China returns favor to EU when US help is absent

By Zhang Bei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/23 18:18:40

Chinese medical supplies for Belgium are unloaded at the Liege Airport in Liege, Belgium, on March 16, 2020. Three hundred thousand face masks donated by Chinese charities arrived in Liege, Belgium, on Monday, in an effort to help the European country fight the spread of the COVID-19. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)

In a video released by the EU, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen expressed gratitude for China's support in helping fight the coronavirus. The video also revealed that China will provide 200,000 N95 masks, 2 million surgical masks and 50,000 testing kits to the EU. 

This batch of medical equipment and supplies is only a small part of China's increasing assistance and help to European countries badly hit by the pandemic. Medical supplies and Chinese medical workers are already in Italy. China has also sent medical supplies and devices to Spain. Following a call for help from Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, the first batch of test kits from China has arrived in Belgrade.  

Assisting others is extremely important, considering the nature, the scale and the damage of this unprecedented pandemic. The global outbreak and murky future hanging over the world clearly illustrates that in a globalized world, no country can afford to stand idle and watch the misery suffered by others. No country can single-handedly resolve a problem on this scale. This is true for climate change, for the migrant crisis, and for a global pandemic. 

China is being applauded for its success in turning the tide after two months of extremely hard work at every level of the country. Yet it is still not time to rest as there is the threat of imported cases, and risks remain high for the pandemic's spread to vulnerable states. Global cooperation is urgently needed, and love of humanity must overcome narrow-minded nationalism. 

The mutual assistance between China and Europe is very natural. In mid-February when the situation in Wuhan was most urgent, many European governments provided medical supplies to China. Many European leaders sent messages of support, and a great many European businesses assisted China's fight against the coronavirus. China will remember these good deeds. To act quickly to help Europe comes naturally to China, which has always been a trustworthy friend of Europe. 

China is willing to share its experience and practices with Europe, as the world is still in the early stage of understanding the coronavirus. As the first-hit country and with over 70,000 cases cured, China has the most extensive data and knowledge of this new virus. 

China's comprehensive and effective measures are not only inspirational to those struggling with the pandemic, but also serve as a very important reference for others to take seriously, and adapt them to fit their own circumstances. China has now set up additional platforms to share its knowledge and experiences, including hosting a video conference organized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the National Health Commission with 18 European countries. 

A global pandemic calls for global solidarity not narrow-mindedness. Helping Europe as best as we can is also helping ourselves, because no country in a globalized world is immune to the misery of others. The butterfly effect is everywhere, including the grave, potential effects of imported cases and the spill-on damage being done to the global economy. 

China's efforts have caused discomfort in some US media. Some called China's assistance to Europe "coronavirus diplomacy," implying that China is trying to woo Europe in an increasing contentious China-US competition. This assertion reflects the exact narrow-mindedness we should beware of in times of anxiety and uncertainty like this. 

It is clear the US administration has little interest in assisting or coordinating with Europe in the global fight. When the US views China through the prism of great-power rivalry, any good-intentioned thing China does will somehow become a target for US criticism.  

The global pandemic is bad and frustrating but we can work together to contain the damage and turn it into a real global response. Europeans have passionately called for improving global governance for years. The choices we make and efforts we undertake now will provide us with resources we will need to manage other difficult global issues to come. It's time to reject narrow nationalism and inspire a global community with a shared future. China is leading a positive narrative and taking strong actions in a global response to the virus. It needs its global partners to join the effort. 

The author is an assistant research fellow at the Department for European Studies, China Institute of International Studies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus