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Solidarity Means Strength: the Anti-Pandemic Experience of China
H.E. Zhang Yiming, Chinese Ambassador to Namibia

At the beginning of 2020, an outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic never seen before raged around the world, posing a severe threat to the safety and health of all human beings. As one of the first stricken countries, through months’ painstaking efforts and tremendous sacrifice, China has achieved an initial victory in containing the spread of the virus. On 7 June, Chinese government released a white paper named Fighting Covid-19 China in Action, introducing the experience of its fighting against the disease and clarifying its ideas on the global battle. Herewith I would like to share it with Namibian friends.

People’s safety always come first and saving lives is the top priority. Chinese government has always put people’s lives and health as the first task. When the novel coronavirus struck, China decided that it would protect the lives and health of its people even at the cost of a severe economic downturn. The government took unprecedented lockdown measures to the epicenter Wuhan, capital city of Hubei province which has 11 million population. Meanwhile, rigorous measures were taken to prevent population flows, namely extending the Chinese New Year vacation, calling off the public gathering, and postponing the opening of businesses and schools.

From the outset, China’s goal in its medical response to COVID-19 has been to improve cure rate and reduce fatality rate. It saved the lives of severe cases at all costs and applied early intervention for patients with mild symptoms. From an infant only 30 hours old to a centenarian, the government has taken measures to ensure that every kind of vulnerable patients were hospitalized, treated, tested or quarantined as appropriate, and never missed a single infected one nor gave up even one patient. To date, in Hubei, more than 3,000 patients over the age of 80, including 7 centenarians, have been cured. Furthermore, in order that every needed person could receive timely treatment, the government quickly adjusted its policies for medical insurance and put a cushion in place for everyone infected.

The Chinese government mobilized the whole country and galvanized the people into a nationwide response. Since the outbreak, President Xi Jinping assumed full command over the control efforts from the very beginning and put in place a prevention and control system with the central authorities exercising overall command and the whole of society involved. Through rolling out the unprecedented and extensive scale public emergency response measures, China launched a people’s war on the virus. The Chinese New Year holiday arrived amid the epidemic. Following the government orders to contain the virus, the general public shouldered their responsibilities, canceled visits, stayed at home, wore masks and executed social distancing. They made self-discipline and great sacrifices to win the battle against the epidemic.

When a disaster strikes at one location, help comes from quarters. More than 40,000 medical workers came to the immediate aid of Hubei and the city of Wuhan. Around 40,000 construction workers with several thousand sets of machinery equipment completed the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital in just 10 days, and built 16 temporary treatment centers famously known as Fangcang shelter hospitals in only 2 weeks, which showcased the world a remarkable China Speed. The 1.4 billion Chinese people have plunged themselves into the battle against the epidemic, united as one, representing a formidable force. Actually, they were the most critical factor for China’s victory on the anti-epidemic fight.

Adopting scientific approach and releasing information in an open and transparent manner. Facing the unknown virus, China stuck to the scientific approach and gathered the top scientific research resources around the nation to pinpoint key R&D areas. It also adopted a multi-level, category-specific, dynamic and targeted control manner and new technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence in epidemic control. China has successively formulated and amended 7 versions of diagnosis and treatment protocol and shared them with other countries immediately. Upholding the principle of open and transparency, China provided the world community with information on COVID-19 in a thoroughly professional and efficient way on a regular basis, thus effectively disseminating knowledge about the disease and responding to public concern. China also has strengthened supervision over the quality and pricing of epidemic-control supplies and made every effort to ensure market order and social stability. It has adopted timely policies to ensure the basic livelihood of people in difficulties caused by COVID-19. As soon as the virus was generally curbed in early March, the Chinese government adopted a host of policies encouraging orderly resumption of economic activities. In the meantime, Chinese enterprises overcame difficulties to produce most-needed medical materials for the international community in their full capacity, which help maintain the world industrial and supply chains as well as smooth the channels for supply of goods, making an important contribution to the global anti-epidemic efforts and the stability of world economy.

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 shows that all countries are living in a Global Village in this age of globalization, sharing weals and woes together. Based on its own experience, and in a bid to protect the safety and well-fares of all humans, China would like to put forward three proposals for the global fight against the pandemic.

Firstly, advocating international solidarity and cooperation. The coronavirus, as the common enemy to us all, respects no nationality or race. We must understand it has nothing to do with ideology and to stamp it out relies on science and joint efforts of the whole international community. In light of this, China provided twice cash support totaling US$50 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), sent 29 medical expert teams to 27 countries, and offered assistance to more than 150 countries, regions and international organizations to its best ability. It is doing so out of the kindness of its people, the empathy they have with people of other countries suffering from the pandemic, and its sense of responsibility as a major country. It is anything but what certain western politicians smeared as exporting model nor pursuing selfish geopolitical interests.

Second, upholding science and rationality. Science and technology are the bazooka that the human beings can count on in the battle against disease. Such battle could not be without scientific advances and technological innovation. Confronted by COVID-19, a new and previously unknown virus, it is especially important to uphold the spirit of science and rationality. On one hand, under the guidance of WHO, all countries are supposed to take scientific, appropriate, and well-coordinated prevention and control actions, facilitate information exchanges and experience sharing, and launch international cooperation on test techniques, clinical treatment, new medicines and vaccines and so on. On the other hand, every member state should firmly stand against stigmatization and politicization of the virus, abandon prejudice and arrogance, and instead focus on defeating the virus and saving lives, so as to safeguard its people’s safety and health.

Thirdly, jointly building a Global Community of Health for All. When addressing the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, President Xi Jinping announced 5 major measures that China would take in supporting the global fight, including US$2 billion of international aid over two years, and the Covid-19 vaccine to be used as a global public product once it is developed and deployed in China. President Xi also called for a joint effort on the part of all countries to overcome the virus and build a global community of health for all. Human history is the one of grappling with diseases and disasters. The pandemic exposes weaknesses and deficiencies existing in the global governance system for public health security. Every country is obliged to draw lessons from this pandemic, reflect carefully, build an efficient and sustainable global public health system for the benefit of all humanity, fortify defenses for the lives and health of all, and participate in building a global community of health for all. This is in the interest of future generations and the wellbeing of all humanity.

At present, the coronavirus is still on the rampage and causing devastation around the world. China will continue to embrace the idea of a global community of shared future, stand together with other countries in the spirit of solidarity, cooperation, science, rationality, responsibility and transparency, to win the fight in a bid to safeguard global public health, secure the wellbeing of humanity, and defend morality and conscience of the international community. We firmly believe that solidarity means strength, and the world surely will win this battle at last.

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