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Solidarity as a Solution
Former Australian Prime Minister urges global coordination against the COVID-19 epidemic
By Li Xiaoyang  ·  2020-03-12  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

Since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic does not respect political borders, countries across the globe need to be preparing intelligently for the contingencies instead of succumbing to irrational panic and pandering to racist stereotypes, Kevin Rudd, President of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York and former Prime Minister of Australia, wrote in an article first published on the website of Project Syndicate on March 8.  

As the COVID-19 outbreak becomes a global concern,  xenophobia and racism against China and the Chinese people which refer to the epidemic as Chinese virus are also emerging. According to Rudd, the international communities are supposed to improve solidarity, empathy and compassion for the Chinese people, particularly those suffering from the epidemic in Wuhan, the epicenter in Hubei Province, central China.  

"This virus reminds us afresh that no person or country is an island unto itself...Indifference to the suffering of others gets us absolutely nowhere in marshalling an effective global response to what is demonstrably a global crisis," he said. 

According to Rudd, belligerence is not a policy given the current situation. The United States has issued statements attacking China's authoritarian political system, while it could have established a top-level COVID-19 taskforce with China jointly to place human solidarity above politics.  

Rudd urged more global cooperation in the battle against the epidemic. As he highlighted, a loss of confidence in national and global leadership can still be seen around the world despite the institutional and professional collaboration, which is reflected in public panic and heightened volatility of financial markets. Global confidence will recover only when both the public and markets see that governments collectively have stepped into the breach. Without multilateral efforts, individual countries will simply continue to forge their own paths, which can only prolong the recovery.  

"In times of international crisis, playing the nationalist card is the easiest and crudest form of domestic politics. But in the cold light of day, it doesn't fix a single problem. Only effective global coordination can do that," he said. 

Through steady efforts, China has seen initial achievements in prevention and control of the epidemic and is reaching out to support other countries facing high risks of the outbreak. Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected the epicenter in Wuhan on March 10, calling for further prevention and control efforts to defend Hubei and Wuhan and stressing that the battle against the epidemic has turned the tide. On the same day, the last two temporary hospitals in Wuhan were shut down, marking the closure of all 16 makeshift hospitals in the city. 

Copyedited by Madhusudan Chaubey 

Comments to lixiaoyang@bjreview.com 

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