Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed a million on Tuesday, Beijing time. It’s shocking. In the US alone, the virus has killed over 200,000, more than the combined deaths from five wars, including the Korean and Iraq wars. What’s most heartbreaking is that most of those deaths could have been avoided.
In the battle between the people and virus, the former have suffered a defeat. The US, as the worst-hit but most powerful country, should take the blame. If international society has neither the ability nor resolve to reflect on this fiasco, or should the US continue to take a passive attitude or even resist global cooperation in the pandemic fight, then mankind will have to pay an even more painful price.
China is the only populous country that has effectively put the deadly epidemic under control. The Chinese people are going to embrace the National Day holidays, during which hundreds of millions of people will travel within the country to enjoy a rare moment to relax this year. This is a remarkable result of the Chinese people’s arduous efforts to fight the epidemic. Of course, China should not show off. But attempting to belittle China’s achievement, picking a hole in it is something driven by an unhealthy and gloomy mentality.
In today’s pandemic fight, it has become clear who our enemy is. What is also obvious is the necessity for global cooperation to fight the coronavirus. However, loopholes remain in global cooperation against the pandemic. With the strong disruption from Washington, political disputes have outweighed public health cooperation, which has led to more infections and deaths.
Although territorial disputes remain, countries’ impulse to expand territories has greatly declined. The traditional geopolitical struggle will drift far away from where people’s concerns lie. What people are most concerned about are the common challenges facing mankind such as public health security, climate change and environmental issues and so on. These must be tackled through joint efforts of all countries.
At this moment, whoever tries to divide the world is sure to be condemned in history. The Trump administration has failed to effectively deal with the coronavirus, and is dividing the world at the peak of the pandemic. What it has done will become a huge stain of this US government.
The world faces daunting challenges in fighting the pandemic. It’s already autumn in the northern hemisphere and winter is not far away. As the temperature drops, the global pandemic is gaining a fresh momentum. Many European countries, which enjoyed relief for several days, face the impact of the second wave of the epidemic. The coronavirus is spreading in India, China’s southern neighbor, at an astonishing speed. Some predict India will become the world’s most epidemic-hit country. Then, of course, there’s the US.
As long as one country fails to tamp down the virus, people’s battle against the pandemic cannot be declared a victory, and China’s epidemic prevention and control achievements will be fragile. The Chinese people have a quite sober understanding of this.
The world is revolving around the pandemic in 2020. Mankind will eventually defeat the coronavirus – no one doubts this. The question is how big a price will have to be paid. The cost of a million lives was unimaginable in the past. Some public health experts estimate that may grow to two – even three – million.
The most pressing challenge the world is facing now is to prevent the numbers from further rising. What lessons have been learned after we have paid such a high price? What kind of adjustments will the world make? These are the key to avoiding the reemergence of a global tragedy.