A point of View on China’s humanity anti-pandemic front and ecological civilization

By Genc Mlloja

As global challenges to humanity increase in various aspects, putting the international community and our planet itself under threatening trials there has been an increase of the attention of all international public opinion and world diplomatic chancelleries towards environment. All is happening against the background of the impact of the pandemic across the world in different forms.

As has been done in previous cases this commentary focuses on a more dynamic engagement of China, and particularly of its head of state Xi Jinping offering new alternatives to the international community to face the numerous economic, climate, health, social problems, including ensuing geopolitical challenges. A lot of concrete proposals and immediate action plans have been submitted, which provide realistic solutions to the new worries of the world in the spirit of multilateralism and mutual cooperation of all major and minor powers, to find the common language putting the interests of survival, welfare and security of peoples at the forefront in these critical times.

The participations full of arguments of President Xi in the general debate of the autumn session of this year of the UN General Assembly, in the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in the UN Conference on Sustainable Global Transport and at the G20 Summit held in Rome on 30-31 October are already well known,. The motto of all this intensive and dynamic diplomatic activity has been the spirit of increasing global cooperation to defeat COVID-19 and overcome the consequences of this unprecedented fatal pandemic, the revival of the world economy that has been gripped by the severest crisis since World War II, defining long-term strategies to improve global governance and building a community with a common future for all humanity.

As the latest activity in the long series of these commitments it is worth to highlight concretely some topics unveiled by President Xi at the G20 meeting attended by leaders of the 20 most economically developed countries in the world. This was the first face-to-face meeting since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had on its agenda ‘thorny issues’, which called for search of urgent solutions, such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic recovery. Naturally the expectations were high to find a way out to cope with what is happening as a result of rampant global warming and designate measures for concrete coordinated action related to the fight against the pandemic. In a video speech entitled "Action in Solidarity for a Common Future" held at the first session of this 16th G20 Summit, President Xi called on the participating countries to take their proper international responsibilities, insisting on open and inclusive development through mutually beneficial cooperation and the functioning of multilateralism.

On global challenges, President Xi elaborated China's position and announced a five-point proposal at the G20, established in 1999, which serves as a forum for international cooperation on economic and financial issues. It includes 19 countries - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, UK, United States United and European Union. It should be noted that the members of this group make up about 60 percent of the planet's population and about 80 percent of global GDP, which has made many world leaders and heads of international organizations, including the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, draw attention to the obligations that these countries have to the poorest and planet earth in vital terms when, as is it well known, there is no 'planet B' to escape…

Xi, who has been the first leader in the world to call for COVID-19 vaccines to become a global public product, reiterated China's commitment to promoting equitable access to vaccines by all the countries not leaving behind the poorest. So, the first item of China's 5 proposal package, was solidarity for anti-pandemic cooperation and in this context the Chinese head of state presented the Global Initiative for Cooperation on Vaccines.

Among the main elements of this initiative are the strengthening of research cooperation on vaccines, especially in the study and production of vaccines with developing countries; increase the provision of vaccines to developing countries to achieve the WHO target for global vaccination before the end of 2022; support the WTO to take a decision as soon as possible to remove the intellectual property rights of vaccines, encouraging companies to transfer technology to developing countries; equal treatment of different vaccines in order to promote mutual recognition of vaccines according to the WHO list of emergency uses and to provide financial assistance for global vaccine cooperation, especially to developing countries to have own access to vaccines.

So far, China has provided over 1.6 billion vaccines to over 100 countries and international organizations. This figure is expected to exceed 2 billion this year. China is now developing joint vaccine production with 16 countries and is negotiating with 30 countries on vaccine cooperation partnership under the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative. China is ready to work with different parties to contribute to the creation of an anti-epidemic line of defense, raising the level of availability and affordability of vaccines from developing countries, said the Chinese president.

The second proposal focused on strengthening better coordination of the sustainable recovery of the world economy in the face of the complex consequences of COVID-19. In this context, Xi noted that the G20 should play its role as the main forum for international economic cooperation and step up the coordination of macroeconomic policy between large economies and avoid the passage of negative consequences on developing countries. He called on the member countries of the Group to promote the development of infrastructure so that it can play an important role in economic growth. On this occasion he stated that China is ready to cooperate with various parties to promote the construction of 'One Belt, One Road', bringing more visible results to the world.

The third proposal addressed joint and inclusive development and, according to Xi, the G20 should implement its initiative to support the industrialization of Africa and the most underdeveloped countries in this function. Developed economies must keep their promises of relevant assistance, providing developing countries with more development resources. Xi's speech was not only based on the present, but had a long-term perspective because as he made clear as measures are taken to address the consequences of the pandemic, the G20 needs to further improve its system and rules of global economic governance.

