Review & Mail Head of Content
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s address to the World Health Organisation meeting on Monday showed that China has risen to global leadership, at a time the other major global power – the United States is suffering vacuous leadership and lack of moral authority under Donald Trump.
President Xi announced that he was extending $2 billion to fight Coronavirus (Covid-19), much of it going to developing countries, especially in Africa.
Additionally he announced a battery of measures that will guide the world going forward, outlining six major thematic areas.
This could be the moment President Xi seized the initiative!
Before we can substantively discuss his proposals, it is crucial to note the reaction of Western and American media to Monday’s event, which was held remotely because of restrictions on movement and interaction because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A good number of Western media outlets could not hide fear at the prospect of China standing up to global leadership at this crucial time.
According to a New York Times article China’s pledge to the global health body “amounts to more than twice what the United States had been giving the global health agency before President Trump cut off American funding last month, and it could catapult China to the forefront of international efforts to contain a disease that has claimed at least 315,000 lives.
“But it was also seen — particularly by American officials — as an attempt by China to forestall closer scrutiny of whether it hid information about the outbreak to the world.”
Another influential publication, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that President Trump threatened to permanently cut off funding to the World Health Organization and revoke US membership “if the group doesn’t make changes meant to curb what he called its pro-China bias”.
The US is clearly in disarray, following the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen Trump being heavily criticised at home, and now face the possibility of losing the next elections due to the fallout from the crisis.
The US administration has sought to deflect its failures by diverting attention towards the World Health Organisation and its leader Tedros Gabreyesus – although this has not really deceived the world.
By contrast, China has touted global cooperation, solidarity, science and pragmatism.
On Monday President Xi delivered this masterclass.
He noted that the world was facing it’s most “serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II” and with a statesman-like human touch said, “I mourn for every life lost and express condolences to the bereaved families.”
He further underscored the qualities of love and compassion as central in the fight against COVID-19 – and this is important in explaining the philosophical approach China has employed in this crisis as it has not just bandied about its political power but demonstrated love for humanity.
(This of course is the direct opposite of the US’ racist and divisive approach.)
Substantively, President Xi laid out a matrix of six areas that will shape the global response to the crisis now and in the future. These are:
• Control and treatment of Covid-19
• Centrality of the World Health Organization in leading the global response
• Support for Africa
• Global governance in the area of public health
• Restoration economic and social development; and
• Strengthening of international cooperation
To which, China announced a number of enabling actions that will see the world moving from this pandemic into a future where it is more prepared.
According to this schema and philosophy of President Xi, the world will be more united and stronger together to face its challenges.
There is no doubt that the Chinese leader has the best formula yet.
What is even more important is the fact that China is effortlessly taking global leadership at a time the human race is faced with one of its greatest perils, and it has taken lot of pragmatism and humanity from President Xi.
One cannot resist comparison between President Xi’s quiet dignity with the raving bluster of Trump. For Africa, the former represents hope and a more cooperative future, which is key for a reimagined global architecture.
And, lastly, within and among all these considerations, money in itself does not matter.
There are certain important values, decency and pragmatism that need to inform the world order. – R&M