By Zhou Jian Ambassador of China to Qatar
On May 18, the 73rd World Health Assembly convened online. At a time when Covid-19 poses a serious threat to the globe, the Assembly played an important role in consolidating global consensus to fight the pandemic, reaffirming confidence and promoting international co-operation. I have three major points of views regarding this year’s Assembly:
1. It sends out the strong voice of international community that supports multilateralism.
This is the most prominent signal of the Assembly. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out in his statement that it’s time for the international community to unite and work together, in order to prevent the spread of the virus and overcome its influence. WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “When unity defeats ideology, everything is possible”. The majority of the international community, including Russia, UK, France, Germany and South Africa, unanimously called for co-operation to fight the pandemic.
At the current critical stage, supporting the WHO is to support international anti-epidemic co-operation, to support saving lives, and to support multilateralism. All member-states highly appreciate the contribution of the WHO as well as its crucial role in information and experience sharing, and in advancing co-operation and co-ordination. This also calls on the international community to continue to support the WHO with full political and financial input.
In order to promote global co-operation, China has made a series of proposals, including supporting the WHO to play a leading role, and increase support for African countries.
South Korea and many other countries also announced to increase their donations to the WHO. These measures will further integrate the joint efforts of the international community, and pull the strength worldwide in the combat against Covid-19.
We are pleased to see that Qatar has been actively supporting the work of the WHO, and has participated in international co-operation mechanisms under the framework of WHO, which have made important contributions to global public health.
Currently, the spread of Covid-19 is still ongoing around the world. Countries around the world need to reinforce the consensus, that we need solidarity rather than suspicions, we need co-operation rather than confrontation, and we need to respect science rather than political manipulation. We will continue to work with the international community to strengthen our support for the WHO, and strengthen international co-operation until the final victory.
2. It show China’s responsible and dedicated role as a major power in international health co-operation.
President Xi Jinping’s remarks at the World Health Assembly are the highlight of this meeting. From the perspective of building a global community of health for all, President Xi Jinping elaborated China’s position in fighting the pandemic, and put forward a series of important initiatives and measures, which embodied a high spirit of internationalism and humanity. This plays a crucial role with realistic and far-reaching significance on boosting global confidence, promoting international co-operation, and outlining the future of global governance in public health security.
First, President Xi summed up China’s experience and new thoughts on global prevention and control works. He stressed that we must do everything we can for control and treatment. This is a most urgent task. We must always put people as the top priority, for nothing in the world is more precious than people’s lives. We need to move as fast as we can to curb the global spread of the virus and do our best to stem cross-border transmission. We need to step up information sharing, exchange our experience and best practice, and pursue international co-operation on testing methods, clinical treatment, and vaccine research. We also need to continue supporting global research for the source of the coronavirus and its way of transmission. We also need to restore economic and social development. While working on an ongoing basis to contain the virus, countries where conditions permit may reopen businesses and production in an orderly manner, in line with professional recommendations of the WHO. In the meantime, we need to advance international macroeconomic policy co-ordination, and stabilise global industrial and supply chains, so as to restore growth of the world economy.
Secondly, President Xi proposed that we will do our utmost to resolve the difficulties in the global fight against the pandemic. He pointed out that solidarity and co-operation is our most powerful weapon. The priority is to help developing countries, especially African countries, to build a strong defence line against the virus. So far, China has sent 21 medical expert teams to 19 countries, contributed altogether US$50mn to the WHO in two batch of donations, and provided tremendous amount of medical supplies and assistance to over 130 countries and international organisations around the globe. In his speech, President Xi announced that China will provide $2bn over a two-year period, to assist developing countries in fighting Covid-19 as well as restoring their economic and social development, especially in worst-affected areas.
China will work with the United Nations to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China, to guarantee the operation of supply chains and build up “green channels” for fast-track transportation and customs clearance. China will establish a co-operation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate process to build the Africa CDC headquarters, in order to help the African continent to ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity. The Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. China will also work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries, and is also ready to work with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain of debt service, so that they could tide over the current difficulties.
Thirdly, President Xi drew a blueprint for the future of the global governance system for public health security. He stressed that we must strengthen global governance in the area of public health. We human beings will eventually prevail over the coronavirus. Yet this may not be the last time a major health emergency comes knocking at our door. In view of the weaknesses and deficiencies exposed by Covid-19, we need to improve the governance system for public health security. We need to respond more quickly to public health emergencies and establish global and regional reserve centres of anti-epidemic supplies.
China supports the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to Covid-19 after it is brought under control to sum up experience and address deficiencies. This work should be based on science and professionalism, led by WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner.
President Xi’s proposals have pointed out a way for the international community to strengthen public health co-operation and improve the global governance system for public health security.
Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General of the WHO said that the speech of President Xi is pragmatic, concrete and farsighted, which not only involves how to continue our prevention and control works, but also how to support the affected countries, especially developing countries’ economic and social development, and support WHO’s work. This once again shows that China is committed to the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
In the next stage, we will put into practice the measures proposed by President Xi Jinping, and actively implement the vision of building a community with a shared future, and work with Qatar as well as the rest of international community, to make concerted efforts to protect the life and health of people around the world, and to work together to safeguard our planet, and build a global community of health for all.
3. To open up a broader space for health co-operation between China and Qatar
Faced with the sudden public health disaster caused by Covid-19, China and Qatar have been helping each other and fighting side by side in front of difficulties, which have become a microcosm of international co-operation against the pandemic. Both China and Qatar put people’s life as the top priority, and support the WHO to play a leading and co-ordinating role in the international co-operation. Both sides emphasised early detection, early diagnosis, early isolation, and early treatment, and stepped up prevention and control work in a scientific and orderly manner.
The two countries have also actively carried out international co-operation. In the worst-stricken area, China and Qatar have never been absent. I believe after the pandemic, the friendship between our two peoples will be further deepened, the foundation of China-Qatar relations will be stronger, and the prospects of mutual co-operation will be even brighter. In the next stage, China will further strengthen health co-operation between the two countries, and jointly contribute to the final victory of the international fight against Covid-19.
From Page 22
China will continue to step up information sharing with our Qatari friends without any reservation, and provide our latest experience in prevention and control, as well as diagnosis and treatment. Recently, Dr Zhong Nanshan, member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the top expert of Chinese medical team in combating Covid-19, will be invited to hold a video conference with the Ministry of Public Health, and conduct in-depth exchanges on epidemic diagnosis and treatment with Qatari experts. We hope our Chinese solutions and wisdom will be of help to our Qatari partners.
China will to continue to provide fast channels for Qatar to purchase and import of medical supplies from China, especially the raw materials that could help Qatar to improve production capacity of medical supplies such as masks and other medical supplies.
China joins hands together with Qatar to carry out medical assistance to other developing countries. HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari pointed out at the World Health Assembly, that His Highness the Amir has directed to provide support to countries and people in serious stricken areas, and has helped more than 20 countries to evacuate their citizens. This shows Qatar’s highly responsible role to the international community and its humanitarian spirit. China highly appreciates the contribution made by Qatar. China is willing to strengthen co-operation with Qatar and jointly help African and Arab countries to strengthen public health system and improve their prevention and control capabilities.
China will work alongside with Qatar to continue to support the WHO in playing a core role in the global fight against Covid-19, and provide political and financial support to pull full strength of the international community to win this unprecedented battle.
The pandemic will eventually end, but friendship will last forever. We believe that under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, China and Qatar defeat the virus together, co-operation between our two sides will soon return to fast track, and our joint work will build a community of shared future for health security between China and Qatar.
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