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China’s Participation in International Cooperation in Fighting against COVID-19: Open and Aboveboard

  By H.E. Dr.Zhao Yongchen Chinese Ambassador to Grenada

  Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, China has, through arduous efforts, not only achieved the domestic victory in the fight against COVID-19, but also made an indelible contribution to saving human lives through international anti-epidemic cooperation. A handful of western media and politicians keep on questioning and obliterating China's anti-epidemic efforts, clamoring for frivolous lawsuits and so-called compensation. It is high time for relevant parties to stop their groundless distorting and malicious hype-up. It is fair to say that China's sacrifice and contribution to the prevention and control of pandemic deserve the respect of all countries in the world.

  1. Life Supremacy, Love Boundless

  China has actively implemented the people-centered principle and put the lives and health of the people in the first place through epidemic prevention and response. “Nothing more precious than people’s lives” has become the common consensus of China's 1.4 billion people. We are fully aware that to protect the Chinese people is to protect the lives and health of one fifth of humankind. The Chinese government has allocated huge amount of financial funds to treat all those infected with COVID-19 free of charge. Special medical centers were set up quickly, medical equipment were purchased and mobilized to guarantee the victory of the fight against epidemic. Medics spare no efforts to treat the patient infected, never giving up a single life no matter even if he/she is over 90 years old. In response to President Xi’s call, people all over the country selflessly participated in this people's war and consciously quarantined at home. Countless medics, community workers, volunteers, public security officers and grassroots groups devote themselves to the epidemic prevention and response day and night. The great love shown by Chinese ordinary people is touching.

  Chinese people sympathize with those who were threatened by the pandemic. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have successively telephoned dozens of foreign leaders, expressed deep sympathy and solidarity to the governments and people suffering from COVID-19, as well as China’s willingness to provide help to the best of its ability. The Chinese government always honor our commitment. If one country asks for help to meet the needs for life-saving, China will overcome its own difficulties, provide assistance with its ability without hesitation.

  Chinese people have grateful hearts. The sympathy, support and assistance given by those countries and people in the early days of the outbreak, has been remembered. A drop of water in need shall be returned with a spring in deed. We are always ready to reciprocate acts of friendship and kindness from others. We will continue to stand with those countries and fight alongside.

  Chinese people have the traditional virtue of repaying goodwill with greater kindness, especially for countries that extended helping hands during the difficult time of China. For example, when the epidemic broke out in Italy and its allies denied to help, it was China who mobilized a large number of medical supplies and used charter flights to deliver necessary medical supplies, thus timely addressed the urgent needs of Italy. This is inseparable from the historical sentiment which Italy gave China valuable assistance during the Sichuan Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, and also relates to Italy's feat of breaking through the obstacles made by some countries and joining the Belt and Road Initiative. China also reciprocated the act of kindness to some traditional friendly countries such as Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, etc. regardless of cost. It is natural for Chinese people to reciprocate an act of kindness, we never overpromote that.

  China always matches its word with concrete deeds. China contributes its share, and promotes international cooperation in the fight against pandemic. First, as a major country, China actively engages in international cooperation and provides help to other countries and international organizations in saving lives. This is how we fulfill our international obligation. Second, China adopts an indiscriminate life-saving policy to provide support for pandemic prevention and control. We not only helped developing countries with weak medical conditions, but also provided a large number of medical supplies to developed countries. Third, China returns good for evil. We also help those unfriendly countries in the fight against the pandemic, even they used to try their best to smear or slander China. The only consideration for China to do so is saving more lives. In the early days of the pandemic outbreak in China, the United States kept on gloating and discrediting the efforts of the Chinese government. Since the epidemic spread in the United States, it fabricated lies to stigmatize China, in an attempt to shift the blame and responsibility, sought all excuses for its own failure. But China did not refuse the United States' request for help. As of now, China has provided more than 13 billion facial masks to support American people. Chinese businesses, private sectors and a lot of individuals are also providing help to the US citizens. Nobody can imagine if the US would do the same to China.

  2. Weal and Woe, Helping the Poor

  As the most widespread, contagious and harmful public health crisis facing humanity since World War II, COVID-19 has affected more than 200 countries to varying degrees, with 6 million people infected and 350,000 people died so far. A global suspension of production, business operation and school classes is incurred, constituting a huge blow to the world economy and social lives of people in all countries. In this rare and difficult time, China stands firmly together with all peoples of the world to fight against the epidemic, making huge sacrifices and tremendous contributions.

  To share experience timely is a priority agenda for China. Since COVID-19 was first reported in China, China adopted the most comprehensive and thorough anti-epidemic measures, namely, early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment. With the spread of the epidemic, lockdown was first implemented in Wuhan, a city with an 11 million population, followed by immediate nationwide monitoring of epidemic development. Both urban and rural areas have taken strict social prevention and control measures. The central government quickly set up two large specialized hospitals and a large number of makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, and mobilized more than 42,000 doctors and nurses from 19 provinces and municipalities across the country to support Wuhan and Hubei Province. Both Chinese and Western medical methods were adopted to treat all infected patients. It took China only three months to control the epidemic and win the anti-epidemic battle. China's successful practices and experience have been widely recognized and commented by the international community. To help other countries, China has gone all out and imparted these experiences and strategies to countries in need, providing intellectual support for targeted anti-epidemic efforts and treatment of patients in all countries of the world, sharing the wisdom of China.

