December 29 In 2020, behind the eye-popping global number of confirmed cases and deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic has quietly changed the way the world works and redefines the future.
Indeed, this has been an extraordinary year. What happened this year is like the aftersh of throwing a boulder to the lake, and the ripples spread infinitely to the world, which will affect at least the next decade.
Starting from Britain’s “one hundred years of loneliness”
Late a few days ago, the Anglo-French Cross-Harbour Tunnel in the English Channel was urgently closed. France is worried that the mutant coronavirus found in Britain will fly across the strait and spread to the continent. But all this didn’t help. As of December 28, the mutant virus had spread to 17 countries and regions.
Finally, Britain, which flew alone in Brexit in 2020, unexpectedly predicted that its wave of reverse operations would change from active separation from Europe to forced isolation from Europe; what’s more, one day it will be called the “sick man of Europe” and rejected by the “former” EU without hesitation.
There has been a similar scene in history.
In 1831, also in that sea, British warships were ready to try to keep the germs of the European continent out of the country. But cholera still landed in Britain like a “ghost” and even spread across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, becoming synonymous with “world disease”.
Today, after 189, the space-time distance has been greatly shortened, and the spread speed and scope of the virus are far greater than those of those years; but the world’s response has regressed.
In the early stage of the outbreak of the epidemic, anti-epidemic materials were in great demand. The truck full of anti-epidemic materials was intercepted by the German Customs on the way. The masks scheduled to be shipped to Germany were “cut off” by the United States at Thai airports.
This kind of “modern piracy” occurs between the most globalized and civilized European and American countries in the 21st century, which is unbelievable to some people. But the signal it sends is self-evident: the global governance system is partially dysfunctional and something goes wrong.
United States left a feather, and the multipolar pattern accelerated.
More strikingly, the unilateralism, exclusionism and anti-intellectualism characteristics of the United States, the only superpower, are becoming increasingly prominent. While people who trust the president drink detergent and try to “sterilize the body”, foreign immigrants who have tested positive for nucleic acid and are penniless are being “kicked” by the U.S. government to the other side of the border wall.
Transferring responsibility to the outside world has become another countercurrent that has emerged since globalization was upgraded to version 4.0. The United States, which continues to play the leading role in this matter, ignored the urgency of building a global united front against the epidemic, turned to withdraw from the WHO, leaving a chicken feather, and “corona” more than 19 million confirmed cases worldwide.
According to the U.S. Business Insider website, Europeans’ favorable opinion of the United States has declined since the outbreak of the coronavirus. 76% of Germans’ perception of the United States has deteriorated, and the United States’ position on the international stage is weakening. Correspondingly, under the stimulus of the epidemic, the world’s multipolar pattern has accelerated and deepened.
In the face of the severe situation, the African Union, the European Union and ASEAN respectively convened high-level meetings, the main theme revolved around two words – solidarity. The idea of strengthening cooperation between countries and regions and advocating a community of shared future for mankind have been amplified. This year, the declaration adopted at the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations pointed out that “multilateralism is not an option, but a necessity”.
As Engels said, “There is no great historical disaster that is not compensated by the progress of history.”
“The epidemic has reshaped the relationship and political pattern of great powers, and the trend of global rise and west decline has been further strengthened. The power gap between the two major economies of China and the United States narrows. In an interview with Chinanews.com, Xu Xiujun, a researcher at the Institute of World Economy and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out.
Although the epidemic has hindered the flow of elements in the traditional industrial chain and logistics chain, “if some people want to write an ‘obituary’ for globalization on the grounds of the epidemic, they are missing the key points.” An article in the New York Times pointed out.
“Human beings are a community of destiny,” Xu Xiujun also believes. “The epidemic is in another dimension, making the world more closely connected. The application of digital technology has given birth to the digital economy, which can transcend physical distances and make the world more integrated.
So, what will globalization look like after the pandemic? The Financial Times predicts that a possible trend is to move away from “globalization of things” and support more “virtual globalization”.
Internet-based lifestyle redefines the future
When the epidemic prevention isolation makes everyone feel like they are on an isolated island, the focus of people’s lives shifts from offline to online. Streaming media platforms, communication software, online games, e-commerce and takeaways have become indispensable links between islands.
This year, the fate of individuals, from the country and even the whole of mankind, is also consulted through the Internet. On March 26, the special summit of the G20 was held online. G20 leaders and heads of participating international organizations crossed different time zones and completed the meeting agenda in just over an hour and agreed to make a statement.
At the videoconference of the resumed 73rd World Health Assembly, WHO Director-General Tedros Tedros also called for solidarity to countries through the screen.
Telecommuting, online teaching, graduation in the “cloud”, live wedding, online exhibition, VR travel… Globally, “cloud” services have exploded during the epidemic, and Netflix added 26 million subscribers in the first half of 2020, close to last year’s total; Nintendo S The witch console is out of stock, and game servers such as Honor of Kings and Peace Elite have been crushed by players. Cyberpunk 2077 has become popular, making 2020 look more like science fiction.
