Input: Yu Pin
Source: China Daily editorial
Twelve years ago the G20 members held their first-ever summit amid the storm of the global financial crisis to seek solutions to an economic calamity of unprecedented scale. Thanks to the coordinated fiscal stimulus programs, the group helped navigate the global economy out of recession before bringing it back to the track of recovery in the following decade. Since then the G20 summit has become a premier venue for securing cooperation to address major international challenges.
Today the world is facing another crisis that threatens all mankind, one with far greater impacts than the one in 2008. The novel coronavirus pandemic is now raging in all parts of the world with more than 58 million people infected and 1.3 million killed. As international trade and investment continue to shrink and flows of goods and personnel are basically at a standstill wiping out hundreds of millions of jobs, the global economy is experiencing the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
In the face of this unprecedented public health crisis with severe economic and social impacts, the world has pinned much hope on the global response to be initiated by the G20, which collectively represent around 80 percent of the world's economic output and 75 percent of international trade. Never before has cooperation and partnerships among the major stakeholders seemed more crucial than during such a crisis. "Solidarity is indeed survival," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, as the G20 leaders held a two-day summit, hosted online this year by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh over the weekend.
His call for unity is needed because countries' responses to the ongoing challenge have been marked by a lack of coordination, and thus failed to prevent a second wave from emerging. Certain countries have also acted in a selfish way to the detriment of others' interest. For example, rather than supporting the World Health Organization in playing a key role in guiding a coordinated and comprehensive health response, the United States, previously its biggest donor, has withdrawn from the international body. Not to mention how some of its politicians have tried to scapegoat China for their own ineptitude and failure in dealing with the deadly virus by playing a blame game and stigmatizing the country.
All this makes it all the more significant for the G20 members to act and speak as one in the fight against the common enemy of humankind. Which is why President Xi Jinping in his speech at the summit called for countries to build a global firewall against the virus, and urged the G20 members to pledge that any coronavirus vaccine will be treated as a global public good and be made available and affordable for everyone and everywhere.
If there is something to be learned from this pandemic, it is that the interests of all countries are interwoven and all have a common stake in the future.