  Large-scale assistance or provision of medical supplies is an important measure of China's international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic. With the most complete industrial system in the world and unmatched production capacity, China organized the production of medical materials in an orderly and effectively way, which meets not only the urgent needs of China, but also the needs for epidemic prevention of all countries in the world. China has successively provided more than 56 billion masks, 250 million pieces of protective clothing and a large number of ventilators, testing instruments, test kits, and other medical supplies to more than 150 countries and 4 international organizations, a large part of which were gratis. In addition to government assistance, many Chinese companies and institutions such as Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have also provided free assistance. It can be said that without China's strong capacity of producing medical supplies, the need for emergency rescue in most countries cannot be guaranteed. And as a result, the epidemic would spread more severely than it is now, and more innocent patients would be infected and lose their lives. This is one of China's biggest contributions to the world.

  China tried its best to facilitate the export procedure to ensure the orderly management of the international market. In order to prevent and control the epidemic, countries around the world have adopted various strict measures such as suspension of flight, embargo and ban on entry. How to effectively guarantee the procurement and transportation of medical supplies from China to their own countries has posed quite a problem. China’s Customs, Commodity Inspection and Quarantine Authority, Commercial Management Department, Civil Aviation Administration, etc. adopted wartime management system and implemented strict market management, quality control and transportation supervision, an effective guarantee to the smooth customs clearance and transportation of medical supplies purchased by other countries, and a strong backup to the epidemic prevention and control endeavor of these countries.

  China dispatch a lot of medical teams to countries where the epidemic is severe and soliciting assistance. Not only has China mobilized 46 medical teams currently stationed in African countries to help these African countries fight the epidemic, but has also unconventionally sent medical teams to other 24 countries that have sought help, including Italy and other developed countries. When organizing a medical team, all the doctors and nurses selected are those with rich experiences in dealing with COVID-19. Upon arrival, these medical experts were directly involved in the treatment of patients, organized training courses for local medical staff and imparted medical experiences. Due to the remarkable efforts, some countries have asked the Chinese medical teams to directly take over some wards or extend their stay to help fight the epidemic. These medical workers are not only involved in saving lives, but also assume the important task of spreading Chinese virtues, and convey love and warmth to the world.

  Counterpart medical support is a new model for public health cooperation. One of the five major commitments that President Xi Jinping solemnly put forward at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) is to establish a cooperation mechanism of counterpart hospitals with 30 most-in-need countries. In this model, 30 hospitals in China are directly paired up with hospitals in Africa for targeted assistance. The scope of this kind of assistance is much wider than remote diagnosis and treatment cooperation, also including like medical staff training. This new model of cooperation is proposed on the basis of China’s poverty alleviation experience. It has been a long-time and effective practice in China that some economically and socially advanced areas establish a number of counterpart support mechanisms with backward areas to provide various kinds of poverty alleviation support, including medical assistance. During the anti-epidemic cooperation, many local governments in China have actively drawn on these experiences and carried out lots of substantive cooperation with their sister cities in other countries, which has been proved very successful.

  3. Hand in Hand, Working Together

  China advocates comprehensively strengthening international cooperation in fighting against COVID-19. The novel coronavirus virus is a greatest enemy facing mankind. Regardless of nationalities and races, it is only through working together, reaching consensus and resolutely fighting this enemy that the human society could win the combat. China always calls for belief in science, instead of rumors; confidence instead of fears; uniting and cooperating, instead of conflicts or racial discrimination; taking responsibilities instead of shifting the blame. China proposed the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting for discussing and adopting common measures to jointly safeguard public health of human beings. As of April 12, 2020, China had held 83 video conferences on containing and fighting COVID-19 with 153 countries, providing strong and professional medical support in response to the outbreak. China's advocates and measures have been the guideline for the international public health cooperation.

  Upholding the banner of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind, we need to promote the building of a Community of Common Health for Mankind. Seven years ago, China’s President Xi Jinping first proposed a major initiative of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind. Facing the sudden global epidemic, countries all over the world truly feel that all our destinies are closely connected. We all live in a global village. We must join hands to work together in fighting the epidemic, no country can solve the difficulties by itself. It was pointed out at the G20 special summit by President Xi Jinping that in order to defeat the COVID-19 epidemic, it is necessary to effectively carry out international joint prevention and control. China will be more than ready to share our good practice, conduct joint research and development of drugs and vaccines. We need to establish regional emergency liaison mechanisms to enable quick response to public health emergencies, and strive to build a Community of Common Health for Mankind.