A study published on the official website of the National Biotechnology Information Center of the United States said that games are an important tool for growth and connection. During the epidemic, it can even have the same positive impact on the mental health of the elderly.
There are also sports and cultural tourism industries that rely on “popularity” to survive on the “cloud”. In order to fill the “emptiness” of fans, the Mexican Football Association has organized an online football league. In order to promote the country’s culture, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Heritage launched the “Experience Egypt at Home” activity, and people can visit Egypt’s main museums and archaeological sites virtually through videos with explanations.
Virtuality and reality are more closely integrated, “the way people express their true concern or concern has changed”. Canadian writer Gretchen McCulloch said that for many people, written communication suddenly became able to reflect a reality that people need to face together for the first time.
The pandemic of psychological problems is roaring.
At some point, “People are talking about returning to normalcy, and I think it’s impossible.” “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present” Frank Snowden said. “In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic… the pandemic of psychological problems” roared.
The British study found that after patients came out of the intensive care unit, about 40% of people developed anxiety symptoms, 30% suffered from depression, and 20% suffered from PTSD.
At the same time, The Lancet study found that anxiety aggravated by the epidemic and unemployment, loneliness in the face of isolation, etc., can cause a series of psychological problems.
What’s more terrible is that the “secondary disasters” such as the increase of global economic income inequality, the intensification of social contradictions, and the crisis of trust caused by the epidemic have further aroused the hatred and exclusion of ordinary people in some countries.
In response, Xu Xiujun pointed out that the reason for this phenomenon is first of all due to the lack of public awareness of the novel coronavirus itself.
Shen Jiru, a researcher at the Institute of World Economy and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, added for example, saying that the attitude of the Trump administration of the United States on the issue of wearing masks has been left to it, and has rushed to resume work and classes without doing a good job in basic prevention and control, which eventually led to the epidemic prevention and control in the country. Based on this, people’s mentality has also changed dramatically.
In the post-Great Depression, who can fight back?
Looking around the world this year, the epidemic ended the 128-month historic economic growth cycle of the United States, and the euro zone economy is expected to decline by 7.3%.
In Asia, Japan’s tourism stimulus policy has been suspended, and whether the Tokyo Olympics can finally be held is still uncertain.
Emerging economies such as Russia, South Africa and Brazil have been dragged down by the epidemic, and economic uncertainty is high.
Globally, more than one-sixth of young people have lost their jobs due to the epidemic, and 500 million people have returned below the poverty line; Asian Development Bank statistics show that the global economic losses caused by the epidemic range from 5.8 trillion to $8.8 trillion US dollars.
According to the International Monetary Fund’s forecast, the global economy will decline by 4.4% in 2020, the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
In March, U.S. stocks staged a “roller coaster” plunge, melting four times in 10 days, and 89-year-old “god of stocks” Buffett also suffered “live”. In April, U.S. oil futures prices even experienced the first negative oil price in history; in recent months, global supply chains have been hit harder.
However, Xiao Li, director of the International Finance Office of the Institute of Jiufang Finance and the Institute of World Economy and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that although the impact of the epidemic on the economy is difficult to eliminate in the short term, governments will no longer be caught off guard as they were when the outbreak of the epidemic.
The OECD said that the global economy is expected to grow by 4.2 percent in 2021. Because China and South Korea have generally responded well to the epidemic, their economies will account for a large proportion of global growth. And Europe and the United States contribute less to economic recovery than their proportion in the global economy.
With the “salvation medicine”, when will the anti-epidemic marathon reach the end?
Biomedical science has made a major breakthrough due to the epidemic. Russia took the lead in announcing the successful registration of the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, “Sputnik V, on December 8, the United Kingdom became the first country to be vaccinated on a large scale; and the United States also began the first round of vaccination on December 14.
However, the storage conditions of vaccines, such as Pfizer vaccines, are extremely harsh, resulting in some vaccines being scrapped during transportation. Coupled with the adverse reactions of many first vaccinators and the lack of scientific publicity, people’s willingness to inoculate have been hit.
Although the coronavirus vaccine is regarded as the dawn of breaking through the haze of the epidemic, this “light of hope” cannot be sprinkled in every corner of the world at present.
Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine have more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases, but they can only “wait for the distribution of vaccines” through the global COVID-19 vaccine supply program. Canada, which has confirmed more than 430,000 cases, has already ordered more than 400 million doses of vaccine, enough for each citizen to vaccinate five times.
WHO Director-General Tedros Tedros once said: “There is a real risk now that the poorest and most vulnerable people may be trampled in the rush to buy vaccines.”
Shen Yuru pointed out that vaccines should be distributed equitably, especially in countries with more advanced science, technology and biotechnology. In addition to meeting their own needs, support should also be given to supporting other countries that do not have vaccine production capacity. Otherwise, even if there is an “salvation antidote”, the anti-epidemic “marathon” will not reach the end.
Historians believe that pandemics usually end in two senses: one in the medical sense, when the incidence and mortality rate decline sharply, and the other in the social sense, when people’s fear of disease gradually subsides.
“The end of a future pandemic is not because it has conquered disease, but because humans are tired of panic patterns and forced to learn to coexist with disease.”( End)