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China: Beyond the scourge of Coronavirus

Published by The Nation on Wed, 19 Feb 2020


By Charles OnunaijuIt has been nearly seven years since Beijing launched the most far-reaching and comprehensive global development framework, the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, which the World Bank acknowledged as China-led effort to improve connectivity and regional cooperation on a trans-continental scale through large scale investments. But the massive infrastructure connectivity already up and running in many regions of the world and also a work in progress would be the practical expression of the construction of a community of shared future for mankind which on March 11, 2017 was included in a UN Security Council resolution and in September of the same year, its underlying principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration was incorporated in the UN General Assembly resolution on global governance.Some estimates suggest that over $900 billion of financing in grants and concessional loans for Belt and Road projects have been or about to be spent in more than 160 countries with three-fifths of the world population. According to the Economist Magazine, in real terms, that dwarfs the Marshall plan ($130 billion in todays money) that America advanced to revive Europes war-ravaged economies.Chinas contribution to global economic growth from 2013-2018 on average was 28.1 per cent, ranking the first place in the world and largest trading partner for more than 120 countries in the world. According to report issued last July from the Mckinsey Global Institute, it said from market perspective that depending on Chinas engagement with the world in the coming years, economic value of between $22 trillion to $37 trillion could be added or subtracted from global economy by 2040. In the Mckinsey report which analysed 186 countries, China was found to be largest export destination for 33 countries and the largest source of imports for 65. In addition to its huge presence in trade, China has also grown over the years to become a major player in global investment flows. From 2015 to 2017, it was the world largest source of outbound foreign direct investment and second-largest recipient of inbound investment according to the Mckinsey report.At the centre of further unlocking trade and enabling the strategic connectivity through which it could be mutually and beneficially engaged by the world, the World Bank has acknowledged that the Belt and Road Initiative would reduce time and cost of international trade and boast cumulative global output, considerably contributing to shared prosperity and human prospects, despite the existing vicissitudes of the contemporary international system.Africa has particularly charted a brilliant course with the engagement of the China opportunities which is filling the gap of the continents vacuum in building a network of critical infrastructures that are opening key prospect of regional economies of scale and optimizing the comparative advantages of the respective national economies in the region.There is no other international partnership with post-colonial states in Africa that has brought tangible results and outcomes as Africa-China cooperation whose concrete institutional expression has been the phenomenal Forum on China-Africa cooperation, (FOCAC) founded in 2000.With Chinas enigmatic engagement with world and the prospects it portends, how would the international community react to the outbreak of the coronavirus last December, but which grabbed international headlines from January' A monstrous, villainous virus that first hit Wuhan, capital city of Chinas Hubei province did not just threaten China but the entire global prospects not because Beijing is in the frontline of it, but even for the ethical values of our common humanity most robustly demonstrated in 2018 when Thailands teenage football players and their coach were entrapped in a horrific flooded cave.The outbreak of the novel disease raised concern across the world but the global health governing body, the World Health Organization urged caution and restraint in reaction, and also giving the Chinese authorities a clean bill of health in transparency and competence in managing and containing the spread of the virus after declaring that Covid-19 epidemic, a public health emergency of international concern. The World Health Organization further added that the only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. We are all in this together and we can only stop it together. This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.Even with a clarion call for concerted international efforts to rein in the novel virus, some western and more specifically U.S politicians wished the worst for China and hope to take advantage. Speaking to Fox television, U.S Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross said that the outbreak would give businesses another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain, and a risk factor that people need to take into account while cynically expressing that I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North AmericaThis attitude is beneath the universal value of our common humanity.In two straight years, China has organized two world import expo to bring the opportunities of Chinas huge market to the world, along with other batteries of reform measures to open wider and deeper the Chinese market. A novel virus is actually not needed to pull down Chinese economy for others to add jobs or other opportunities to their economies.As Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian said recently at a dialogue forum organized by Abuja-based Think Tank, that it is understandable that some countries have taken necessary and appropriate preventive measures, but added we disapprove of measures out of proportion, because as World health Organization insists, there is no pandemic yet and there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international trade and trade.He further assured that guided by vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China is fulfilling its responsibility for life and health of its own people and for global public health, and that her effective response has averted the further spread of the virus in the world.According to the envoy, his country is a resilient nation that has emerged stronger from numerous trials and tribulations, that with its people united as one with Chinas institutional strength in mobilizing resources for major undertaking and with strong material and technological capacities and with rich experience, China has the confidence, capacity and determination to not only win a full victory against the epidemic but also meet its economic and social development goals.Suffice it to summarize here that given to the fact, that the theoretical foundation of the Communist Party of China is to constantly engage contradictions and contradictions are not linear categories of happy endings, the countrys governance outlook is primed to anticipate emergencies with huge national reservoir of human and material contingencies, always in place to deal and contain the excesses before it disrupts the social order and threaten stability.Therefore, outbreak of the coronavirus is not outside the realm of emergencies anticipated by the Chinas system of eternal vigilance.Onunaiju is of Centre for China Studies, Utako, Abuja.
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