Date: 29 March 2020 Author: Łukasz Kobierski
A Chinese message at the G20
On March 26, 2020, an unusual online G20 summit took place. The meeting was aimed to discuss actions regarding the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic. The deliberations were initiated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which this year presides over the organisation. It was the first online summit in the history of the G20, as well as the first major multilateral event with President Xi Jinping since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech to G20 members, Xi proposed four initiatives. Firstly, to convene a meeting of G20 health ministers to improve the exchange of information about medicines, vaccines and pandemic control. He also suggested launching an initiative to help developing countries with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Secondly, he pointed out that the international community must address the coronavirus problem together. He suggested the establishment of a global network of control and treatment. China has created an online information centre devoted to COVID-19 to which all countries are invited. It can help in speeding up research and creating a vaccine. Xi also suggested establishing regional communication mechanisms for public health emergencies.
Thirdly, supporting international organisations. China supports the WHO in directing global efforts to develop knowledge-based and appropriate control, treatment and to minimise the spread of the coronavirus abroad. Xi called the G20 members for improving the exchange of information about combating the pandemic, with the support of the WHO. He proposed to convene a high-level meeting on international public health security.
As the last and perhaps the most important point, the improvement of international macroeconomic policy coordination was mentioned. Xi said, “We need to jointly keep the global industrial and supply chains stable”. He called all G20 members for acting together – reducing tariffs, removing barriers and facilitating unrestricted trade flow. To achieve this, an action plan for communication and institutional action within the group should be established immediately.
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In his speech, Xi says that “from day one of our fight against the outbreak, we have put people’s life and health first”. This is not true, because initially, the CPC was suppressing information about the cases of the coronavirus and trying to hide it from the world and its citizens by blocking unwanted content on the Internet. The current rhetoric is to show the devotion and commitment of the party from the beginning of the pandemic.
President Xi, underlined the promoted by him “community of human destinies”, which is the readiness to share good practices and to carry out joint research. The narrative is intended to show openness, generosity and good organization of China, which can lead the world in the future and now become a leader in the fight against coronavirus.
China encouraged international cooperation, especially with the WHO. This is interesting because yet in January, when the WHO took the side of China, it reported that the coronavirus does not pose a threat to the world. It is also worth recalling that the current leader of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, in the past, was accused of covering up three cholera epidemics in his home country. He also became the head of one of the most important UN agendas thanks to, among others, China’s lobbying.
The biggest problem for the CPC is to maintain stability and steady growth of the economy. Articles about China as a stabilizer and antidote to the current disastrous global economic situation have been appearing in the controlled Chinese media. The call for the maintenance of supply chains is aimed at making countries refrain from changing imports of products from China and abandon plans to restore their industrial capacities.
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