The need for multilateralism in time of COVID-19

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 18, 2021
Adjust font size:
Workers unload CanSino COVID-19 vaccines at Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 30, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The ravages of the coronavirus show no country in this modern age can single-handedly combat all challenges, especially those caused by nature. Sufferings bring us together as evident by the instances of support being offered in the wake of the COVID-19 eruption by different nations, especially China, to countries around the world hit by the pandemic. It is just one example of multilateral efforts to jointly confront a challenge faced by humanity. 

Going through the literature about natural or man-made calamities that may befall humanity, it becomes abundantly clear that the current virus is neither the first nor the last one. Countries, no matter rich or poor, are vulnerable to such threats to public health. Therefore, it should serve as a wakeup call to get united and prepare for futuristic viral disease. 

In this context, the importance of multilateralism is manifold. To put it plainly, global cooperative efforts are required whenever our health, security, stability or peace is threatened due to various known or unknown factors. In other words, multilateral approach, despite the reservations of some nations, is the surest way to address global complications.

What is multilateralism and how it can help to address the most pressing challenge of our life or other future problems? 

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently addressed a meeting of the U.N. Security Council where he expounded four principles helpful to understand the concept.

First, he said, all parties should pursue win-win cooperation, not a zero-sum game. Second, all parties should seek fairness and justice, and not engage in bullying. Third, all parties should focus on action, instead of mere talk. Fourth, all parties should respect diversity, and refrain from pursuing supremacy.

Putting the concept in the perspective of effort to tackle the coronavirus, the key lesson of multilateralism is to pool all resources and efforts. 

What we have seen so far is that there are too many cases of isolated struggle. Some of them have succeeded in containing the pandemic, but only a few have readily involved the sharing of experiences and resources with lower-income countries really needing help. 

Given this, China is taking the lead by providing millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines and other supportive materials to the poor nations. 

However, some developed nations have been reluctant to share their experiences and research fruits with others. "Vaccine nationalism" is something that must be discouraged, as it could seriously hinder global anti-pandemic efforts.

It is high time that we embrace a multilateral approach to create a united world capable of containing the pandemic and building strong firewalls to forestall similar health problems in future. 

Only by synchronized multilateral efforts can we beat this global threat. 

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

If you would like to contribute, please contact us at

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from