Promoting innovation and exploring the engines of development was the fourth proposal and in this regard, according to Xi, the G20 should formulate rules based on full participation and broad consensus to create a good environment for development motivated by innovation. "Ideological division is detrimental to scientific and technological innovation, and brings no benefit," he noted announcing on that occasion that China has decided to apply to integrate into the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement and is ready to work with all parties to promote the healthy and orderly development of the digital economy.

Meanwhile, the fifth proposal addressed harmonious, green and sustainable coexistence, which proves the care and attention that China pays to the planet Earth, promoting the building of a vital community for man and nature. According to this proposal, the G20 should support the principle of common but different responsibilities, promote the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change, and support the results of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 15th Conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This proposal emphasizes that developed countries should set an example on the issue of reducing emissions, address the specific difficulties and concerns of developing countries, implement climate financing commitments, and provide support to developing countries in the areas of technology development and capacity building. According to the proposal, China will try to reach the peak of carbon by 2030 and carbon neutralization by 2060. China will keep its promises and cooperate with other countries to follow the path of green development, with low and sustainable carbon emission, said Xi.

Recently, China introduced the Global Development Initiative to promote the world’s most powerful, greenest, and healthiest development. At the summit, President Xi welcomed the G20 to participate in this initiative and clarified its concrete concept, including maintaining development as a priority, taking concrete action and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships. These points are in line with the essence of the "G20 Rome Summit Declaration" and are in favor of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In this context, the international relations expert of the Paris Institute of Political Science, Bertrand Badie, said that China has played an active role in promoting global economic recovery and the development of multilateral trade. On the other hand, suffice it to recall that China managed to successfully eradicate absolute poverty in a country house of a population of 1.4 billion people. It met this UN-approved target a decade before the 2030 deadline. Unfortunately, the prospects for eradicating poverty are becoming bleak for many developing countries as a result of the recent health and natural disasters.

In a commentary on a televised address as he attended the G20 summit as special envoy of President Xi Jinping, State Counselor and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that President Xi's statements on climate issues convey Chinese wisdom for all countries to explore the modernization of human and nature coexistence, and has gained widespread support and appreciation from the international community.

As the largest developing country, China attaches great importance to building ecological civilization and has always been a participant, contributor and leader in global action to address climate change, said Wang whose interview in Rome with important media outlets dwelt on the views of China, which were presented by President Xi at the G20. At the same time Wang elaborated on the important initiatives and proposals made by China as well as their importance and influence on humanity. The G20 summit was followed by the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was held in Glasgow (31 October- 12 November).

In a written statement to the Conference, released on November 1, President Xi Jinping stated that when it comes to global challenges such as climate change, multilateralism is the right recipe. Further on he added that visions will only become reality when action is taken on them.

Guided by the vision of a community of life for man and nature, China will continue to prioritize ecological conservation and pursue a green, low-carbon path to development. The country will promote a green, low-carbon and circular economic system at a faster pace, continue to streamline the industrial structure, and curb the irrational development of energy-intensive, high-emission projects, according to the letter. Xi’s statement said that China will accelerate the transition to green and low carbon energy, develop renewable energy vigorously, and will plan and build large wind and photovoltaic power plants.

Referring to the wisdom of the ancient Chinese Xi noted that he believes that successful governance relies on solid action. He hoped that all parties would take stronger action to tackle the climate challenge together and to protect the planet, the common home for all.

But have all the big countries walked at the same step like China, the second largest economic power in the world, regarding the global aspects of climate, pandemic and many other global problems that concern humanity? Faced with an expansion of the international front in the context of climate change US President Joe Biden apologized indirectly for withdrawal of his country from the Paris Climate Agreement at the 26th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) of the United Nations in Glasgow. “I think I should not have apologized, but I apologize," he was quoted as saying by the American press.

Asked by the media about the apology of the US President, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on November 3 that the US, as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, must face its historic responsibility and lead to the fulfillment of obligations to reduce emissions. "We hope that the US will come up with a concrete implementation plan and roadmap for halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as soon as possible," Wenbin said. Meanwhile Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said on November 2 that tackling climate change requires firm commitment and continued action, not empty slogans.

Zhang wrote on social media that in tackling climate change, what the world does not need are empty slogans, ever-changing policies, luxury motorcades, or irresponsible exposure of people to infection. "China has strongly supported Climate Action. We are not the ones who withdrew from the Paris Agreement," the Chinese ambassador to the UN said in a statement.

The G20 summit and the Glasgow conference as well as a lot of other events held under the auspices of the United Nations have been the latest appeal that every country, especially the great powers, must take on the responsibilities that belong to them and take concrete actions. Moreover, the growing power of the international community for ‘global action in a global way’ is proving day by day that the practice of blaming others and ideologizing challenges has been exhausted to no avail. The people expect real leadership for action according to urgent, long-term and concrete plans, and China has submitted its suggestions and proposals for discussion and action.

*The commentary was first published by CRI in Albanian. Its excerpts above are a translation by the author