The Daily Mail, Pakistan
Beijing plans actions to boost int'l co-op in virus combat
By Ma Miaomiao  ·  2020-07-09  ·   Source: Daily Mail

China will continue international cooperation in the global battle against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), provide foreign assistance and make its domestically developed vaccine a global public good when available. President Xi Jinping made the announcement at the opening of the 73rd Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) via video link on May 18.

"China will provide $2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response, and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries," Xi said at the meeting of the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

As the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II, COVID-19 had hit over 210 countries and regions, infected more than 5 million people and claimed over 330,000 lives as of May 21.

Xi pointed out that confronted by the ravages of COVID-19, the international community has not flinched. "The people of all countries have tackled the virus head on. Around the world, people have looked out for each other and pulled together as one. With love and compassion, we have forged extraordinary synergy in the fight against COVID-19," he said.

George Papandreou, former Greek Prime Minister, told Xinhua News Agency, "It is important to put aside narrow nationalistic perceptions and find a way to work together. Our countries may have different experiences, systems and levels of development, but we can certainly find common ground for collaborating on the most important shared problems."

He said, "Putting the interest of our peoples first does not mean unilateralism. It means cooperation for the benefit of all. It means peaceful collaboration, learning and helping each other."

Support for WHO

In his speech, Xi called on the international community to increase political and financial support for WHO in order to mobilize resources worldwide to defeat the virus.

A draft resolution on COVID-19 adopted at the WHA by consensus on May 19, drafted by the EU and co-sponsored by dozens of countries, affirms and supports WHO's leading role and calls on all member states to prevent discrimination and stigmatization, combat misinformation and disinformation, strengthen international cooperation and research into the zoonotic source of the virus, and at the appropriate moment, evaluate the work of WHO.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne reportedly described it as international support for an "independent review" of the pandemic and "a win for the international community." But according to Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, on May 20, the content of the draft resolution was totally different from what had been alleged by the Australian side earlier.

"For example, the draft resolution proposes to start assessment in due time instead of an immediate so-called review, reaffirms the key leading role of WHO instead of switching to other leaderships and calls for summarizing experiences and lessons gathered in international health responses coordinated by WHO instead of a 'presumed guilty' investigation targeting a specific country," Zhao explained.

He said the document asks for a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, which indicates that the evaluation shall not be monopolized by a handful of countries.

China has reiterated many times that it welcomes a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 after it is brought under control to sum up experiences and address deficiencies. More importantly, this work should be based on science and professionalism, led by WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner.

The draft resolution was proposed by more than 60 WHO members, and calls for solidarity and cooperation. It did not follow the agenda of some ulterior-motivated politicians in the United States and Australia or allow them to manipulate international institutions, said Yu Lei, a researcher with the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries, Liaocheng University in Shandong Province.

One-sided accusations or demanding retribution and accountability will only lead to a vicious circle in global public health governance and pose a grave threat to the health of all humanity, Han Yiyuan, an assistant researcher with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said.

Yang Huafeng, a professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, echoed Han's view, saying that questions such as how the pandemic spread and what are its epidemiological principles are crucial to prevent the next possible pandemic, but should never be used as an excuse by some to blame others or as an excuse to shirk responsibilities.

Helping the most vulnerable

With painstaking efforts and enormous sacrifice, China has turned the tide in its fight against the virus. As the spread of the coronavirus continues globally, it has done everything in its power to support and assist countries in need.

Fully aware of the weaker public health systems in developing countries, African countries in particular, Xi proposed at the WHA to provide more material, technological and personnel support for African countries. He said China has sent a tremendous amount of medical supplies and assistance to over 50 African countries and the African Union. Seven Chinese medical expert teams have also been sent to Africa while 46 resident Chinese medical teams are also helping with COVID-19 containment efforts locally.

In the future, China will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate building the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity, Xi added.

According to Xu Shicheng, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, along with high-level exchanges on battling the pandemic, China and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries have carried out extensive cooperation, highlighting the building of a community with a shared future.

China has donated or facilitated the procurement of medical supplies to countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico. It has also sent medical expert teams to many LAC countries and shared its prevention and treatment experiences. An online sharing event on March 24 alone attracted close to 200 government officials and health experts from 24 countries in the region.

Since late February, Wang Guiqiang, an infectious disease expert at Peking University First Hospital, has participated in 16 teleconferences jointly organized by the Foreign Ministry and the National Health Commission. He and other Chinese participants exchanged ideas on COVID-19 control, diagnosis and treatment with foreign officials and medical workers.

"So far, more than 200 countries and regions have been involved in these activities," Wang said at a press conference in Beijing on May 19. "We have been sharing the latest diagnosis and treatment guidelines as well as our firsthand experiences in battling the virus to help the rest of the world reduce mortality rates."

China is also actively pursuing international cooperation in research and development of drugs and vaccines. The National Research Council of Canada said on May 12 that it is working with CanSino Biologics Inc., a major vaccine developer in China, to file applications for clinical trials in Canada.

Travel facilitation

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global industrial and supply chains. With the outbreak beginning to peak in some countries, their attempts to reopen the economy have highlighted the urgency of facilitating essential cross-border personnel exchanges in the areas of commerce, logistics, production and technical services.

In a move proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, 200 personnel from the Republic of Korea (ROK) took off for Tianjin to resume work in the north Chinese city through a fast-track mechanism on May 10.

Under the new entry system, after passing through health-screening and quarantine procedures, ROK travelers will be quarantined for a shorter period of time in China, and their whole stay in China will be effectively managed, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Chinese travelers to the ROK who wish to use the fast track need to apply for exemption from quarantine when applying for visa. If they meet the conditions for approval and test negative for the coronavirus before departing for and after arriving in the ROK, they will be exempted from quarantine and accept flexible epidemic prevention management.

"The arrangement will provide convenience for key personnel exchanges as required for resuming work and production while ensuring epidemic prevention," Xing Haiming, Chinese Ambassador to the ROK, said. It will help maintain and develop bilateral business and trade cooperation, and keep the industrial and supply chains in both countries running in a stable and smooth manner, he said.

Park Seung Chan, Director of the China Business Research Institute in the ROK, told People's Daily on May 15 that the two countries have also strengthened collaboration in healthcare and other areas in the process of jointly fighting the epidemic.

China is willing to discuss establishing similar mechanisms with other countries, with talks already underway with some, Geng Shuang, another Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on April 30. 
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