The Right Way to Take is to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

By Yang Jiemian

COVID-19 has hit over 200 countries and regions in the world, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths. It not only poses a grave threat to human health but also causes global economic recession and increases risks in social governance. With implications on both non-traditional and traditional security threats, it adds to significant changes to major-country relations and geopolitics, thus considerable rise in global instabilities and uncertainties. 

Cooperation is the Sure Choice in Dealing with a Crisis. 

In responding to this pandemic, China has adhered to the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind and strengthened international cooperation. Most members of the international community have put emphasis on shared human interests and responsibilities and believed that the most urgent task now is to work together to safeguard life safety and health of the whole mankind. The international community has stepped up cooperation, with increased awareness of shared destiny. In fighting the pandemic, many countries have worked hard to turn the challenges into opportunities by enhancing information communication, policy coordination and collaborative action, in a strong effort to promote the transformation and improvement of international governance mechanism and global governance system. 

The 21st century is noted for a more volatile and complicated security situation, intertwined traditional and non-traditional security threats and extended contents and implications of security issues. In terms of epidemics, the world has been hit in succession by Ebola, Zika virus, H1N1 influenza and COVID-19. International terrorist attacks, financial crisis and serious natural disasters have also occurred frequently. Non-traditional security threats have become serious challenges facing the mankind. At the same time, countries have been increasingly interconnected in their interests and destiny. No country is able to handle all by itself the various challenges faced by mankind and no country can afford to go back into isolation. To safeguard the common homeland of mankind, all countries need to work in stronger cooperation and unity to meet the challenges. 

In the face of the virus, a common enemy, the international community has reviewed experiences and drawn lessons from the past efforts in dealing with non-traditional security threats and further increased solidarity and cooperation in fighting the pandemic. Such examples include the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 on 26 March this year, the Special ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) Summit on COVID-19 on 14 April, the virtual 73rd World Health Assembly on 18 May, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 on 17 June, and the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation on 18 June. And on 1 July, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on COVID-19, calling upon all parties in armed conflicts on the Security Council agenda to immediately engage in a cessation of hostilities and achieve a ceasefire of at least 90 days to enable delivery of humanitarian assistance. All the above are significant efforts of the international community to unite against the pandemic and work together to tide over the difficulties. President Xi Jinping in his keynote speech at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 stated that “We must always put our people and their lives front and center.We must mobilize necessary resources, stick together in collaboration, and do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives and health and minimize the fallout of COVID-19.” 

At the same time, the international community has demonstrated a great virtue of mutual assistance in fighting the pandemic by going through thick and thin together. Confronted with the common enemy of COVID-19, most countriesin the world have shown strong sympathy for and provided sincere assistance to others hit by the pandemic. In fighting COVID-19 together, many countries have also engaged in information exchange, experience sharing, research and development of medicines, clinical treatment, construction of public health infrastructure and mutual protection of each other’s citizens. Those are touching stories of sharing weal and woe and helping each other, a reflection of shared destiny for mankind. In addition, China has announced that once the R&D of COVID-19 vaccine is completed and put to use, it will be provided as a global public good, making contribution to the accessibility and affordability of the vaccine in developing countries. The WHO has also announced its plan to provide 2 billion doses of vaccine against COVID-19 to the world by the end of 2021, half of which will benefit low-and-middle-income countries. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, however, a small number of countries have taken a beggar-thy-neighbor attitude, withdrawn from organizations, shift blames on others, and even took opportunity to make trouble and create confrontations. Such behavior go against the trend of the times and will be abandoned by history in the end. 

The Concept of Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind Becomes More Popular. 

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the series of actions taken by the whole world to fight the pandemic have major implications on the current global situation and future human security and development not only in terms of international relations, but also at various levels such as ideologies and concepts . 

The emerging markets and developing countries are growing fast, with rising international influence and increasingly important roles in international affairs. Under the new circumstances, power politics, Cold-War mentality and zero-sum game no longer work. It has become the consensus of the international community to uphold multilateralism, by participating in international affairs equally and resolving disputes through consultation and dialogue.

In today’s world, material wealth accumulates continuously, science and technology progress rapidly, human civilization develops towards a higher level and peace, development, cooperation and win-win are the irresistible trend of the times. To the people of the world, life and health are the basic needs and to live a better life and share the fruits of economic globalization are their strong aspirations. The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 has put the life and health of the people of many countries under threat. In fighting the pandemic, the top priority is to protect and save lives. During the recent international conferences, a lot of countries reaffirmed their commitment to protecting their people and people’s lives. China and some other emerging economies and developing countries have focused on the tasks of development and people’s livelihoods and advocated the building of a community of common health for mankind in order to create better living standards and ensure safe and healthy lives. As President Xi Jinping stated at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, “We must stay committed to upholding multilateralism; in the face of COVID-19, solidarity and cooperation is our most powerful weapon; China will work with Africa to uphold the UN-centered global governance system and support WHO in making greater contribution to the global COVID-19 response; we oppose politicization and stigmatization of COVID-19, and we oppose racial discrimination and ideological bias; we stand firm for equity and justice in the world.”These initiatives have produced wide impacts and are turning into shared belief and practical actions of the international community. 

