As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread across the world and threatening more lives and pushing the world economy into despair, I believe that with a concerted effort from the larger economies, putting their differences aside, the virus that knows no borders will be contained, eliminated and allow our economies to restart. Blaming others and shirking one’s own responsibility cannot help contain the spread of the contagion or save lives. Only through solidarity and cooperation can we conquer the virus. During the hardest time in China’s fight against COVID-19, many members of the international community were generous with their help. This the Chinese people will remember forever.
After the virus spread to other countries, China also extended a helping hand, offering anti-epidemic medical materials, and facilitating purchases of much-needed supplies. Sierra Leone was not an exception as we received seven batches of medical supplies from China as well as many other African countries. The Americans, Europeans and financial agencies like World Bank, IMF, European Union all came onboard and supported us financially to keep the country’s economy afloat.
However, facing a huge threat from the novel coronavirus, all what we are seeing from these larger economies are attacks and counter attacks, which has turned into a political virus that has impeded and disrupted global cooperation and spread hate and blame game that has made people more vulnerable to the pandemic. So far, more than 17 million people have been infected with the virus, and more than 650,000 have lost their lives. The huge number of deaths is a wake-up call for all countries, and reminds us that only through solidarity and cooperation can we win the war against COVID-19.
In recent years, the global economy has been undergoing downward pressure. The impact of the pandemic has accelerated the accumulation of risks and exposed them, plunging the world economy into the most severe recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today, like never before, the international community needs more synergy in making economic policies and taking stronger action to fight the pandemic. But some countries are disrupting normal economic activities in trade and investment, citing national security reasons, and retreating into protectionism. The world is experiencing fierce competition between inclusiveness and isolation, win-win cooperation and a zero-sum game ideology.
History proves that isolation is not the way out. In a world where all countries are closely connected by the global industrial, supply and value chains, only by opening-up and sharing the market can we cope with the challenge and create greater development opportunities. If we don’t try to reopen the cutoff channels in the global market, and instead set up blockades to the flow of materials and people around the world, the world economy will experience an even bumpier road to recovery.
We are seeing airports being open to commercial flights, trade continues to increase normal life is virtually picking up in Europe and Asia particularly. Because of the differences op opinion between President Trump, the Governors and Dr Fauchi, we are seeing massive rise of new cases in more than 12 states in America. For China it is a different story as President Xi Jinping and his team of medical experts has been working as a team to end the virus, which has been very instrumental. They have been carrying out prevention and control work and promoting social and economic development in tandem, minimizing the fallout of COVID-19.
Now, with a host of measures and policies in place, China has largely controlled the epidemic at home, with production and businesses going back to normalcy, the national economy recovering, and foreign trade and investment stabilizing. According to reports from WHO, China shared in timely manner epidemic-related information and its experience in containing the disease with the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner. The Chinese authorities have said they fully support the leading role that the World Health Organization plays in coordinating global efforts. And they will continue to work with them in ending the covid as well as in the future by providing WHO with financial and moral support always.
They donated $50 million to WHO and provided emergency medical supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations. China says they are willing to have closer exchanges and cooperation in the development of treatments and vaccines, and shoulder its global responsibility and safeguard people’s lives. In terms of socioeconomic development, China sticks to the principle of making progress while maintaining stability. It has rolled out a more proactive fiscal policy, a prudent monetary policy, and an employment-first policy.
President Xi says China will increase its fiscal deficit by $143.4 billion this year, and issue $140 billion of government bonds and $200 billion of special local government bonds to mitigate the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. Chinese government also plans to cut fees and taxes by $250 billion to help enterprises tide over the difficulties, reduce financing costs and meet the financing needs of the real economy by lowering reserve requirement ratios and interest rates, and through re-lending.
The current situation in the U.S. is one the lawmakers are facing as increasing shrill warnings over the dangers to the economy as Congress and the White House struggle to reach a deal on a new fiscal stimulus package, leaving millions of Americans without vital safety net payments and risking not just the US but also the global recovery. President Trump says the recovery has been very strong but the commerce department reported that the US economy contracted between April and June at the fastest pace in nearly three-quarters of a century, which is as long as economists have been keeping track. The drop wiped out five years of economic growth. The President again said the comeback “won’t take very long”, as he reassured Americans. But every indicator shows that after a small uptick in June, the US economy is tanking again. Restaurant reservations are down, traffic at retail stores is dwindling, more small businesses are closing and the small rebound in air travel is reversing.
Because of this resurgence, many states are pausing plans to reopen and some are reimposing restrictions. But these restrictions are not the reason the economy is slowing. They are the necessary consequence of allowing the pandemic to get out of control. Even the White House’s own coronavirus taskforce concludes that 21 states have outbreaks serious enough to justify more restrictions.
It is for this reason that concerted efforts between these two nations would have been good for other countries in the fight to win the covid, but the blame game and the refusal to accept the reality has caused more problems for the world. For China they have been adhering to the policy of opening its doors wider and promoting the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment. This year, they have significantly shortened the negative list for foreign investment access, and plans to unveil a negative list for cross-border service trade by the end of the year. Items on the negative list for foreign investment access have been cut to 33, a drop of 65 percent from 95 in 2017.
The year 2020 is very extraordinary. Standing at a new juncture of history, we face two choices: one is to join hands to win the war against the pandemic and revive the economy, and the other is to allow the virus to wreak havoc around the world and kill more people. People around the world will make the right decision.
By Austin Thomas