5 questions answered on measures taken by China to assist countries in fight against COVID-19
The Chinese Ambassador to Seychelles, GUO Wei. (Chinese Embassy in Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - 1. Q: The epidemic has taken footholds in many places around the world and is still spreading. China has provided material assistance to several countries and shared Chinese experience on COVID-19 with the world. Can you give us more information on that?
A: The pandemic knows no borders but it brings out the best in humanity. China itself has just tasted the bitterness of COVID-19 and is still recovering. Earlier on, the international community has offered political support and medical supplies to China in the hardest time. While continuing to do a good job in domestic epidemic prevention and control, China is also advancing international cooperation in various forms and is providing assistance to other countries in urgent need within its capacity. We do this to reciprocate these countries earlier support for us, and out of humanitarian considerations.
By the end of March, the Chinese government has provided 120 countries and four international organizations with surgical masks, N95 respirators, protective suits, nucleic acid test kits, ventilators and other assistance. Local governments donated medical items to their sister cities in more than 50 countries. Chinese companies made donations to over 100 countries and international organizations. Many Chinese companies operating overseas have also donated supplies to their local communities with a strong sense of social responsibility. China has also sent medical teams to some countries such as Iran, Iraq, Italy, Serbia, Cambodia, UK, Pakistan, Laos, Venezuela, and the Philippines to help them combat the virus.
Some countries requested via diplomatic channels Chinese assistance in their commercial procurement, and we recommended qualified exporters for them. By 1 April, 30 countries and two international organizations have signed purchase contracts with Chinese exporters on masks, protective suits, nucleic acid test kits, etc. A large number of Chinese manufacturers are working around the clock to help other countries save lives.
Africa is a weak link in international public health security. Most African countries are currently experiencing outbreaks. China and Africa are good friends, good partners and good brothers. The two sides have always supported and helped each other. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, African countries and regional organizations have voiced and provided valuable support to China. China has been in close contact with African countries on COVID-19 and pays close attention to the situation in Africa. At present Africa is facing an overwhelming challenge with strained resources for epidemic response. China relates to its difficulties and is willing to provide humanitarian aid at this crucial moment.
Recently, Emergency assistance provided by the Chinese government is being delivered in batches to Africa. This week the China-aided urgently-needed medical supplies for fighting against COVID-19 to 18 Africa countries arrive at Kotoka International Airport in Ghana, the transit centre for the materials. Not long ago, the Chinese based Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have donated materials to 54 African countries. We appreciate this kind donation which vividly illustrates the friendly sentiments of the Chinese people towards the African people. Going forward, China will continue to increase its support to African countries' efforts against the pandemic. China will also continue to coordinate and encourage Chinese enterprises and private institutions to actively provide support to African countries.
With the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and a responsible attitude towards global public health security and people's well-being, China has been sharing its experience through communication, coordination and cooperation with relevant countries and regional organizations in an open and transparent manner. China has held video conferences with health experts from many countries and international organizations. As of the end of March, China has held about 40 video conferences for experts with more than 100 countries in Northeast Asia, South Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Pacific as well as international organizations including ASEAN, the EU, the AU, the SCO and the Caribbean Community. Besides these conferences, China has also released the seventh version of its diagnosis and treatment protocol and sixth of prevention and control protocol. They are a collection of combat experience gathered over the course of more than two months. They represent the wisdom and hard work of tens of thousands of frontline medical personnel in China. With the protocols translated into many foreign languages, we are sharing them with WHO and the international community.
By doing so, China has lent firm support to the global fight against the pandemic, made contributions to global public health security, fulfilled its role as a responsible major country and put into practice the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
2. Q: Recently some individuals doubt the reason why China provide assistance to other countries. Do you have any comment?
A: What is undeniably clear is that this outbreak, which caught us by surprise, proves once again in a no less than tragic way that all mankind lives in a community with a shared future. No country is immune to the outbreak. Only through unity and cooperation can we overcome the difficulties together.
