China’s Diplomacy to Help Fight COVID-19: A Prime Example of Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
By Liu Jinsong
Fighting COVID-19 is a major battle that concerns the health and well-being of all human beings. Facing the sudden and unprecedented threat of an unknown virus, China is working with the world to tide over difficulties. China has taken as its responsibility to ensure not just the life and health of its own citizens, but also global public health, and to work with other countries to build a global community of health for all. These efforts have been widely applauded by the international community.
President Xi Jinping pointed out that mankind is a community with a shared future. To prevail over a disease that threatens all, unity and cooperation are the most effective weapon. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has taken decisive steps to effectively prevent and control the epidemic and actively engage in international cooperation against the outbreak. They are a fine example of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
During the battle against COVID-19, we have followed the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. We have performed well in domestic response and given strong support to the global response. All this demonstrates China’s strength, character and efficiency and its role as a responsible major country.
1. Strengthening the domestic defense and contributing to the global fight. After the outbreak, the CPC Central Committee has made control and treatment its top priority. President Xi Jinping personally oversaw and directed the response. By putting the people’s well-being front and center and acting responsibly in the interest of the world, President Xi rallied the whole nation in an all-out people’s war to stop the spread of the virus. Thanks to appropriate intervention, we have basically curbed the spread of the virus in just over a month’s time, brought the daily number of new local cases to single digit within two months, and secured a decisive win in the battle of safeguarding Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan in three months. These are strategic milestones in China’s COVID-19 treatment and control. Fighting off the virus with strength, ingenuity and sacrifice, China served as a crucial line of defense, bought precious time for the world, boosted global confidence in an ultimate victory, and contributed greatly to the global fight against the virus.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres hailed China’s efforts to contain the epidemic. He expressed confidence that, with resolve and resilience, China would not only defeat the epidemic soon, but also achieve a quick economic recovery. This would be in the interest of the Chinese people and a strong contribution to the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin commended the Chinese government for taking effective measures to not only contain the spread of the virus at home but also help protect the health and safety of people across the world.
2. Instilling confidence, forging consensus, and lending support for the global fight. Since the outbreak, Chinese leaders have maintained communication with world leaders and heads of international organizations by attending international conferences, holding talks and meetings, having phone conversations and exchanging letters and telegrams. The diplomatic service, including diplomatic envoys and institutions abroad, has advanced international cooperation in the fight against the virus by conveying China’s determination to join hands with the world, shoring up confidence and forging consensus. To date, President Xi Jinping has spoken or met with more than 60 foreign leaders and heads of international organizations and sent messages of solidarity to more than 10 heads of state and regional organizations such as the European Union. Premier Li Keqiang has held phone conversations with many leaders. State Councilor Wang Yi has had more than 100 phone calls with other foreign ministers.
First, championing international cooperation. When attending the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19, President Xi Jinping proposed to fight an all-out and resolute global war against COVID-19, make a collective response for control and treatment at the international level, support international organizations in playing their parts, and enhance international macroeconomic policy coordination. President Xi Jinping delivered an important statement at the Virtual Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly and made six proposals, namely doing everything we can for COVID-19 control and treatment, enabling the World Health Organization (WHO) to lead the global response, providing greater support for Africa, strengthening global governance in the area of public health, restoring economic and social development, and strengthening international cooperation. He also announced five measures to be taken by China for boosting international cooperation against COVID-19: providing US$2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries; working with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China; establishing a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters; once COVID-19 vaccine is developed and deployed in China, making it a global public good to contribute to vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries; working with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries; and working with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain of debt service. These proposals and measures help to shore up international confidence, promote global solidarity, chart the way forward and demonstrate China’s sense of responsibility. They have been commended by the international community.
Second, upholding multilateralism. President Xi Jinping emphasized that given the challenges brought by COVID-19, we should uphold multilateralism and international justice. China is committed to championing multilateralism, promoting international anti-epidemic cooperation, improving global governance on public health, and supporting WHO in playing a lead role. China proposed that a high-level meeting on international public health security be convened in due course.
Third, promoting regional cooperation. China actively participates in the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19, the Video Conference of SCO Foreign Ministers, the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease, the fifth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the China-Japan-ROK Special Foreign Ministers’ Video Conference,and the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation . We put in place joint response mechanisms with the ROK and some other neighboring countries. We proposed to establish a China-ASEAN liaison mechanism to enhance public health emergency preparedness and China-ASEAN reserve centers for epidemic-control provisions to create synergy at the regional level.
Fourth, supporting solidarity and coordination. At a time when a collective global response is most needed, some forces around the world spare no effort to shift blames and spread a “political virus”, disrupting international cooperation and global governance in the area of public health. President Xi Jinping has stated on many occasions that the virus is a common enemy of humanity and can only be defeated with international solidarity and coordination. Through various channels, China issued calls for solidarity and cooperation and stressed that the global response should not be distracted by finger-pointing or the blame game. China’s commitment to international anti-epidemic cooperation is guided by humanitarianism; China has no ideological calculations. We have done everything in the open. Nothing we do is out of geopolitical calculation, or in pursuit of economic gains, or with any political strings attached. China’s sincerity is recognized by more and more countries. Its call for rejecting any attempt at name-calling, politicization, and stigmatization is becoming established as international consensus.
