China’s Response to COVID-19 a Pacesetter for Global Solidarity Against Coronavirus

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

A couple of weeks ago, the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation initiated by China was held successfully with a written message from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over the meeting and delivered a speech, giving a summary of China’s experience and practices in bringing together the whole nation against COVID-19 and charting the course of international cooperation on COVID-19 response. It is fair to say that China’s successful handling of the epidemic is a major contribution to the global fight against the coronavirus.

Putting life first, China has provided an exemplar of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the people. How to treat people’s lives amid a pandemic is a severe test of conscience and action for a country and society. From the very beginning, China has put people and their lives front and center, which stands in sharp contrast to the attitude of some countries that put capital and economic gains first. Giving top priority to the health and safety of all people including newborn babies, expectant mothers, elderly persons of no family, and disabled people having problems living on their own, China has used as many fiscal resources as possible to establish “fast tracks” for saving people’s lives and keep them unblocked, doing its utmost to treat every single infected patient.

Ultimately, China made initial progress in containing the virus in just over a month, saw the new daily cases reported on the Chinese Mainland drop to single digits in another month, and effectively brought the virus under control in the third month. With these strategic achievements, China becomes one of the first countries to effectively contain the coronavirus. At present, all regions across the country report almost “zero new cases” every day. Keeping the infection rate and the death rate the lowest across the globe, China protected the health and safety of the people to the greatest extent possible.

Committed to solidarity and cooperation, China has provided an exemplar of building a global community of health for all. China champions the vision of a global community of health for all. It organized the resumption of work and production rapidly once the domestic epidemic was brought under control, and worked hard to provide anti-epidemic medical supplies and COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the world. Up to now China has offered emergency aid to 150 countries and 13 international organizations and exported medical materials necessary for COVID-19 response to over 200 countries and regions. It is also working to give vaccine aid to 102 countries plus four international organizations.

Committed to making vaccines a global public good, China acted quickly to share with the world the whole genome sequencing of the coronavirus, launch overseas phase-III clinical trials of inactivated vaccines, and voiced support for intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. Over 800 million doses of Chinese vaccines in total, the highest in the world, have been exported to more than 60 countries, benefiting hundreds of millions of people around the world. The vaccine doses provided by China for other countries accounted for over 45 percent of those administered on its land, which means for every two doses inoculated by Chinese nationals, China provides one to other countries. As part of its efforts to support Sudan in its fight against COVID-19, China has provided 250,000 doses of vaccines to the country and decided to donate 400,000 more doses.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently pledged that China will strive to provide two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the world throughout this year. That is to say while satisfying the domestic demand for vaccines for epidemic control and vaccination program, China will provide safe and effective vaccines to nearly 10% of the population outside the country. With these concrete actions, China has been doing its part to push for a global community of health for all.

Upholding justice, China has provided an exemplar of promoting equitable vaccine distribution for other developing countries. As its contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries, China acted quickly to provide vaccines to fellow developing countries in need and work with other developing countries on vaccine production. China is committed to promoting fair and equitable vaccine distribution worldwide and is opposed to the immunization gap.

More than 90 percent of the vaccines provided by China go to Asian, African, and Latin American countries, and China is the first to send vaccines to war-stricken regions such as Afghanistan and Syria. China encourages domestic vaccine makers to assign their technologies to fellow developing countries and collaborate with them in vaccine production. Until now, Chinese vaccine companies have launched joint production in eight countries and provided vaccines to the regions of these countries, so that Chinese vaccines are accessible to more countries faster and at a lower cost, to help developing countries with their capacity building.

The UAE, Egypt, Indonesia, and Brazil have become the first country in their respective region to have COVID vaccine production capacity. Together, we have created another success story of developing countries seeking strength through solidarity. Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises are also producing vaccines developed by foreign countries. Sinopharm and Sinovac have reached an agreement with COVAX on providing 110 million doses of vaccines before the end of October.

China’s 100 million U.S. dollars donation to COVAX recently announced by President Xi Jinping will be used for the supply of vaccines in developing countries. Moreover, China has launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation with 29 countries, in a move to make further progress in fair and equitable vaccine distribution worldwide.

Advocating a science-based approach, China has provided an exemplar of facilitating global cooperation on origin-tracing. China attaches great importance to international scientific cooperation on origins tracing and has taken an active part in such cooperation. Acting on the principles of science, openness, and transparency, China has twice invited WHO experts to conduct origins tracing research in China. The WHO released in March this year an official report on COVID-19 origin-tracing joint study with China, with the scientific conclusion that “it is extremely unlikely that a laboratory leak caused the first COVID-19 cases”. It also put forward important suggestions such as “searching for possible early cases worldwide” and “studying the possibility of cold chain transmission of the virus.” This report containing authoritative, professional, and science-based conclusions is a good foundation for international cooperation on origins tracing.

The US accuses China of not being transparent or cooperative on origins tracing. This is sheer nonsense. The US attempts to politicize origins tracing seriously interfere with and undermine global cooperation against the virus, and have found no support and met widespread opposition from the international community. More than 80 countries have written to the WHO Director-General, issued statements, or sent diplomatic notes to voice their support for the results of the first stage of origin-tracing and their objection to the politicization attempts.

In addition, over 100 countries and regions plus more than 300 political parties, social organizations, and think tanks have sent to the secretariat of WHO a joint statement, calling on the WHO to carry out a global study on the origins of COVID-19 objectively and fairly. Over 25 million Chinese netizens have signed an open letter asking for an inquiry into the Fort Detrick base. All this shows the shared aspiration of the international community and stands for international justice.

The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca once remarked that “we are waves of the same sea”. In the face of the novel coronavirus that respects no borders or races, all countries and peoples share a common stake. As the pandemic is still ravaging the world, all must ensure fair vaccine distribution and pull together to beat the virus. China stands ready to work with the global community to firmly advance international cooperation against COVID-19, build a global community of health for all, and work for a healthier and brighter future for humanity.

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