China announces concrete measures to boost global fight against COVID-19 as Xi addresses WHA session

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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly via video link in Beijing, capital of China, May 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday announced concrete measures to boost global fight against COVID-19 including providing international aid and making the country’s COVID-19 vaccine a global public good when available.

Xi made the announcement as he addressed the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) via video link.

COMMON INTERESTS OF MANKIND
“China will provide 2 billion U.S. dollars over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries,” Xi said.

China will work with the United Nations to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China, ensure the operation of anti-epidemic supply chains and foster “green corridors” for fast-track transportation and customs clearance, he said.

Besides, China will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity, said Xi.
“COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good,” said the president.

“This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries,” he added.

Moreover, China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries, Xi said, adding that China 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.
“All the five measures are practical and aim at the key points and difficulties at the current stage and future efforts of global COVID-19 fight,” said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu in an interview after the opening concluded.

“This shows China has taken on its due responsibility to take care of its own people’s health and life as well as contribute to the cause of global public health, ” Ma said.

“China’s willingness to make its vaccine a global public good shows the balanced approach to upholding principles and pursuing interests the country has always advanced, “said Chen Xulong, a senior researcher with the China Institute of International Studies.
China views the issue of vaccine in the principle of win-win cooperation, Chen said, adding that it “takes the common interests of the mankind into consideration rather than only protecting its own people.”

The WHA is the decision-making body of the WHO. The 73rd session of the WHA, scheduled from Monday to Tuesday, is held via video link due to the impact of the current pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the agenda of the 73rd session was condensed only to essential issues, such as COVID-19 and the executive board members selection.

GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF HEALTH FOR ALL
“China stands for the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” said Xi at the opening, adding that China takes it as its responsibility to ensure not just the life and health of its own citizens, but also global public health.

Currently, COVID-19 has hit over 210 countries and regions, affected more than 7 billion people around the world and claimed over 300,000 precious lives.
China has all along acted with openness, transparency and responsibility in the fight against COVID-19, said Xi, adding that the country “has done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.”

Noting that “nothing in the world is more precious than people’s lives,” Xi urged all countries to put the people first and do everything they can for COVID-19 control and treatment.

He expressed China’s staunch support to the WHO, calling on the international community to increase political and financial support for WHO so as to mobilize resources worldwide to defeat the virus.

“At this crucial juncture, to support WHO is to support international cooperation and the battle for saving lives as well,” Xi said.
Xi called on the world to provide more material, technological and personnel support for African countries, saying that “helping them build capacity must be our top priority in COVID-19 response.”

Furthermore, Xi said the international community must strengthen global governance in the area of public health.

“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,” said Xi.
“This work should be based on science and professionalism, led by WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner,” he added.
He also proposed to restore economic and social development and strengthen international cooperation.

Noting that the mankind is facing the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II, Xi said “solidarity and cooperation is a sure way through which we, the people of the world, can defeat this novel coronavirus.”
He called on the international community to work as one and make concerted efforts to protect the life and health of people in all countries, safeguard planet Earth and build a global community of health for all.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and leaders from other countries addressed the opening via video link, expressing their support to the WHO and multilateralism, as well as enhanced joint efforts in the global fight against COVID-19.

“As the mankind is facing the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II, what President Xi proposed and the measures he announced at the WHA session can help boost confidence of global fight against COVID-19,” said Ma, adding that it is also of great significance to the future global political governance.

He said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus inviting Xi to address the WHA session embodies that the international community highly recognize China’s prevention and control efforts as well as its important role in the global fight.

“By promoting the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, China provides a choice for all countries to deal with increasing risks and challenges,” said Gao Fei, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University.
“That is, solidarity, rather than unilateralism, is the most powerful weapon against the pandemic, ” Gao said.