In the face of the pandemic unprecedented, to help others is to help yourself. The Chinese people will never forget that the international community gave us valuable support and assistance during the most difficult period of China's fight against COVID-19. The Chinese government and people have made arduous efforts and great sacrifices. At present, the situation at home is trending steadily towards a positive direction. While guarding the domestic defence against the pandemic, we are also doing our best to provide assistance to other countries in need. We do this to reciprocate these countries' earlier support for us, and out of humanitarian considerations. What we want to do, what we are going to do and what we have done is to do our very best to help countries and people in need, and work with the international community to save lives and safeguard public health.
After the outbreak, relevant Chinese enterprises returned to work, expanded their production capacity, and worked around the clock to produce medical protection supplies, thus providing solid logistical support for China's fight against the pandemic. Although the situation in China is getting better and more stable, they are still working overtime day and night to help other countries in urgent need of them to fight the pandemic. This is China fulfilling its role as a responsible major country and the Chinese people making kind and selfless contribution to the global response. I believe that such efforts are worthy of respect, not disparagement.
We hope the relevant country can view objectively China's participation in international cooperation and its assistance to other countries amid the pandemic, and contribute in words and actions to the international response.
3. Q: Some officials in a handful of countries including the US have been trying to blame China for the pandemic outbreak, accusing China of covering up the actual caseload of the infected and disseminating disinformation on COVID-19. They also said that they will reckon with China after the pandemic passes. What is your response?
A: At present, COVID-19 is ravaging across the world, especially in Europe and the US. People of all countries have called for unity to fight the pandemic, but still, some people have made jarring noises from time to time, quite discordant with the current atmosphere of unity against the pandemic. I want to stress a few points.
China has been sharing epidemic information with relevant countries and regions, the US included, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, which is universally acclaimed by the international community. Over the past two months or so, the Chinese people have united as one to fight against it. We have bought precious time and made significant contributions to the world.
Recently the journal Science published a paper by researchers in the United States, the UK and China. One of the paper's authors, an Oxford fellow, said that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response by the Chinese government, there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by February 19. The report believes China's control measures worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission and preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people and bought other cities valuable time.
In fact, just 1 April, a senior WHO official refuted unwarranted accusations on "China's untransparent data" in a press conference in Geneva. We sympathize with the US people as they are facing a severe situation, and We can imagine why some in the US are trying so hard to shift the blame. We don't want to get into any meaningless argument with them, but we have to clarify the truth once again.
The timeline of China's response is very clear, as you can gather from media reports. On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at Hubei Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, reported the first three suspected cases. On December 29, related centres for disease control and prevention and hospitals in Hubei and Wuhan carried out epidemiological investigations. On December 30 Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an "urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause". On December 31, the NHC sent an expert group to Wuhan to investigate on site. On January 3, 2020, China started to send timely updates to the WHO and other countries, including the US. On January 8, the pathogen was preliminarily identified. On January 11, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded five whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus on website and shared data with the world and WHO. On January 23, Wuhan was put under lockdown and unprecedented comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures were adopted. By taking these decisive and strong measures, the Chinese government ensured to the highest possible extent the life and health of the Chinese people and bought precious time for stemming the global spread of the virus. China has always been open, transparent and responsible in all its efforts. Recently Dr. Fauci, the medical expert leading the White House effort to contain the coronavirus, reportedly said he refused to let others push him to say that China should warn the US three months beforehand because it just doesn't comport with facts. The Lancet's editor said on BBC that "the message from China is very clear...we wasted February when we could have acted...it is a national scandal".
The virus knows no ideology, border or race. The destinies of all countries are closely intertwined. No one can make up for the lost time by slandering others or shifting the blame. The only way to defeat the virus is through solidarity and cooperation.
We understand the US is facing difficulties and some officials are under pressure and we feel deeply for the hardship of the American people. Out of humanitarian spirit, we would like to provide support and help to them as our ability permits.
