Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland on February 29 in Kirkland, Washington. Dozens of staff and residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland are reportedly exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms. Photo: AFP
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has caused a global pandemic. The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed worldwide exceeded 162,600 on Sunday, with 81,597 cases outside China, according to a real-time database compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The number of countries and regions reporting cases has reached 143.
The coronavirus outbreak has posed a challenge to the entire world. It is vitally important for countries to understand the nature of this global challenge and make proper responses.
This pandemic is driving strong demand for a new globalization. After the epidemic first broke out in China, some forces that are profoundly opposed to globalization concluded that the outbreak had provided them with sufficient evidence to advocate for the “end of globalization.” They claimed that China’s defensive measures against the virus created a spillover effect that impacted global supply chains and this proved globalization is unreliable. They preached that the coronavirus outbreak would spur decoupling around the world. Some even blamed globalization for accelerating the spread of the virus.
Like the rise of populism and the emergence of anti-globalization waves in Europe and the US, such views do present some problems: Globalization has not only produced benefits, but also challenges. Some risks have been amplified by the globalization process.
Those people who are against globalization believe that all problems brought about by globalization would be solved if the world were to slide backward to a time when it was dominated by Western developed countries. The solution they proposed is in essence a regression and is wrong.
The global fight against the coronavirus has shown that only through cross-border cooperation, sharing of information, resources and other tools, can countries around the world cope with the global challenge.
In China, an increasing number of imported cases of the virus suggests that even if the coronavirus is contained or even eradicated within the country, China still faces challenges as the virus continues to spread globally. The same is true for other countries.
A country can only be safe when the world is safe. The fight against the COVID-19 has pointed to a profound new direction for globalization. Global problems can be resolved effectively by augmenting globalization.
In the fight against the COVID-19, different countries have made different choices. What has influenced a country’s choice is the value it places on human life.
A country requires leaders with firm strategic will and enough political responsibility to make correct domestic political decisions. The issues that global governance must first address and improve are whether there are enough countries that correctly understand the situation, have enough ability to act, and are willing to contribute to the fight against the epidemic domestically and internationally.
In face of the threat of the COVID-19, it must be understood that the world is a community with a shared future for mankind. One of the common values followed by this community is the concern for human life. Fighting the threat and saving lives should be the consensus of all parties. The international community must achieve effective overall mobilization and organization. With the leadership and promotion of responsible major powers, all countries should make more positive contributions to fight the coronavirus. China should take this opportunity to make a greater contribution to the world and provide more effective services.
In this sense, the global spread of the COVID-19 signifies that globalization and global governance are entering a new stage where the governance capabilities of nations are the core concern. With that in mind, here are some goals all parties should work toward: establish a fairer international governance structure, let emerging powers play a greater role in the process of sound changes in global governance, build governance structures that are beneficial to the well-being of people and explore a more flexible and effective governance practice model.
(The author is director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance of Fudan University. )