GUEST Column by Charles Onunaiju
By Charles Onunaiju
Covid-19 is yet another sobering reminder that in the age of globalization, the future of countries are closely linked and building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right way to go.” Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister.
No conventional army or the most daring terrorist group could easily and effortlessly breach the impregnable national security borders either through air, land, or sea of the United States of America or any of its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) without harsh reprisals. The iron shield, the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China, would never have allowed any military force, whether conventional or irregular to thwart the country’s territorial integrity.
Yet, the vile virus, designated Covid-19 by the world Health governing body (WHO), have effortlessly burrowed into these powerful nations as almost easily as it has sneaked into Burkina-Faso, rendering every advanced military arsenal not only useless but irrelevant. The vulnerability of every people across all nations in the face of the rampaging Covid-19 not only challenges the traditional conception of national security but highlight imperatives of the vision of community of shared future and destiny for mankind. The outline of such future was glaringly put on the global agenda with the China’s initiated Silk Road Economic Belt and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” otherwise known as the “Belt and Road,” or simply the “BRI”. It envisage the convergence of human interests and aspiration across national boundaries, and without seeking to undermine the existing structure of contemporary international system with “sovereign states” as its core unit of engagement, however, recognizes the strategic network of critical and hard infrastructures that would under-write the vision of a community of shared future for mankind.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has squarely put into context, the notion of our common humanity contained in the vision of building a community of shared future for all mankind. At the first international conference of the Belt and Road Framework of International cooperation, President Xi Jinping described “infrastructure connectivity; which is at the core of the “Belt and Road Initiative, as “the foundation of development through cooperation’ and went ahead to urge that “we should promote land, maritime, air and cyber space connectivity…and connect networks of highways, railways and seaports, and additionally…improve trans-regional logistics networks, and promote coordination in policies, rules and standards so as to provide institutional safeguards for connectivity.”
The challenge of the outbreak of Covid-19 and its global spread has fundamentally challenged the humanity’s imagination to rise above the particularisms of national, racial, ethnic, religious and even level of development exclusivity to the inclusiveness of common humanity. The political distraction in certain quarters that the China-initiated “project of the century,” the Belt and Road framework is Beijing’s geo-political tool of influence peddling is now summarily hollow as its core contents of as a practical roadmap to functional international cooperation through joint development efforts is vindicated by the joint global efforts to curb and contain a virulent, vile virus sneaking across borders and sowing deaths destruction and despair. The outbreak of Covid-19 has brought international cooperation on public health to the center and as a non-traditional security threat, the urgency for cooperation in the field of public health security ranks above military alliances and its alertness to traditional security threats.
Covid-19, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan but with an uncertain origin took the world by storm, ravaging Europe and tormenting America and desperately burrowing into Africa and other regions of the world. But China, the first port of call for the deadly coronavirus declared peoples war against the disease, mobilizing national capacity and tapping international goodwill and have largely seen off, the worst of the damage that the disease can orchestrate.
According to Chinese foreign minister, Mr. Wang Yi, “the international community shared the view that the speed, intensity and scope of China’s epidemic response is rarely seen in the world, that the leadership, response, mobilization and implementation capabilities China has demonstrated are exemplary for the rest of the world and that China has gathered valuable experience for the international community in handling emergencies caused by infectious disease and advancing global public health governance. However, beyond China’s valuable experience,” Beijing has demonstrated highest sense of responsibility as a major country, ensuring that since it took measures to contain the virus within China, it is not exported to any other country. For example, not yet a single case of the virus entering Africa is reported to have been imported from China, despite the vigorous economic and social exchange between China and Africa. As with the case of the deadly ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014, China is now vigorously engaging Africa in the disease control and containment, with medical supplies and equipment, the critical and vital tools to control and contain the disease.
As covid-19 is not a mass death sentence, the world would certainly recover from its menace and the economic and social disruptions it has created in its wake but the evident lessons it teaches must be assessed, internalized and build into the structure of the emerging international intercourse.
As the report of the WHO-China joint mission on Covid-19” informed us, “most people infected with covid-19 have mild disease and recover adding that “approximately 80% of laboratory confirmed patients have had mild to moderate disease.” And since, the report of the WHO-China joint mission was published in February, more efforts have been intensified at diagnostic and therapeutic containment of the disease. What is actually left is to internalize the lessons of the disease outbreak and build a community of shared future for mankind.
At his speech at the United nations general assembly in Geneva on January 18th, 2017, Chinese leader, Xi Jinping raised the concern that “ pandemic disease such as bird flu, Ebola and Zika have sounded the alarm for international health security. The WHO should play a leadership role in strengthening epidemic monitoring and in sharing information best practices and technologies,” and urged “the international community to step up support and assistance for public health in African countries and other developing countries.
The covid-19 has accelerated the urgency that the building of a community of shared future for mankind is the imperative of our time as the Chinese leader urged that “great vision can be realized through actions, and “actions hold the key to building a community of shared future for mankind,” and so should all national actions deployed to combat the Covid-19 now coalesce into international joint efforts to strengthen and advance our common humanity.
Mr. Onunaiju, Research director at Abuja based Think Tank.