Beijing, China | XINHUA | As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of leading medical journal The Lancet, asked a provocative question with his newly-published book titled “The COVID-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again.”
Such a question reverberates around the globe as worldwide COVID-19 infections have crossed the 20-million mark and coronavirus deaths surpassed 750,000.
Amid the catastrophe of the century, the future and destiny of mankind, analysts say, depend on current choices and actions.
From traditional security threats such as wars and conflicts to non-traditional security threats such as climate change and cyber attacks, humankind’s understanding of security has been continuously expanded.
Among them, in the past over 100 years, various infectious diseases, ranging from the Spanish Flu to AIDS, Ebola, SARS and Zika, have repeatedly reminded humans against biosecurity risks.
Nobel laureate and biologist Joshua Lederberg once warned, “the single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on this planet is the virus.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has been severely hitting the world’s economic production, social life, international relations and global landscape, sounded the alarm bell again.
The coronavirus, which knows no borders, races or religions, can serve as a sober reminder that security has become more interconnected and transnational. Considering that facing the pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe, China’s vision of common security could help provide an answer to defeating the virus.
Countries, as China proposed, should pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, reject a Cold War mentality and confrontation between blocs, and oppose the practices of seeking absolute security of oneself at the expense of others, so as to achieve the security of all.
The public health crisis is also a test of countries’ value orientation.
Countries have different histories, cultures and levels of economic and social development. Thus, in the fight against the pandemic, with such different factors, they may adopt different crisis response approaches.
Despite that, as the rights to life and health are fundamental parts of human rights, they should become the primary consideration for countries when facing the challenges posed by the pandemic, and guarding life should be the common value pursued by countries.
Yet, Washington, in the absence of scientific evidence, has reopened its economy during the peak period of the outbreak, ignored the elderly in nursing homes, turned away the poor who cannot afford treatment, and launched election campaigns regardless of the risk of virus transmission, all in a bid for more cheap political points.
On the contrary, many other countries like China have put the people’s interests first and uphold the vision that nothing is more precious than people’s lives. These countries have also sent medical staff abroad to help fight the outbreaks, demonstrating a sense of solidarity and mutual help.
When the novel coronavirus struck, China made every effort to protect the lives and health of its people even at the cost of a short-term economic downturn and even a temporary shutdown.
Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan, a Pakistani geopolitical analyst, said that China’s response to COVID-19 has been timely, effective, transparent and responsible.
Noting that the Chinese government has always given top priority to the life and health of its people, he added that the international community can learn a lot from China’s experience.
“Our best way forward is to stick with science, solutions and solidarity and together we can overcome this pandemic,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged earlier this month.
Looking back over the past century, from World War II to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and then to the global financial crisis of 2008, mankind has relied on cooperation to tide over these crises. However, since the onset of the pandemic, this cooperation has been lacking and such international organizations as the WHO have repeatedly called for solidarity.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to international cooperation is Washington’s intentional disruption. Though the United States boasts rich scientific and technological resources and advanced medical equipment, the country intercepted shipments of medical equipment bound for other countries and recklessly stigmatized others to shift the blame.
“The threat of coronavirus should kindle global cooperation, not a new cold war,” Horton warned in a Guardian opinion piece this month.
Also, the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the global systems of detection, monitoring, control and treatment of such infectious diseases.
Thus, as the international community has urged, countries need to defend the global governance system with the United Nations at its core, give full support to the WHO, share experiences in fighting the pandemic, ensure the smooth supply of medical supplies and accelerate the research and development of drugs and vaccines.
The virus’s attack on human beings is far from over, and the prospects for pandemic control remain grim. In these drastic times, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said last month, only through international cooperation “will we ease the economic and social consequences of the crisis.”
“It is only by strengthening bonds across society that we will recover better and build a healthier, more inclusive, sustainable, resilient and equitable world,” he added.