At the G20 virtual summit last month, President Xi Jinping put forward propositions on overcoming the difficulties hand in hand. Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China would like to share our experience on COVID-19, conduct international cooperation, and provide as much help as we can to countries in need. That is what we say and what we do. We hope certain individuals will, like the CPC and the Chinese government, put people's life, health and safety first, abandon political bias and arrogance and focus on international cooperation in pandemic response.
4. Q: Do you have any comment on the phrase "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus"?
A: It is true that Wuhan was where COVID-19 cases were first reported. But where and when exactly did this virus originate? On the origin of the virus, the Chinese government's position has been consistent. It is a serious matter that requires scientific, fact-based and professional assessment made by experts.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said "it is shameful to see increasing acts of racial discrimination and prejudice as we fight the COVID19 pandemic" and "we must always fight racism and prejudice". EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said the virus knows no border and we need cooperation and multilateralism, instead of competition and recrimination, in face of the common challenge for mankind. It is not the time for countries to blame one another with terms like "Chinese virus". WHO believes that we should avoid calling it "Chinese virus". Now is the moment for solidarity, for respecting facts and for fighting together.
The virus knows no borders and ethnicity. It can only be defeated by the concerted efforts of all mankind. COVID-19 has taken footholds and is rapidly spreading in many parts of the world.I wish certain people in the US could heed the reasonable voice at home and from the international community and stop making wrongful remarks that stigmatize China.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. China, like other countries affected, is a victim of the virus. All countries must uphold solidarity and cooperation to achieve the final victory and protect the life and health of all people across the globe. We hope for and welcome more such rational, calm and positive voices at this moment, especially from the US side.
5. Q: A couple of countries say the quick coronavirus test kits supplied by China are faulty and have produced inaccurate test results. What's your comment?
A: Many countries have recently been purchasing medical products in China. While satisfying domestic demands, we support export by companies with qualifications and credibility and provide convenience in production, transport and customs clearance to facilitate foreign procurement and orderly exporting. Some countries raised purchasing demands via diplomatic channels, and we recommend qualified companies to foreign buyers. As far as I know, we haven't received any complaints from the buyers about the products purchased via the above-mentioned channel.
Several countries raised doubts on the quality of products imported from China, to which our embassies responded at the earliest time possible.
For example, some Slovak officials questioned the reliability of the quick coronavirus test kits purchased from China. The Chinese embassy in Slovakia immediately contacted the manufacturer in China. They came to the preliminary conclusion that Slovak medical workers used these antigen test kits incorrectly with a preceding method applicable to nucleic acid testing, which led to the inaccurate results. Our embassy in Slovakia then issued a reminder on the correct use of different testing methods. Slovak foreign ministry thanked China for its help at a difficult time, appreciated China's assistance in exporting medical supplies to Slovakia, and expressed readiness to enhance cooperation and experience-sharing with China.
About the masks that the Netherlands claimed not meeting quality standards, immediate contact and verification have been done by the Chinese embassy. According to the preliminary investigation conducted by the competent authority on the Chinese side, the batch of masks in question was purchased by a Dutch procurement agent. The Chinese manufacturer informed the Dutch side before shipping out these products that they are non-surgical masks. Their export customs clearing procedures were also under the name of "non-surgical masks". The Dutch side thanked China for our support and help in its purchase and transport of Chinese medical supplies.
China attaches high importance to export quality control. Relevant departments have just rolled out more rigorous regulative measures. Export companies of medical supplies need to state in written or digital format upon customs clearance that their products have valid registration certificate for medical devices and products and meet the quality standards of their destinations. If problems occur in this process, the Chinese side will talk to relevant departments. Problems should be properly solved based on facts, not political interpretations. It is irresponsible for the few media to hype up the so-called quality issue of Chinese products before getting their facts straight. I do hope they are not driven by ulterior motives because apparently such hype-up does not help international cooperation in fighting the pandemic. In fact, when we first began fighting COVID-19 at home, some of the assistance China received was defective, but we chose to believe and respect the kind intentions of these countries.