GENEVA — Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that his country will send an additional 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other countries, calling for global cooperation to tackle the pandemic and other challenges while urging other powers to discard a “Cold-War mentality” — a veiled swipe at the United States.
Xi touted China’s efforts to share vaccines, fight climate change and promote development in the opening speech of a virtual gathering hosted by the World Economic Forum. After the pandemic coronavirus, the World Economic Forum has moved the meeting to Davos in Switzerland.
Monday was a day of prominent topics: The global epidemic that claimed more than 5.5 million people and disrupted the global economy, and the efforts to combat it were both prominent.
In a panel session on the virus, Moderna’s CEO said the vaccine maker was working on a single-shot booster for both COVID-19 and the flu, while U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci lamented as “very disturbing” the reluctance of many Americans to follow basic measures like mask-wearing and getting vaccinated.
Xi, who hasn’t left China since the coronavirus emerged in early 2020, said his country has exported more than 2 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to over 120 countries and international institutions. He said he would donate an additional one billion to Africa, and another 150 million to Southeast Asia.
Managers of U.N.-backed COVAX, which ships vaccines to developing nations, announced that they have delivered over 1 billion doses.
Xi touched on standard themes from previous international addresses, including responding to trading partners’ complaints by promising to open China’s state-dominated economy wider to private and foreign competition.
As tensions simmer between China and America on issues like Taiwan, intellectual and trade property and South China Sea, his comments are timely.
“We need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes,” Xi said through a translator. “Protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one. … Even worse are the practices of hegemony and bullying, which run counter to the tide of history” — terms Beijing has used to describe U.S. policy and actions.
“A zero-sum approach that enlarges one’s own gain at the expense of others will not help,” he added. “The right way forward for humanity is peaceful development and win-win cooperation.”
Xi said China “stands ready to work with” other governments on climate change but announced no new initiatives and offered no resources. It was for developed nations to offer technology and money, he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took up the environment in his address, pledging his country’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.
India’s growth in the next 25 years will be “green and clean, and also sustainable and reliable,” he said, stressing its commitment to solar power.
While Xi and Modi touted environmental efforts, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ratcheted up his concerns about the use of coal — both China and India are big users — in his call for “real climate action in developing countries.”
“Emissions must fall, but they continue to rise,” Guterres said in his address, appealing for debt relief for developing countries needing help weaning off coal.
Guterres pointed to his call for “coalitions” to help foster a clean energy transition, highlighting U.S.-Chinese efforts to provide China with “adequate technologies” to accelerate that shift.
“India doesn’t like the coalition, but India has accepted several bilateral forms of support, and I’ve been in close contact with the U.S., U.K. and several other countries to make sure that there’s a strong project to support India,” he said.
Guterres stated that two years ago had demonstrated the need for international cooperation to stop climate change and achieve economic recovery worldwide.
During a session on COVID-19’s future, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said he hoped the U.S.-based company would have a combined vaccine booster ready to test in advanced research in the second quarter, saying a best-case scenario would be if the single shot covering both flu and COVID-19 would be ready for use next year.
“I don’t think it would happen in every country, but we believe it’s possible to happen in some countries next year,” Bancel said.
Moderna was criticized for prioritizing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in rich countries. Only a small fraction has reached poorer countries through COVAX. According to him, the company was aiming to produce between 2 and 3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the year. He also stated that the company hopes to receive data on a modified version to combat the omicron variant by March.
Davos is an annual meeting that takes place in eastern Switzerland’s Alpine snows. It attracts many business and academic leaders as well as government representatives. The gathering runs from Friday to Friday and will be addressed by leaders of Japan, Colombia, Germany and Japan.
This report was co-authored by Joe McDonald (Associated Press Business Writer) in Beijing and Maria Cheng (AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng) in Toronto. Sheikh Saaliq from New Delhi, Frank Jordans in Berlin, and Frank Jordans.