President Xi Jinping of China announced on Monday that his country will send an additional 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to other countries, calling for global cooperation to combat the pandemic and other challenges and urging other powers to abandon a “Cold-War mentality,” a veiled jab at the US.
In the opening speech of a virtual gathering held by the World Economic Forum, Xi praised China’s efforts to distribute vaccines, combat climate change, and promote growth. The online event comes after the group’s annual conference in Davos, Switzerland, was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, efforts to combat the global outbreak that has cost over 5.5 million lives and thrown the international economy into disarray, as well as climate change, were key themes.
Moderna’s CEO said the vaccine maker was working on a single-shot booster for both Covid-19 and the flu during a panel discussion on the virus, while US infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci described the reluctance of many Americans to follow basic precautions like wearing masks and getting vaccinated as “very disturbing.”
Xi, who hasn’t left China since the coronavirus surfaced in early 2020, said that his country has shipped more than 2 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to more than 120 countries and international organisations. He announced intentions to send an additional 1 billion doses, with 600 million doses going to Africa and an additional 150 million going to Southeast Asia.
Managers of the United Nations-backed COVAX vaccine-delivery programme revealed over the weekend that they had distributed 1 billion vaccine doses to underdeveloped countries.
Xi returned to familiar themes from prior overseas talks, promising to open China’s state-dominated economy to private and foreign competition in response to trading partners’ grievances.
Tensions between the US and China have been simmering on issues such as Taiwan, intellectual property, trade, human rights, and the South China Sea.
“We must abandon the Cold War mindset in favour of peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes,” Xi stated through a translator. “No one can be protected by protectionism and unilateralism….” Even worse are hegemony and bullying behaviours, which are “against the tide of history,” as Beijing has described US policies and deeds.
“A zero-sum strategy that maximises one’s personal gain at the expense of others will not assist,” he added. “Peaceful development and win-win cooperation are the best paths forward for humanity.”
Xi stated that China “stands ready to collaborate with” other governments on climate change, but he did not provide any new initiatives or resources. He stated that it was the responsibility of industrialised countries to supply funds and technology.
In his speech, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the environment, promising that his country would achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
In the next 25 years, India’s growth will be “green and clean, as well as sustainable and reliable,” he stated, emphasising the country’s commitment to solar power.
While Xi and Modi praised environmental initiatives, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised his concerns about the usage of coal in his demand for “serious climate action in developing nations,” using China and India as examples.
“Emissions must decline, but they are still rising,” Guterres said in his speech, pleading for debt relief for developing countries who are struggling to transition away from coal.
Guterres emphasised his need for “coalitions” to aid in the clean energy transition, citing US-Chinese cooperation to offer China with “sufficient technologies” to speed up the transition.