Human beings live in the same global village, where countries depend on each other and are increasingly part of each other, forming a community of shared destiny. To promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind is China’s proposal to deal with common challenges. This proposition has been written into the UN documents on many occasions and is welcomed and recognized by the international community. In the interconnected world today, the major contagious diseases will always pose a threat to the whole of humanity wherever they happen. To respond to a serious infectious disease like COVID-19, all countries must work together in consultation, strengthen information sharing, engage in joint prevention and control and bring together each other’s strengths to accelerate R&D on drugs, vaccines and testing. The UN, the WHO, G20, ASEAN plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea), and other multilateral organizations have important roles to play in sharing pandemic information, coordinating responses to the pandemic and assisting countries with weak health systems. In the face of the pandemic, what the humanity needs is cooperation instead of unilateral actions, sharing responsibilities instead of willful actions, mutual assistance instead of creating obstacles for each other. 

President Xi Jinping in hiscongratulatory message to the Extraordinary Meeting of Dialogue between CPC and Political Parties of Arab Countries emphasized that COVID-19 pandemic is another reminder that mankind rise and fall together. As the pandemic knows no borders and races, no country or group of countries can cope all by themselves. The only way to effectively contain the pandemic is to work in solidarity and cooperation at the height of building a community with a shared future for mankind. When the whole world is at a crucial juncture of fighting COVID-19, the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind has demonstrated more than ever its great value in promoting human well-being and development. In the hard struggle against the pandemic, countries have come to realize that they are interconnected and interdependent and the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind has become more deeply rooted in people’s hearts. 

Continuous Efforts Should Be Made to Promote the Reformation and Improvement of the Global Governance System. 

COVID-19 has exposed some weaknesses of the global governance system. More and more countries have deeply experienced the reality and seriousness of non-traditional security threats. They have further realized that zero-sum mentality and practices cannot resolve the current challenges. So the international community needs to work hard to turn challenges into opportunities and use the opportunity of building the global public health governance mechanism to accelerate the reformation and improvement of global governance system. The international community needs to make joint efforts in counter-terrorism, cyber-security, major contagious diseases, climate change and other non-traditional security threats. It is important to safeguard the operations of the existing effective mechanisms and make continuous innovations in international governance mechanism so as to better deal with current and future global issues. 

In face of the pandemic, China actively supports relevant international organizations in playing their roles and continues to use various platforms of international organizations to strengthen information sharing, experience exchange, technological cooperation and policy coordination, thus making contribution to global response to the pandemic. International summits and head-of-state diplomacy mechanism have increasingly significance. With more convenient transportation and communication, this mechanism has enjoyed continuous development in the late 20th century and early 21st century. At present, the growing global affairs and the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic have given rise to head-of-state video diplomacy. Many international mechanisms have also held important high-level conferences via video, which to some extent has overcome the restraints of time and space and is also much more productive than usual. Such developments thus provide much innovation to international relations and global governance. As the pandemic affects the life and health of each person, in addition to channels of the governmental and non-governmental organizations, people of different countries are engaging in direct exchanges via the instant communication tools as new forms of people-to-people exchanges, thus increasing the role and influence of non-governmental exchanges. Obviously, as the forms of diplomatic activities are undergoing institutional changes, future actors of international relations will become more and more diversified. 

International Cooperation against the Pandemic is a Long and Arduous Task. 

The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government always put people’s life and health first and have fought an all-out people’s war against the virus. With extremely painstaking efforts and at a huge cost, China has achieved major strategic result in preventing and controlling the pandemic, but yet to make continuous efforts to prevent case import and domestic resurgence. At the difficult moments of fighting the pandemic, China has gained assistance from many countries and peoples and in turn, China has also given back to the international community by helping many countries according to its ability. China’s consistent commitment to cooperation has been fully displayed in the fight against COVID-19.The right approach to justice and interests China advocates and practices has also been applauded by the international community. China’s act to work in solidarity and cooperation with other countries in jointly fighting the pandemic has enriched the contents of contemporary international relations and made clear the right way forward for the international community. 

Human progress is always a tortuous journey and the building of a more just and reasonable global governance mechanism remains a long-term and arduous task. As COVID-19 pandemic spreads and evolves and our knowledge of the virus goes deeper, the international community has increasingly realized that cooperation against the pandemic will be a long-running and hard struggle, which requires mental and material preparations as well as more institutional cooperation at the global and regional levels. As we work to win the war against COVID-19 in an all-round way, the resources and wisdom of the whole international community needs to be brought together to achieve practical and theoretical innovations in win-win cooperation, the new-type international relations, multilateralism, global governance and a community with a shared future for mankind. 

From the perspective of development, the precious consensus and cooperation by the international community in the fight against the pandemic is an important conceptual resource and practice for building a community with a shared future for mankind. Risks and challenges always go together with human progress. The world will come more closely together in addressing one challenge after another, and global governance system will also get better in the continuous response to the needs of the era. As long as countries join hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind, a better future for human civilization will be created. 

Yang Jiemian is Research Fellow and Chairman of the Academic Affairs Council of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.