Pandemic shows need to boost int’l cooperation

By Ma Miaomiao

Twelve years ago, when an earthquake struck Wenchuan, a county in southwest China, Italy was the first country to send a medical team to support the relief work. This year again, when China fought the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in January, Italy provided urgently needed medical supplies. China reciprocated the support weeks later when Italy grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. A charter flight carrying Chinese medical experts and supplies alighted at the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome on March 12. “We are ready to share China’s hard-won diagnostic and treatment guidelines as well as our first-hand experience,” Lu Ming, a staff with the National Health Commission’s International Cooperation Department and a member of the team, told China National Radio. On March 18, the second team of Chinese medical experts arrived in Milan. They carried a banner quoting ancient Roman philosopher Seneca, “We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, and flowers of the same garden.” A week later, the third team landed in Rome. The Chinese experts, who specialize in respiratory and infectious diseases, intensive care and traditional Chinese medicine, visited hospitals and health labs with suggestions on prevention, control and treatment. “We value the collaboration and information provided by our Chinese counterparts who have accumulated valuable experience in dealing with the outbreak,” Nicola Petrosillo, a researcher with Italy’s National Institute for Infectious Diseases, told China Central Television. Italy is in great need of Chinese experience and medical assistance, he added. Michele Geraci, former Under Secretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, said in an interview with Nanfang Daily, a Chinese newspaper, that people living in Italy appreciate China’s help at this difficult time and the message of solidarity it conveys. The Chinese experts have been sharing their clinical diagnosis and treatment skills with their Iranian counterparts since the end of February. Iran has designated hospitals for COVID-19 cases and adopted centralized treatment, as followed in China, and the team’s other recommendations. Chinese experts have also been sent to Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Laos and the Philippines to help assess the epidemic situation and local medical conditions, and assist in drawing up a roadmap for prevention and control work. The first deployment of Chinese medical professionals in the Latin American and Caribbean region has also been made at the request of the Venezuelan Government. Diversified assistance On March 23, during his phone conversation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the global spread of COVID-19 has shown once again that mankind is one community that shares weal and woe. He stressed that all countries must unite and work together to jointly cope with the pandemic. Deng Boqing, Vice Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, said China’s foreign assistance policy is guided by the ideas of reciprocity—”You throw a peach to me, I give you a white jade for friendship,” and that “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” The international community gave great support during the most difficult period of China’s fight against the disease. China, in turn, has offered technological products, solutions and its experience in fighting the epidemic to the rest of the world, according to XuNanping, Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology, at a press conference on March 26. The three teams that went to Italy, for example, took with them test kits, intensive care unit facilities, portable ultrasound equipment, protective materials and medicines. As the blood plasma of recovered patients contains effective antibodies against the virus, the team also took such plasma with them. Besides, the China Silk Road Fund, a fund designed to finance the Belt and Road Initiative, has also donated masks and test reagents to the Italian Civil Protection Agency and the northwestern region of Lombardy. Chinese experts and officials are holding international video conferences to exchange ideas with foreign health experts. Two platforms have been created to share Chinese research findings, Xu said. One of the platforms, a database, has been accessed by visitors from 152 countries and regions. The Chinese Government has given 120 countries and four international organizations masks, protective suits, test kits, ventilators and other assistance, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on March 31. Local governments have donated medical items to their sister cities in more than 50 countries. The Jack Ma Foundation, the charitable organization of Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, has donated medical supplies to 140 countries and regions. On April 6, it announced a second batch of donation for African countries with poor public health systems and limited capacity. Some countries have requested Chinese assistance in their commercial procurement, and China has recommended qualified exporters to them, Hua said. The Chinese authorities have also tightened regulatory measures to ensure the quality of the exported medical supplies. Exporters of medical products including COVID-19 test kits, medical face masks, protective suits, ventilators and infrared thermometers are required to provide extra documentation when they go through customs clearance since April 1. They should declare that the products have been officially registered in China and meet the quality-control standards of their export destinations, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The customs will release the exports based on certificates of registration approved by medical product administrations. Call for solidarity During a phone call with Xi on March 12, UN Secretary General AntónioGuterres said the world body appreciates China’s assistance to countries facing difficulties, adding that China’s support is vital to multilateralism and the UN looks forward to China playing an important leading role in international affairs. On April 3, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy JosepBorrell on the phone. Borrell said the EU appreciates China’s support and assistance to itself and member states and fully recognizes China’s constructive role in the global response to COVID-19 and its tradition of helping other countries in need. Viruses respect no borders and all countries rise and fall together in times like this. Only by coming together can the international community ultimately defeat COVID-19, Borrell added. Some in the international community have called the pandemic the curse of globalism. In response, Wang Huiyao, President of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, stressed that the pandemic reveals not the failure of globalization, but the need to innovate global governance systems and boost international cooperation. “The coronavirus has caused a global crisis. However, if we believe globalization will go into reverse or countries should decouple to protect themselves, then we are wrong,” he said. Wang Huiyao called for improving and innovating the global governance of migration. “Especially, we should establish an emergency mechanism to regulate transnational movement of people when an outbreak occurs like this time to minimize the impact,” he said.-The Daily Mail-Beijing Review News exchange items