World Peace Forum focuses on the post-COVID-19 world

By Zhang Liying
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 18, 2020
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The 2020 World Peace Forum Special Video Conference opens on June 16, 2020, under the theme of "Post-Pandemic Era: China and the World." [Photo courtesy of Tsinghua University]

The 2020 World Peace Forum (WPF) Special Video Conference opened on Tuesday, under the theme of "Post-Pandemic Era: China and the World." 

The aim of the two-day event is to engage international political leaders and experts in discussing new security challenges facing the world and proposing constructive solutions.

The virtual conference featured four panel discussions, covering topics such as the world order, Asia-Pacific security, China-U.S. relations, and the development of artificial intelligence in the post-pandemic era.

The WPF is a high-level non-governmental global forum on international security organized by China's prestigious Tsinghua University. Since its inception in 2012, the forum has been held eight times, usually in June or July.

President of Tsinghua University Qiu Yong delivers the opening remarks at the 2020 World Peace Forum Special Video Conference held June 16-17, 2020. [Photo courtesy of Tsinghua University]

Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua University, delivered the opening remarks. He explained that the event this year, like many other international forums, had to be held online due to the impact of COVID-19.

Qiu explained that the pandemic poses challenges on multiple fronts, and seems to be shifting global politics onto an undesired trajectory. He quoted former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as saying that the world will never be the same after the coronavirus.

"It is our responsibility to convene this special conference, to provide a platform for leading international strategists to freely interact, and to try to find an effective prescription to problems threatening world peace," he said.

During the panel discussion on the theme of "World Order after the COVID-19 Crisis," Graham Allison, the Douglas Dillon professor of government at Harvard University, said the coronavirus struck like a flash of lightning, illuminating distant horizons otherwise obscured.

"The virus provides a vivid reminder that each nation faces external threats it cannot defeat by itself acting alone," he said.

Allison added that the virus has displayed each government's weaknesses and strengths. He also spoke highly of China's response efforts.

He said that Chinese leaders' recognition of the magnitude of the threat and decisive actions to defeat it — including quarantining a province of around 60 million people — have produced very impressive results.

"Even though there's been a recent outbreak again, if I look at the response, I think it's going to be successful. China's economy in returning to growth and reopening for business is impressive and outstanding," Allison added.

Screenshot of experts participating in the 2020 World Peace Forum Special Video Conference which opens on June 16, 2020. [Photo courtesy of Tsinghua University]

Alexander A. Dynkin, president of the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Russia, said the leading centers of power currently have neither a well-formed understanding nor a clear view of a desirable future world order. 

"Maybe the post-COVID-19 world would have some features of 'no poles,' as scholar Richard Haas pointed out quite long ago," he added.

Volker Perthes, CEO and director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, warned that anti-globalist sentiments which were already becoming popular in some parts of the world will gain further ground in the post-pandemic world, leading to deglobalization and more fragmentation of the international security order.

Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University, said the coming world order will be an "order of bad faith" mainly because of the lack of global leadership. "However, I am still optimistic about the future," he concluded.

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