China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the world in remarks Sunday to “champion” global governance and globalization in light of the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“Globalization, multilateralism and global governance should be championed and optimized in the post COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic world,” Chinese state media quoted Wang as saying, speaking to reporters in an extended session. In a rare admission, Wang also said that globalization creates some problems, including “unbalanced” development on a worldwide scale. He offered a novel solution for these issues.
“We need to mitigate the unbalanced regional developmental issues and inequality created by globalization, but the issue of globalization needs to be solved with globalization,” Wang reportedly said. “The most important lesson that can be learned from the [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic is that people’s lives and health are closely connected with each other’s and that all countries are in the same global village.”
Wang’s remarks are part of a greater campaign on the part of the Chinese Communist Party to diminish the power of state governments and expand the scope of international governing venues, particularly those it controls in bodies like the United Nations. Chinese dictator Xi Jinping has made multiple remarks in the past two months urging the world to develop global public health hubs – and establish them in China – and supporting maintaining centralized Chinese control of global supply chains.
Xi has mentioned expanding global governance regularly during public remarks in recent memory.
“Whether it is domestic governance or global governance, we must have people’s sense of fulfillment as the objective and continue to provide confidence and expectations of stability for the people,” Xi said after meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutérres in April 2018. “We need to keep pushing for and improving global governance to deal with this challenge.”
At that year’s BRICS summit – an economic coalition uniting China with Brazil, India, South Africa, and Russia – Xi announced “the next decade will see a profound reshaping of the global governance system.”
More recently, Xi has promised to expand China’s control of global supply chains and its pharmaceutical production capacity, nominally in an attempt to help the world fight the pandemic it created. At the World Health Assembly last week, Xi announced that China would develop a vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus and offer it for free, effectively dissuading the world’s pharmaceutical companies from conducting competing research.
Xi also announced that China would build a “global humanitarian response depot and hub” in China that would hoard medical supplies to more efficiently distribute them worldwide in the event of another pandemic.
While dismissing concerns that trends towards globalization weaken national sovereignty on Sunday, Wang also insisted in the defense of China’s sovereignty, including over territories it does not have legal sovereignty over, like in the South China Sea.
“China will be firmer in its determination and take much stronger measures to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests and resolutely prevent the external forces from interfering in its domestic affairs,” Wang said, referring to what the official newspaper of the Communist Party, the People’s Daily, described “the tasks of Chinese diplomacy in 2020.”
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including the sovereign territory of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia. A 2016 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague declared Beijing’s claims illegal, but the Communist Party has disregarded that ruling. Last week, satellite evidence revealed that the People’s Liberation Army had flooded Fiery Cross Reef, a Philippine territory China has turned into a military base, with a fleet of fighter jets.
Wang called the situation in the South China Sea “more stabilized and better.”
Wang also reportedly defended Chinese “sovereignty” in the face of a growing number of lawsuits against the Chinese state around the world, including in places like the United States, Egypt, Nigeria, and Italy. At least one of the American lawsuits, brought by the state of Missouri, specifically identifies the Communist Party of China as the defendant, not the state of the People’s Republic of China, in an attempt to bypass sovereign immunity. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (R) has also proposed a law to allow an exception to sovereign immunity – which prevents lawsuits against state persons – in cases of coronavirus victims suing China.
“Beijing will not accept lawsuits from other countries on losses from COVID-19 and such attempts to infringe on China’s sovereignty and dignity are doomed to failure,” Wang asserted.
Leaked Chinese documents show that the government was aware of cases of Chinese coronavirus as early as November 2019, yet waited until late January to alert the world to an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan. By the time the outbreak was made public, five million people had left Wuhan for the Lunar New Year holiday, according to the city’s mayor, Zhou Xianwang. Chinese officials also admitted this month that they destroyed early samples of the virus, making it impossible for scientists to study them and trace the pathogen’s evolution.
In addition to “safeguarding” China’s sovereignty, Wang listed in his remarks Sunday among his goals the safeguarding of several economic realities that grant China dominance over world trade: “Wang said the country will also strive to maintain the stability of the global industrial chains, promote trade liberalization and facilitation to counter the downward pressure on the world economy.” Wang’s remarks suggest an expansion of Xi’s promise in March to ensure that China continues to control global manufacturing.