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Paradigm shift

“We need to discard the Cold War mentality and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes. Our world today is far from being tranquil. Protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one. Even worse are the practices of hegemony and bullying, which run counter to the tide of history. A zero-sum approach that enlarges one’s own gain at the expense of others will not help. The right way forward for humanity is peaceful development and win-win cooperation.”

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The striking feature of the virtual session of the World Economic Forum this year must be the appeal advanced by President Xi Jinping in the dreadful season of the coronavirus pandemic. And not the least because the infection is known to have originated from China’s Wuhan province, from there to spread almost on a global scale. (The why and wherefore remains a subject of conjecture).

The country’s omnipotent President-for-life has called for greater world cooperation against Covid-19. Nay more, he has rejected what he calls the “Cold War mentality”. This must be particularly topical, with Russia and the United States of America ranged on two sides of the geostrategic divide over Ukraine.

The Chinese President has pledged to send an additional one billion doses of vaccine to other countries. This has been couched with an appeal to “other powers” to discard a “Cold War mentality” at a critical juncture ~ the emergence of geopolitical tensions, in itself a veiled swipe at the US. Mr Xi is reported to have orchestrated China’s efforts to share vaccines, counter climate change and promote development at home and abroad.

The forum is being held online in place of the annual jamboree in January in Davos, Switzerland, because of health problems in general linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the various travel restrictions in place. Mr Xi covered the standard themes from previous presentations to international audiences, but went a step further by responding to complaints by China’s trading partners, in effect pledging to open its state-dominated economy to private and foreign competition.

“We need to discard the Cold War mentality and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes. Our world today is far from being tranquil. Protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one. Even worse are the practices of hegemony and bullying, which run counter to the tide of history. A zero-sum approach that enlarges one’s own gain at the expense of others will not help. The right way forward for humanity is peaceful development and win-win cooperation.”

The last two are of supreme importance in the prognosis and treatment of coronavirus. The other theme Mr Xi touched on was the Beijing Winter Olympics, which he stressed would be “streamlined, safe and splendid” because of his country’s zero-Covid policy. Markedly, President Xi has not left China ever since coronavirus was detected in 2019/20.

The government in Beijing has already sent abroad more than 2 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccines. It has plans to provide an additional one billion, notably a donation of 600 million doses to the continent of Africa and an additional 150 million doses to South-east Asia. Mr XI has taken the World Economic Forum beyond the parameters of economic growth and development. He has been riveted to a public health scourge. And so it must be two years after Covid-19 was detected.