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Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu Gives an Interview on President Xi Jinping's Statement at the Virtual Event of Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly

2020/05/19

On the evening of May 18, 2020, President Xi Jinping addressed the virtual event of opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly. Following the opening ceremony, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu gave an interview to People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China Media Group and China Daily, briefing on relevant information.

Ma Zhaoxu said, the World Health Assembly was held at such a critical moment and in an extraordinary context. Currently, the world still faces a complex and severe situation caused by the COVID-19 as the pandemic is rampant and spreading around the globe. It is the focus of the international community to discuss how to deal with the most serious global public health emergency since the end of the Second World War. At such a crucial moment in history, President Xi Jinping was invited to address the virtual event of opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, during which President Xi Jinping, from the building of a global community of health for all, elaborated on China’s propositions in fighting the epidemic and put forward a series of important initiatives. It is of great practical and far-reaching significance to boost global confidence in the fight against the pandemic, promote international cooperation in fighting disease, and plan for the future global governance system.

First is to share control and treatment experience. President Xi Jinping stressed, we must do everything we can for COVID-19 control and treatment. This is a most urgent task. We must always put the people first, for nothing in the world is more precious than people's lives. We need to move as fast as we can to curb the global spread of the virus and do our best to stem cross-border transmission. We need to step up information sharing, exchange experience and best practice, and pursue international cooperation on testing methods, clinical treatment, and vaccine and medicine research and development. We also need to continue supporting global research by scientists on the source and transmission routes of the virus. While working on an ongoing basis to contain the virus, countries where conditions permit may reopen businesses and schools in an orderly fashion in observance of WHO’s professional recommendations. In the meantime, international macroeconomic policy coordination should be stepped up and the global industrial and supply chains be kept stable and unclogged if we are to restore growth to the world economy. These suggestions are not only a summary of China’s successful experience, but also in line with the current situation of countries in the fight against the epidemic. They provide new ideas for countries to coordinate epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development.

Second is to form international synergy. President Xi Jinping stressed, solidarity and cooperation is our most powerful weapon for defeating the virus. Helping developing countries, African countries in particular, build capacity must be our top priority in COVID-19 response. The world needs to provide more material, technological and personnel support for African countries. The World Health Organization should lead the global response. To support WHO is to support international cooperation and the battle for saving lives as well. China calls on the international community to increase political and financial support for WHO. Such gestures showcase the great importance China attaches to African countries and China’s firm support for the United Nations and WHO. It will help pool the concerted efforts of the international community and mobilize resources worldwide to defeat the virus.

Third is to show China’s responsibility. President Xi Jinping announced the five major measures to further support the global cooperation in epidemic control. President Xi Jinping noted, China will provide US$2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries; China will work with the UN 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; 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; COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries; and China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries. 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. These concrete measures will address the current and future priorities and difficulties in the global fight against the pandemic. They demonstrate China’s commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind. China is not only responsible for the safety and health of its people, but also a major country committed to the global public health cause.

Fourth is to chart the course for cooperation. COVID-19 is ravaging all around the world and has a far-reaching influence. It has given the world many valuable inspirations. President Xi Jinping stressed, we human beings will eventually prevail over the coronavirus. Yet this may not be the last time a major health emergency comes knocking at our door. In view of the weaknesses and deficiencies exposed by COVID-19, we need to improve the governance system for public health security. We need to respond more quickly to public health emergencies and establish global and regional reserve centers of anti-epidemic supplies. 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. This work should be based on science and professionalism, led by WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner. These proposals are from a strategic and long-term perspective and chart the course for the international community to strengthen public health cooperation and improve the global health governance system.

Ma Zhaoxu noted, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus invited President Xi Jinping to address the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, which shows the international community's high recognition of China’s achievements in epidemic prevention and control and China’s important role in international cooperation against the epidemic. President Xi Jinping’s statement was echoed and highly praised by all the participants. Guided by the spirit of President Xi Jinping’s important speech, we will propel up the international community to stay united and work together to defeat the epidemic and build a global community of health for all.

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