A SovereignPH.com EXCLUSIVE
A survey of Covid-19 implications from an international perspective
by Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan
‘Kuya China’ to offer vaccine at cost
As the West mopes, China continues to take the high road expressing the compassion of a big brother, Asian socialist-style.
On May 18, 2020 the Global Times, the People’s Daily’s sibling publication, bannered this headline “China’s Covid-19 vaccine to become global public good when available.”
Breaking a self-imposed silence as the West politicizes the corona virus, President Xi Jinping, who made the announcement, was speaking as a head of government and leader of a nation, was very specific that the public is the “global public,” declaring that China’s Covid-19 vaccine when it is finally introduced for medical use, will be provided to the World without profit.
Xi said China will provide $2 billion over the next two years to help the global response to the pandemic and boost social and economic activity, particularly in developing countries “This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries,”
Herman Tiu Laurel, in his SovereignPh.com column, explained that China will of course recover the cost so that many more will receive the benefit. “That is reasonable and really generous and benevolent. It is also wise and healthy for all, as a pandemic can never be stamped out while there are poor nations that harbor the virus.
“In contrast to China’s offer of its vaccine for the dreaded Covid-19, the U.S. is tethered to the profit motive in developing its Covid-19 vaccine.”
There are endless anecdotes about the dilemmas this profit seeking U.S. system creates, Laurel added.
In February of 2020 in a congressional hearing on the yet unfolding Covid-19 outbreak in the U.S., Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar responding to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in a congressional hearing, that although he would want to make the vaccine affordable, he cannot guarantee it.
“We can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,” Azar said.
The American media and public raised a howl to Azar’s answer as it is those who cannot afford who will need it most and will continue to be the vector or carriers of the virus if it is not affordable and administered to them.
In March 2020 Germany’s Health Ministry confirmed a report in newspaper Welt am Sonntag that President Donald Trump had offered funds to lure the CureVac to the U.S. to make it exclusively for the U.S.
Although later denied, it does not erase the dint of monopoly profit seeking of the U.S.
Laurel elaborated that the financial press has been reporting the rise of pharmaceutical and biotechnology stocks as investors are paying special attention to health investments in anticipation of the winners in the Covid-19 vaccine race, expecting the huge payoffs at the end of the pandemic vaccine rainbow.
“But with China’s ‘global public goods’ perspective pushing cost-based and not profit-based Covid-19 vaccines, profit seeking pharma and biotechnology firms of the West will certainly find a dampening factor to the bonanza they seek from the pandemic.”
President Xi Jinping’s announcement comes at a very timely juncture to provide the contrast between its global philosophy and vision to that of the U.S. and some other countries in the West.
China has been unceasing efforts to introduce a new global vision of a cooperative world embodied in several principles of world relations and governance. Central to its global vision is “sharing” as it appears at the very center of the motto, i.e., “Shared Future.”
This attitude of “sharing” is the key to mankind’s harmonious future, sharing not only of the bounties of science and nature but also on duties and responsibilities to maintain harmony in life and the world, Laurel said.
“For several years now, China has been seeking a world that is a ‘Community of Shared Future for Mankind.’ with a balanced power sharing structure, exemplified in the multi-polar world and enhancement of global trade and commerce of which its Belt and Road Initiative is a model.
“This Covid-19 vaccine as ‘global public good’ as sharing is a perfect example of the acts that China seeks and pursues to ensure that the ‘shared future’ will happen and blossom as the future unfolds, otherwise a world in permanent plague can hold no prospect of tomorrow.”
The history of this philosophy can be traced back to Party Secretary Hu Jintao’s speech to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, and Hu emphasized “mankind has only one earth to live on, and countries have only one world to share.”
So, the slogan has been in use for almost a decade yet few people in the world comprehend the breath of its vision and the sincerity with which it is advocated by China as a nation led by the Communist Party of China.
This is no longer communism as mere ideology, but in praxis, a moving force to constructive action in service of humanity.
Laurel however said the slow absorption by the West of a new world in China’s vision can be attributed to the following:
1) U.S. competitive attitude attempting to suppress any alterative world and economic-political view with its domination of global, English-based media, its extension languages (i.e. Europe) and its geopolitical client states (Saudi Arabia, Japan, among others);
2) Historical skepticism of the intentions of nation-states in foreign relations based solely “national interest” while China’s vision calls for “Win-Win” mutuality.
