The world, under siege by virus and war, needs to salvage its virtue
First Voice

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When CGTN First Voice covered the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in 2021, we wrote that force can't run the world. "It is virtue that would bring about the happiness that people desire and the development the world seeks," we believed.

A year later, as Boao Forum 2022 commences, virtue has been receding. COVID-19 still rampages. Death toll in the United States is expected to soon surpass one million. Shanghai, a city of 25 million people, is tested by the most severe outbreak in China since early 2020. And the world is facing the most severe division since the end of the Cold War. The Ukraine conflict has pitted Russia and the West against each other. And while they are facing off on the battle field, NATO countries are supplying military assistance and imposing sanctions against Russia and the country's leadership personally.

"Countries are like passengers aboard the same ship who share the same destiny," Chinese President Xi Jinping said during his speech at this year's Boao Forum. The international community has already evolved to a point where it is now a sophisticated and integrated apparatus. Removing any single part will cause serious problems to the entire operation.

With the divisions sown, the international apparatus is facing unprecedented challenges and is on an unpredictable course. In his address, President Xi proposed a Global Security Initiative to promote security for all in the world. Most importantly, under the current climate, it's important to build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture and oppose the pursuit of one's own security at the cost of others'.

Military personnel are seen at a Ukrainian frontline in Donbas, Ukraine, April 11, 2022. /VCG

Military personnel are seen at a Ukrainian frontline in Donbas, Ukraine, April 11, 2022. /VCG

Everybody stands to lose if the international apparatus disintegrates. And the losing has already begun. In the Ukraine conflict, nations who are trying to make responsible decisions for themselves are been squeezed. India, with its hundreds of millions of poor people, is being pressured to stop purchasing oil from Russia, threatening its energy security. China, with all its efforts to mediate a peaceful solution in the Ukraine conflict, is seen as either colluding with Russia or tacitly supporting its military actions in Ukraine. Neutrality, which was a possibility before, seems to becoming a position difficult to hold. This is putting the entire global economy into jeopardy, and risking the development achieved so far.

The turbulence and the division had led the International Monetary Fund to downgrade global growth forecast to 3.6 percent this year, lower than the 6.1 percent in 2021 and 4.4 percent in 2022. Emphasizing the rapidly changing situation, IMF's Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that "the war may get worse. The sanctions might tighten up. COVID may roam again around the world… for policymakers...a tough time."

As IMF's report pointed out, China is seen as the "stabilizer" in the region, and contributes significantly to the recovery of the Asian economy. In today's world, Asia is also the stabilizer of the global development. Asian cooperation is crucial in the world rocked by geopolitical uncertainties between major powers. "Asia accounts for almost half of the world's economic output and its economic growth is also faster than the rest of the world. With the advancement of regional integration, the Asian economy will play a more important role in global stability," Vice President of the Research Institute of BFA Cao Li told the Global Times.

As President Xi pointed out numerous times, the world is undergoing great changes that have not been seen in a century. It's truer now more than ever. Force has taken over and peaceful development seems like a distant dream. But, if the world believes that peaceful development is the best way forward, then we need to walk toward it despite the bumps and hurdles on the road.

And it is a worthy path. As we said last year and will say again this year, it is up to all participants in global affairs to protect the fruits of the past decades. After all, it is not force, division or conflict that would bring happiness that the people desire and the development the world seeks.

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