OPINION: COVID-19 Scourge; From Socioeconomic Wars to ‘Global Peace’

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

There is no event in recent history of the world that did so well to demonstrate how united and peaceful the world could be than the current outbreak of, and effort by the global community to find lasting solution to the pandemic Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The infectious disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO), causes respiratory illnesses (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty in breathing. The virus is spread primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Although, it was neither waged by a lawful public authority in defense of the common good nor waged for a just cause, or with the right intention, yet, looking at the consequence COVID-19 so far visited on the world- the reported deaths of over 6,820 in Italy, and similar figures in other parts of the world, it will not be considered an overstatement to characterize this dangerous and sustained attack as a third world war.

The facts are evident; COVID-19 outbreak has globally propelled unexpected social, economic and political developments that presently frightens the public; embarrassed the world powers; put the credibility and decency of nations under serious scrutiny; brought about threat to, and loss of lives, as well as brought about proliferation of fake news across the world. And forced nations irrespective of colour, nationality, sex, believe or creed to scamper for solution

Admittedly, the world is currently under the siege of coronavirus (COVID-19).  But, in confidence, I see victory. This victory, however, cannot be won alone but collectively. Intelligent men all over the world have seen this fact and consider it a task they must contribute and support. A telling proof to this assertion is a recent scientific report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention center which states that from the first 72,314 people diagnosed with Covid-19, about 80.9% cases were mild. This point to the facts that most people do recover from the illness and here is a similar pattern across the globe.

Here in Nigeria- particularly in Lagos state, there have been some hopeful signs and these signs appear both constructive and rational.

Though I sympathize with the world particularly the victims and health workers, however, from this relatively rare but potentially devastating threat, which have left in its trail; tears, sorrows and blood, come something new and different.

Aside from blowing fresh wind of peace and unity to the world, one observable strategic effects of the emergence of COVID-19, is the scourge’s arrest without regard the political and socioeconomic cold wars among the world powers.

Like ‘a new book which keeps the owner from reading old ones’, the scourge has forced-China, Europe and the United States of America, to abandon their traditional rifts and confront a common enemy.

In my views, we may have to congratulate ourselves that for the first time, the threat of cruel wars is no longer heard in any part of the world-between nations, between one religion and the other. Even in Nigeria, the poor and the rich have for the first time united.

To understand this position more fully, before the emergence of COVID-19, cold or primacy wars raged between China, the United States of America (USA), and of course, Germany and France.

Take as an illustration, a country like the United States of America, under Donald Trump neither interested nor believed in speaking peace. The signs are there and could be spotted in the bellicose pronouncements and actions of the warmonger Donald Trump, particularly in his recent killing of Iran’s highest-ranking general and commander-in-chief of its elite Quds Force, Quassem Soleimani.

Very recently also, Chad P. Bown and Douglas A. Irwin, reported how Trump threatened to leave the WTO, something previous administrations did not do. He says the agreement is rigid against the United States. The administration denounces the WTO when the organization finds US practice in violation of trade rules but largely ignores the equally many cases that it wins.

On the other hand, there was within that period a growing insistence by China that their development model is superior to that of the Wests. it was reported by the Foreign Affairs-one of the most respected journals in the United States of America, that in 2017, XI Jinping of China during a speech claimed that Beijing is ‘blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization and offers a new option for other countries and nations who wants to speed up their development while preserving their independence.

He noted that Western talk about democracy is simply a pretext for robbing poor countries of their sovereignty and economic potentials.

In the same style, Germany has always expressed concern over what a Chinese-led world would look like.

German industry, a report noted, is growing concern about Chinese technological progress. German business leaders who have long supported deeper economic ties with China are now apprehensive about China’s state-led quest for technological supremacy at the expense of German companies. In January, the Federation of German Industries released a widely cited report cautioning companies to reduce their dependence on the Chinese market. Then there is the long-standing issue of Chinese hackers stealing foreign industrial and technological secrets.

Germany was not alone in its awakening.

French president Emmanuel Macron, recently declared an end to ‘‘European naivete’’ on China. It was reported that Macron also invited Merkel and jean-Claude junker, the president of the European commission, to join his meetings with Xi in order to present a united front. The message was clear: Europe will resist China’s attempts to divide it. Many European countries are experiencing what one senior EU official described as “China fatigue,” the report noted.  These grievances are having a mounting effect on German policy toward China. Merkel, now refers to China as a “systemic competitor,”

Continuing, Several European countries have tightened up their screening of Chinese investments. In 2018, the German government, citing national security, blocked a Chinese investor from buying Leifeld Metal, a leading German producer of metals for the automobile, space, and nuclear industries. It was the first time that the German government had voted a Chinese takeover.

The move was followed by a new law giving the government power to block a non-european investor from buying a ten percent or higher stake (down from 25 percent) in a German business. The law includes media companies, a sign that Germany is worried about Chinese information influence. A number of other European countries have adopted similar measures.

It is also worth remembering that some European countries have grown disenchanted with china’s behaviour; they have started to push for a more coherent EU wide strategy. A recent EU white paper on china labeled Beijing a “systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance” and called on the EU to pursue a more reciprocal relationship with china and to strengthen its own industrial base.

I believed and still believe that there are of course, ingrain lessons for the world to learn from the current occurrence. And while it is important for all to stop mass gathering and keep other practices as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the question before us could be of greater importance.

After the COVID-19 scourge, will we continue to live as a people in a united world? Or again fail the future generation by leaving for them a world devastated by wars? Whatever the answer may be, one thing stands out; a united world is possible!

Jerome-Mario Utomi(jeromeutomi@yahoo.com), is a Lagos-based media Consultant.

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