  China has played a leading role in fighting global epidemic, so as to promote international public health cooperation. The Chinese government has not only put forward major initiatives for international health cooperation, but also undertaken pioneering tasks of sharing anti-epidemic experience, providing medical supplies, assisting in the treatment of patients and conducting vaccine research and development. At the 73rd WHA, President Xi Jinping made five major commitments to the world. China will assist 2 billion USD in the next two years to support those countries affected by COVID-19, especially those developing countries. China will cooperate with the United Nations to set up a global humanitarian emergency warehouse and hub in China, strive to ensure the supply chain of anti-epidemic materials, and establish green channels for transportation and customs clearance. China will establish 30 cooperation mechanisms of partner hospitals in Africa and accelerate the construction of African headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control, so as to help African countries to improve their capabilities on disease prevention and control. After completing the vaccine R&D for COVID-19 and putting into use, the vaccine will serve as a global public product and China will make its contributions to the accessibility and affordability in developing countries. China will work together with other G20 members to implement the Debt Relief Initiative for the poorest countries, and China is willing to work with the international community to increase support for countries with particularly severe epidemics and pressures.

  China has firmly render support to the World Health Organization (WHO) to full play its core role in international public health cooperation. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been working closely with WHO to keep the epidemic information updated. Once Chinese scientists detected the viral gene sequence, it is immediately shared with WHO. China invited WHO to send an international expert team to Wuhan to conduct scientific investigations, exchange results of China's epidemic prevention and controlling, and fully fulfill its obligations under the International Health Regulations. At the critical moment when the United States doubted and blamed WHO, China firmly supported WHO and provided 50 million USD to support the international prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic. At the 73rd WHA, China called on the international community to increase political and financial support for WHO, mobilize global resources to the combat against COVID-19. China has actively participated in coordinating international stances on health policy, made the strong voice heard for reaching consensus to fight against the epidemic, and got wide approval and response from most countries. These measures really show China's strong will and good wishes to jointly protect the lives and health of people of all countries, to protect the common earth homeland of mankind, and to build a Community of Common Health for Mankind.

  4. Universal Love, Fair and Square

  In the face of this huge natural disaster, China's responses are selfless and fair. It is unfair and unacceptable for any foreign forces to label, politicize, and stigmatize the epidemic situation in China.

  In the fight against the epidemic, the Chinese government and people have shown great love for the world. After discovering an unknown pneumonia virus, China immediately reported to WHO without any conspiracy to hide the epidemic. China immediately shared the new coronavirus strain and detected the gene series with WHO and the medical communities of various countries, without a thought of protecting its own intellectual property rights. In terms of virus tracing, China actively supports the efforts of the international community and advocates a comprehensive scientific investigation in order to find out the source, mechanism, and mode of transmission of the new coronavirus, and lay a scientific basis for the prevention and control of the COVID-19. China opposes the politicization of the investigation of the virus, and the stigmatizing accusations that China is the source of the virus. Although China still needs a large number of medical experts, the health authorities shortly sent a large number of outstanding medical experts to the country for help. Medical personnel endure the unbearable pain in areas with severe epidemics, overcome all kinds of difficulties and devote themselves to their work. The engineering and technical personnel and workers of countless factories and enterprises in China are engaged in production work day and night, continuously manufacturing and supplying medical stuff to countries all over the world. Though there is unreasonable criticism, accusation and slander, China continues to do whatever possible to provide assistance while disclosing the truth, clarifying misunderstandings, with concrete actions

  China did not seek huge commercial benefits through human sufferings. As the world's largest industrial and trading country, the Chinese government has mobilized relevant enterprises across the country to make full use of their abilities to produce medical supplies and provide emergency services to the rest of the world. All government organs take concerted actions to ensure the smooth and convenient passage of medical materials for customs clearance, transportation and export trade, and provide medical materials to the users who ordered them in a timely manner. China does not intercept any medical materials from other countries, it assists many countries in obtaining Chinese medical materials. Once any complaints about the quality of some medical products were raised, the Chinese government immediately took strict measures to carry out quality control to ensure that all medical items with acceptable quality. To those countries where appears extreme shortage of medical supplies, China did not take the opportunity to raise prices and seek huge profits, but provided at very fair and reasonable prices sometimes even gratis. This is completely different from the practice of some western capital groups seeking excessive profits, which fully reflects the noble sentiments of the Chinese government and people.

  China did not seek the so-called geopolitical benefits through epidemic diplomacy. Some western countries, accused China of engaging in “mask diplomacy”, using epidemic diplomacy to promote Chinese values and expand international influence. In fact, China plays its role to the best of its ability to help the international community in fighting against the epidemic. It is a manifestation of China ’s responsibility as a responsible major country, and a manifestation of China’s great spirit of serving the world and saving the people. China has never attempted and acted through the epidemic diplomacy for selfish gain. Chinese leaders have never put forward any political conditions for obedience or service to China during frequent calls with foreign leaders. When China provides medical supplies to other countries, it never puts forward any additional pre-conditions. Even for some unfriendly countries, China does not use the stagnation of medical supplies as a means of retaliation. Therefore, any allegation that China has resorted to epidemic diplomacy or epidemic cooperation or assistance for selfish gains is groundless. In this anti-epidemic fight, China not only showed powerful strength, but also showed the great national spirit of the Chinese nation, which is making your contribution to the world while you are better off. The boundless love shown by Chinese people will be recorded in the annals of human history.

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