While the COVID-19 outbreak might trigger a rethink on the current form of globalization, the pandemic also reveals that people around the world are part of a community of shared future when fighting against a common threat, a Malaysian analyst has said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably affected many people’s lifestyles in an inter-connected world as governments are imposing travel restrictions and social distancing in an effort to contain the spread, but it also encourages the application of technology for globalization including distant leaning and video conferencing, said Koh King Kee, president of the Center for New Inclusive Asia, a think tank based in Kuala Lumpur.
“The pandemic affects people’s lifestyles. But I don’t think people will be less connected in any way. Because the physical face-to-face connection may be reduced, but people are connected through the Internet,” he said.
“So it’s going to change the way you connect with people a bit but I don’t think it is going to reduce people-to-people connectivity,” he told Xinhua in an interview on Friday.
Facing the common threat of COVID-19 has actually brought people around the world closer to each other, he said.
“Social distancing doesn’t mean that you are distancing your heart from others. Actually people in a way are more connected. They send messages to each other to make sure friends are okay, just like my friends in Beijing sent me a box of masks; this is very touching,” he said.
“There will be a rethink of globalization, but in the long-term, you just can’t cut the linkage between people,” he added.
Koh opined that it’s time for the world to move beyond globalization to build a community of shared future.
“It’s closer connectivity between the people, not just trade and investment, but now we are talking about people’s hearts, feelings, cultural exchanges, among others,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also a grim reminder that contagious viruses know no borders, he said.
“In our increasingly hyper-connected reality, the virus could spread easily to anywhere in the world in a matter of days. All human beings are members of the global village — if one contracts the virus, it can swiftly spread to the rest.”
Despite being first hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and still vigilant of imported cases to trigger the second wave of infections, China has been pro-active about sharing its experience and information with the world and donating medical supplies to countries hard hit by the virus.
“By extending a helping hand to countries threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak, China is simply embodying the concept of a community of shared future for mankind,” said Koh.