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和记娱bh88285:East Asia mainstay in pandemic fight


The novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. This is the first time since the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in the United States in 2009 that the WHO has raised a health emergency to the highest level. And by Thursday, the virus had spread to more than 160 countries, infecting over 240,000 people and claiming more than 10,000 lives.

The role of East Asia in the fight against the pandemic is crucial. With the situations deteriorating in Europe, West Asia, and uncertainties looming large in the United States, where unfortunately some of politicians are fanning racism and xenophobia, the world is desperately looking for an anchor to remain stable. As a region on the front line of the 和记娱bh88285battle against the virus, East Asia's actions and solidarity will have a huge impact on the course and outcome of the global fight against the disease.

China has passed its most difficult period. President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and the epicenter of the epidemic in China, was a turning point in China's arduous efforts to contain the spread of the disease. With the number of new infections continuing to decline in the country, China has crossed the peak period of the outbreak. As one of the top scientists in the US said China is now close to becoming a "green zone", free of the novel coronavirus.

Other East Asian nations also show positive signs

Positive signs are evident in other East Asian countries, too. The situation in the Republic of Korea is improving as confirmed new cases per day have plunged from 851 on March 3 to below 100 per day on Thursday. Japan has kept its contagion rate at a relatively low level. And Singapore, although hit early, has used its own containment strategy to control the spread of the virus.

The resolve and efficiency of East Asian countries, exhibited in their prevention and control measures, can be a lesson for the rest of the world how to contain the pandemic. In view of the large number of confirmed cases treated and discharged by the hospitals in East Asian countries, especially China, the battle against the novel coronavirus in East Asia constitutes a significant part of the whole picture.

East Asia's fight against the disease is not only to save lives, but also to stop and reduce economic losses in an increasingly interdependent world. For every $10 billion reduction in China's manufacturing output, there is a corres和记娱bh88285ponding reduction in production and sales, worth about $6.7 billion, outside China. This could result in a further slowdown of the world economy which is just emerging out of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Similar scenarios are unfolding in supply chains in East Asia and beyond. Once supply chains, for instance in the semiconductor industry, are interrupted in the ROK and Japan, tech giants such as Apple will be affected on the other side of the planet. This phenomenon is also true for China, Japan and the ROK, as the lockdown in Wuhan forced the production lines of Hyundai and Toyota to ground to a halt even in their own countries. It is only the tip of the iceberg of the close economic interconnectedness in today's globalized world.

Important to sustain global financial order

Notably, East Asia's fight against the coronavirus has had a preventive effect on the global financial order. This month has witnessed a historic stock market crash, partly sparked by panic the pandemic has created in the United States, which has affected the major economies around the world. Even after the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped by more than 20 percent, worse than that during 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street experts warned it was not a good time to buy in. The global financial order needs to be sustained by strong actions to contain the pandemic, and East Asia is possibly the only region at this stage where the virus is being effectively contained.

Moreover, East Asia's initial victory over this non-traditional threat has its significance for the world's strategic stability in the medium term. It is not a coincidence that the stock market volatility has coincided with a recent steep fall in oil prices. Behind the price war led by oil producers, there is a fear of global deflation caused by the panic over the virus, which has substantively disturbed international markets.

In other words, the pandemic is having a negative ripple effect, economically and financially, on the current world order. Considering the deterioration in the macro environment due to the fierce major-power competition and the moral degeneration of US politicians, some of whom have called the novel coronavirus the "Chinese virus", a worse-case scenario cannot be ruled out. In a world of increasing complexity, though, East Asian countries are bound to maintain strategic sta和记娱bh88285bility to prevent the region and the和记娱bh88285 world from sliding into a major crisis.

China, Japan, ROK should deepen mutual assistance

East Asian countries, especially China, Jap和记娱bh88285an and the ROK, therefore, should urgently strengthen mutual assistance and cooperation, and resolutely curb the transmission of the virus in the region. Drawing from China's experience, Japan and the ROK need to attach equal importance to stopping the spread of the virus and resuming production. The former is to save lives and maintain social stability, while the latter is to help restore the economic dynamics by providing strong support logistically, financially and technologically. Both are indispensable for achieving total victory over the pandemic.

There is also a need to take more specific and effective measures. First, a multilateral coordination mechanism for disease prevention and control needs to be established, aimed at information sharing, visa management and customs clearance, to maintain the free movement of goods, capital and service in the region.

Second, industrial cooperation should be enhanced, especially among China, Japan and the ROK, through the East Asian government-business-university-research collaboration model in order to ensure the stability of transnational supply chains, exchanges of medical experiences and technologies, and to accelerate R&D in medicines and vaccines.

Third, it is important to promote righteous and rational behaviors and join forces with all stakeholders, in order to curb the pandemic. The international community cannot afford to waste valuable time and resources on stigmatization, as it would mean fighting a man-made virus along with a natural one.

Move to safeguard regional public health

The virus respects no borders, so every country and region is required to appropriately respond to it. Since the outbreak, East Asian countries have been making extraordinary joint efforts to safeguard public health both within their borders as well as in the region. After the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the coronavirus outbreak in February, the foreign ministers of China, Japan and ROK held a trilateral video conference on Friday. And it is expected that ASEAN member states, and China, Japan and the ROK will further enhance communication and coordination on fighting the pandemic.

A regional network for combating the virus is taking shape, which will influence the regional and global situations with the resolve, speed, and action of the East Asian countries and its peoples. The world is counting on such a network.

The author is an observer of current affairs. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.