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Xi’s diplomacy bolsters epidemic fight

Phone talks, meetings with foreign leaders boost international confidence.


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Updated: February 26, 2020

China’s active, open and transparent co-operation with the World Health Organization and relevant countries in responding to the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak has demonstrated that it shoulders its responsibility as a major international player in helping the world curb the contagion, experts said.

The outbreak has also given prominence to the value of President Xi Jinping’s vision on building a community with a shared future for mankind as the international community needs to work together to eliminate the threat of the disease in order to uphold global public health security, they said.

Speaking on Sunday during a videoconference on coordinating epidemic control and socioeconomic development, Xi said leaders of more than 170 countries and over 40 international and regional organisations had expressed sympathy with China over the outbreak, and also voiced their support for the nation in its battle against the contagion.

International and regional cooperation should be expanded, and good communication with the WHO and experience-sharing with relevant countries should be continued, Xi said, adding that China will shoulder its responsibilities as a major country and provide necessary assistance to the countries affected by the novel coronavirus.

China has donated novel coronavirus testing kits to Japan, which has reported more than 850 confirmed cases.

Since the start of the outbreak, Xi has used diplomacy to boost international confidence in the fight against the epidemic. In around a month since the start of the outbreak, Xi had 13 telephone conversations with heads of state or government from 12 countries, in which the topics focused on prevention and control of the disease and China’s efforts to reduce the impact of the epidemic on its economy.

Xi also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Feb 5 and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Jan 29 in Beijing.

Yang Yu, a researcher at the China Center for Urban Development and a media commentator, said Xi’s telephone diplomacy and communications with foreign leaders demonstrate that China’s war on the novel coronavirus has been closely connected with the rest of the world since the start of the outbreak. This shows that the world is a community with a shared future, he said.

Speaking to the foreign leaders and the WHO chief, Xi said that China has been communicating with relevant countries and the United Nations body about disease-related information in an open, transparent and responsible manner.

He said that China stands ready to work with the international community to effectively respond to the epidemic and jointly uphold global public health security.

China has carried out the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures to fight the contagion, which greatly contributes to global efforts in epidemic control and also conforms to the country’s value in the pursuit of the common interests of the whole of mankind, Yang said.

The WHO praised China’s efforts to contain the virus and said it has earned valuable time for other countries to prevent and control the epidemic. “We would have seen many more cases outside China by now if it were not for the government’s efforts,” Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Bruce Aylward, head of the foreign expert panel of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, said on Monday at a news conference in Beijing that the measures China has taken offered experience of improving the global response to the disease. With the emergence of clusters of infection in foreign countries, strategies adopted by China can be implemented in other countries, Aylward said.

Xi assured the foreign leaders that China, as a nation that has faced many challenges, has full confidence, capability and determination to win the battle against the outbreak.

China’s robust epidemic response is meant not only to protect the lives and health of the Chinese people, but also to protect foreigners in China, he said.

Shared future stressed

A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Friday presided over by Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, underscored the need for the country to develop international cooperation on epidemic control as part of its efforts to advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

In the face of external challenges, society should form a collective identity and closely work together to deal with them instead of treating each other as rivals or enemies, said Xie Laihui, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ National Institute of International Strategy.

In Xi’s letter dated Jan 20 in reply to Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, who wrote him a letter on the novel coronavirus outbreak, Xi said he has been advocating that mankind is a community with a shared future. Unity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon in prevailing over a disease that threatens all, he said.

International agencies and governments are moving toward greater collaboration and co-operation with China on the virus, Eddie Tapiero, a professor and economist from Panama, wrote in an article published on the China Global Television Network website.

“What this threat reminds us is that we live in an interconnected world where the pain of one is the pain of all, and that we need to continue to open more lines of co-operation and collaboration among countries to be able to resolve not only the problem of the coronavirus, but also other global problems like hunger, climate change and human development,” Tapiero wrote.

In his telephone talks with foreign leaders, Xi also stressed that the impact of the outbreak on China will be short-lived and the general trend of China’s economy to maintain a good momentum for development remains unchanged, as it has a resilient economy, robust domestic demand and a strong industrial base.

China can and will meet this year’s economic and social development goals, in particular the key tasks of securing a decisive victory in establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eliminating absolute poverty in China, Xi said.

During Sunday’s videoconference, Xi urged co-ordinated efforts to resume production based on the local health situation to promote socioeconomic development while preventing and containing the spread of the virus.

He called for active fiscal and financial policies to promote socioeconomic development, and underscored the importance of resuming production in an orderly manner, stabilising employment and guaranteeing people’s livelihoods.

While preventing and controlling the epidemic, China is striving to resume normal economic operations, Yang said, adding that as long as China’s economic engine is in operation, global industrial chains will stabilise, which will in turn boost the confidence of global investors.



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