xi said at the UN General Assembly that any attempt to politicize the issue or stigmatize another country must be rejected and condemned.
For the global anti-virus cooperation to advance, countries across the world need to deepen policy coordination. The sooner the countries shoulder this responsibility, the earlier they will emerge out of the pandemic.
International development partners, multilateral agencies and other organizations should work together in order to strengthen the fight against the pandemic. China has effectively contained the virus, which is evident from the National Day holiday travel rush, as well as the help it has extended to other countries to win their respective battles against the virus, by supplying medicines, medical equipment and expert advice. With almost all sections of the economy and society in many countries suffering the impact of the pandemic, it is high time global leaders and players boosted inter-country cooperation to contain the virus.
– The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item