But China’s persistence in pursuing its vision and intentions slowly persuades more people to open their eyes to this idealism and humanist vision of China and its visionary leadership, Laurel continued.
The Communist Party of China is an ideological party and all 90 million of its leaders and members, are imbued with theories, ideas and the vision of the party. unlike the electoral parties of the U.S. or the Philippines that take personal electoral ambition as the end-all and be-all of politics.
Party leaders and members of an ideological party are attracted to the party by ideas, first and foremost, then performance consistent with the ideology.
Laurel explains that he knew this because he views himself as such person to be attracted only by ideas and vision for the greater good rather than self-interest.
From his youth and student years to his adult life, Laurel shares that he has always been drawn to great causes and felt attached to one great leader or another that may not have always succeeded to land as powerful leaders. “I continue to admire Muammar Gaddafi and have his photo praying in the desert on my wall, even though he has been much pilloried and finally succumb to Western imperialist murder.
“In 2001 I assisted the deposed President Joseph E. Estrada not because I ever benefitted from his stint in power but because he was unjustly ousted, and in 2007 when he offered me the sure win of joining his senatorial line up I declined because I know the present political set up is a farce and I didn’t want to join the charade.
“At the ripening old senior-age I continue to hold on to my ideals and vision even though many of my peers have joined the charade and become rich having rode on the back of the exploitative political system. Yes, I am a true believer that social philosopher Eric Hoffer defined. And I believe many CPC leaders and members are true believers and basically sincere and earnest.”
China with its true believing leadership which arrived at its vision for its country and the World today and of the future, did not formulate its concept from out of empty air. It has an ideological framework which it calls scientific socialism to arrive at its vision based on empirical and theoretical lessons of hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge.
Suffice it to say, in this short piece that the vision China presents before the World and by which practice it offers such novel ideas to this milieu today as this “global public good” from the Covid-19 vaccine it will be producing and distributing to the poorest of the poor of our World to ensure the plague is ended and World order and growth is restored the soonest.
China cuts Australian beef imports
The statement of Xi Jingpin, however, did not come as a voice in the wilderness.
In fact, it came with the compulsion of a world leader, unafraid to enforce his positive message, even among those who continue to sow disunity at a time when the compulsion to unite the world is so strong because of the threat to the entire humanity brought about by Covid-19.
Amid continued insistence of Australia echoing the line of the Trump administration, for an international investigation of China as the origin of the corona virus that emerged in Wuhan in December 2019 and accusations of lack of transparency, the Associated Press reports that China suspended imports of beef from four Australian producers.
China is the No. 1 market for Australian beef, accounting for about 30% of exports.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, criticized Australia’s “erroneous words and deeds,” saying the pandemic shouldn’t be used as a reason to “engage in political manipulation,” that could disrupt international disease prevention.
A month earlier, Beijing shot an arrow across the Australia bow as Ambassador Cheng Jingye warned of trade retaliation in the Australian Financial Review saying that it might enforce Chinese boycott of its tourism and exports of wine, beef and other goods if Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government pressed for an inquiry.
Australia grain exporters said they also received signals that China was preparing to raise duties on imports of Australian barley.
If economic sharing were the carrot, economic deprivation serves as the stick.
Ado Paglinawan is a broadcast anchor at Radyo Pilipinas-1, president and a regular columnist at the country’s newest daily news website SovereignPH.com and its partner magazine The Sovereign. He is a former Philippine diplomat, serving in the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York as press attaché, spokesman and special assistant to Ambassador Emmanuel N. Pelaez. He has served a strategic consultant to Agriculture Secretary Luisito Lorenzo, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo. He studied for 15 years at San Beda College from grade 1 to 4th year college majoring in English and Philosophy, minor in political science and history. He is a veteran of the First Quarter Storm, participating as president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. Ado has taken continuing studies in world politics and diplomacy, international public relations, information technology and remote sensing, and Eastern Christianity and Islamic studies, from various universities in Washington DC.