[Beijing Forum 2020] Cooperation, development highlighted at Beijing Forum 2020
DEC . 08 2020
Peking University, December 9, 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic forced guests around the globe to attend the 2020 Beijing Forum online, experts and scholars stressed that cooperation and development are more important than ever while delivering speeches and reports at the event, which kicked off at Peking University on Saturday.
The 2020 Beijing Forum is held at Peking University, Beijing, December 5, 2020. /Peking University
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced guests around the globe to attend the 2020 Beijing Forum online, experts and scholars stressed that cooperation and development are more important than ever while delivering speeches and reports at the event, which kicked off at Peking University on Saturday.
Under the theme "The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All," attendees focused on the opportunities and challenges facing globalization amid the pandemic. Among the topics, cooperation, economy and science and technology development remain the top concerns in the current situation.
In a video speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that inequalities had been rising and divisions widening even before the pandemic, which should serve as a "wake-up call for these ills." He spoke highly of China's achievements in lifting 850 million people out of poverty, saying it is "the greatest anti-poverty accomplishment in history," and called on the global society to get on track and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 2020 Beijing Forum via video link. /Peking University
Cooperation in scientific and technological development
Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, highlighted the importance of progress in science and technology amid the pandemic in his address.
"We have to make much more use of the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution," said Schwab, adding that he could make a long list of technologies he saw advanced during the pandemic, such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and genetic engineering among others.
Qiu Yuanping, Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), also stressed the advances made in technology during the pandemic. She said that the development of digital technology, cloud economy, non-contact service industry, 5G and artificial intelligence have changed society's production methods and living standards, meanwhile reshaping international competition.
Qiu Yuanping, Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), delivers a report at the event. /Peking University
Science and technology have been crucial to containing the pandemic.
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shared China's experience in containing the pandemic when it broke out in Wuhan City.
"Many people don't understand what it means to share the genome sequence. In fact, as long as you know the genome sequence, you can produce diagnostic reagents and develop vaccines," said Wu, referring to China sharing the genome sequence as early as January 12 this year.
More than 150 COVID-19 vaccines are now in development around the globe, and the UK has just granted emergency authorization for a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Vaccines developed by China, Russia, the UK and other countries are going through trials in many countries as well.
"There's been unprecedented cooperation among the scientific community as they have sought vaccines, better therapeutics, better tests," said Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
"They put aside many of the normal kinds of concerns about priority and who gets credit, in the global effort to make sure that we have an effective vaccine, effect therapeutics, effective tests as quickly as possible," he added.
The venue of the 2020 Beijing Forum. /Peking University
Global recovery vital for the world
Stiglitz also expressed concern about global economic recovery.
"The economic consequences of the pandemic have been devastating," he said. Even though the economy shows some signs of bouncing back, it is still concerning that gaps between developed countries and developing countries could be widened, as the latter do not have enough resources. Stiglitz believes that global cooperation and multilateral institutions should work together to provide resources for those countries.
Yasuo Fukuda, former prime minister of Japan, said that economic globalization has greatly contributed to the development of the world, but it has been accompanied with "pains," such as widening wealth gaps. He called for more cooperation and effort to soothe these pains in the process of globalization.
Schwab highlighted the inspiration globalization has brought to the world's economy, which is more emphasis on long-term development.
"I'm very happy that China, with its 14th Five-Year Plan, has established lighthouses, which guide the Chinese people into the future," he said.
"The essential content of any era should be encircled around the issues of survival and development," said Qiu Yuanping, Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), in her report at the forum. She added that in the era of globalization, the survival and development of humanity should be considered as a whole.
Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, addresses the event via video link. /Peking University
What can be done?
While most scholars see the indispensable benefits of cooperation in today's world, especially in the post-pandemic era, many suggested that all possible bodies should be involved.
"Governments have a leading role, but if we want to address the global challenges, we need to engage business, civil society, the young generation. We need to integrate, particularly universities, because universities should have new ideas, new concepts," said Schwab.
Hao Ping, president of Peking University, and Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, both talked about the role of universities in global cooperation.
Hao said despite the obstacles imposed by the pandemic, universities around the global should stay even more open, inclusive and supportive in international cooperation. He cited the examples of Peking University alumni in the global crisis in the past 122 years, as well as in the current pandemic, saying that universities are bridges for people-to-people exchanges, as well as scientific research cooperation. They could provide "an inexhaustible source of power for improving the global governance system."
Hao Ping, president of Peking University, addresses the forum. /Peking University
Toope said in a world where global tensions are rising in issues ranging from trade to security, it is crucial for academic institutions to find ways to continue to work together "where values and aspirations can be aligned."
"In tackling some of the big issues, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis, we need the diversity of backgrounds, of views and of expertise that can only come from equitable, open partnerships," said Toope.