Chinese people are celebrating the upcoming Spring Festival.
The experience from 2020 suggests that COVID-19 has been a particularly tough enemy. Despite the success in placing it under control after painful lockdowns and extensive nucleic acid tests, relaxation might undermine previous achievements. As a result, travelling during the festive days cannot return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
While patience will be required for a longer period, Chinese citizens can be optimistic about the future. The management of the problem in 2020, the subsequent return of China to growth and the usage of vaccines generate hope for better days to come.
Objectives are clear and straightforward. The pandemic has not derailed the effort to eliminate poverty and has not discouraged the Chinese leadership from striving to create a moderately prosperous society and continue to elevate living standards.
Putting its own house in order, China is gradually strengthening its international presence. As challenges are of transnational character, multilateral cooperation remains the only reliable and safe antidote.
On a frequent basis, China has been reiterating its commitment to acting multilaterally and joining hands with its partners against common threats. China's concept in creating a community of shared future for mankind, first proposed four years ago, encapsulates this philosophy.
Difficulties are tremendous. Limits of international collaboration – in spite of the common objective – were revealed last year. The new administration in Washington seems determined to bring the U.S. back to the international forefront and the Chinese leadership will obviously look to coordinate actions with it.
In his talk during the online meeting of board members of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi said mutually beneficial cooperation ought to be broadened. Although expectations should not be raised very high, the momentum is now better than before.
No light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is yet to be seen. Of course, enhanced global cooperation, especially between Beijing and Washington, will move us nearer the daylight.
The world recession, deepest after WWII, cannot be reversed without a joint response that will also make developing countries the focus of attention. Rising inequalities could be a reason for instability and conflict. The international community needs to act preemptively instead of waiting to mitigate a crisis at later stages.
China has supported a relevant debt relief mechanism for African countries in the context of the G20, while it is continuously seeing the Belt and Road Initiative as an engine of growth to facilitate global recovery.
Last year Chinese citizens were occasionally treated as "carriers" of the virus, at least in the Western discourse. It was a period during which the West was interpreting COVID-19, as if it would respect borders.
This year the situation looks different due to the global consequences of the pandemic. Chinese citizens may still be reluctant to celebrate the victory against the virus that persists internally and externally but are proud of their country, its progress and achievements.
Successful policies are judged in the course of time. The Year of the Ox will not signal a difference in the Chinese thinking but a possible change in the international impact of this thinking. The more world citizens push for solutions, the more international cooperation will flourish. The Chinese ethos can thus gain ground.
George N. Tzogopoulos is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:
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