3. Promoting international cooperation and doing the utmost for the global fight against the virus. Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and acting in an open, transparent and responsible manner, China has attached great importance to and actively engaged in relevant international cooperation. President Xi Jinping has made multiple instructions on staying in close communication with WHO and strengthening cooperation with other countries to contribute to the global COVID-19 response and uphold regional and global public health security.
China has done its best to provide a large amount of assistance to countries in need. Under the personal direction of President Xi Jinping, we have launched the largest global humanitarian operation in the history of the People’s Republic. To date, we have shipped surgical masks, protective suits, testing kits and other supplies to nearly 150 countries and four international organizations to meet their immediate needs. We have sent 29 medical expert teams to 27 countries, and made two donations totaling US$50 million to WHO. All this demonstrates a humanitarianism of looking out for each other in trying times and helping those in need as well as China’s sense of responsibility.
China is working closely with other countries to defeat COVID-19. We have provided timely updates to WHO and relevant countries, released the genome sequencing of the virus at the earliest opportunity, and strengthened international cooperation on vaccine research and development. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the Extraordinary Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs on jointly combating the virus and deepening BRICS cooperation, rendering firm support to African countries and other developing countries in their fight against the virus. We leveraged our production capacity to the full, and reopened the medical supplies market and export channels in a timely fashion. Between 1 March and 31 May, China exported protective materials to 200 countries and regions, among which there were more than 70.6 billion masks, 340 million protective suits, 115 million pairs of goggles, 96,700 ventilators, 225 million test kits, and 40.29 million infrared thermometers. “Made in China” products are providing a steady contribution to the global efforts to fight the virus.
China has shared COVID-19 response experience with the world without reservation. China has set up an online COVID-19 knowledge center that is open to all countries. We have published seven editions of diagnostic and therapeutic protocols and six editions of containment protocols, all of which have been translated into multiple languages. China has held more than 170 video conferences, during which Chinese health experts shared their front-line experiences with foreign counterparts. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that China’s experience is worth learning. African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat noted China’s professionalism in dealing with COVID-19 and encouraged African countries to draw on China’s valuable experience.
4. Striking a proper balance between epidemic control and economic and social development, and injecting a strong impetus to global economic stabilization. The CPC Central Committee has adopted a range of major policies on advancing economic and social development while keeping COVID-19 under control. China’s main targets for development in 2020 and the overall plan for the next stage of work have been set during the “Two Sessions” (i.e. the annual session of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference). Facing the “new normal” of epidemic control, we adhere to the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, leverage macro policies to offset the impact of the epidemic, actively expand domestic demand and lose no time in advancing reform. We are determined to make continuing progress in the three critical battles against potential risks, poverty and pollution, step up efforts to ensure stability on six fronts (i.e. employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations) and maintain security in six areas (i.e. job security, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments). We will ensure economic development and social stability, establish a moderately prosperous society in all respects and accomplish the targets and tasks for winning the battle against absolute poverty.
The economic reopening of China, “the world’s factory”, has significantly eased the strain on global medical supplies and will help bring the world economy back on track at an early date. China has shown to the world that the economic fundamentals underpinning its long-term growth remain unchanged, the direction of its high-quality development remains unchanged, and its responsibility as a key anchor and driver of the world economy also remains unchanged. Thus, China has instilled confidence in the world economy despite the headwinds. Some forces are disseminating pessimistic views on China’s economy and advocating “reshoring” and “decoupling”. In response, China has made great efforts to encourage full implementation of the consensus reached at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit, encourage the G20 and the international community to contribute to crisis response and global economic governance, better coordinate macro policies, keep the world economy open, ensure stability in global trade and production capacity, and keep global industrial and supply chains stable and smooth so as to improve the outlook of the world economy.
The virus knows no borders and COVID-19 makes no distinction between nationality. The response to this global public health crisis has highlighted the urgency and importance of building a community with a shared future for mankind. The disease, as many world leaders have pointed out, has made it abundantly clear to the whole world that the lives of all people are intertwined. It shows the relevance of China’s vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, an idea that is winning more support as global cooperation against COVID-19 deepens. It brings governments and peoples together to preserve our common home. A living example of the vision is China’s active assistance to other countries.
The vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind is key to Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and a central mission of Chinese diplomacy in a new era. In the global fight against COVID-19, the vision’s worthy features have fully manifested themselves:
A people-centered commitment. In a time of frequent humanitarian crises, building a community with a shared future for mankind calls for delivering care and hope to people in dire situations, and protecting women, children, the elderly, the physically challenged and other vulnerable groups with humanity, charity and dedication. With the severe threat of COVID-19 to people’s life, safety and health, effective control and treatment remains the top priority. We must stay committed to putting the life of the people front and center, uphold humanitarianism and take effective measures to stem the global spread of COVID-19 as fast as we can. In so doing, we can jointly protect the health and safety of people the world over, preserve planet earth, our shared home, and build a global community of health for all.
A pursuit of peace and justice. Peace defines China’s diplomacy; justice is a common aspiration of humanity. The pursuit of peace and justice is the prerequisite and essential feature of building a community with a shared future for mankind. COVID-19 poses a pressing and grave threat to global public health, and world peace and development. The life and livelihood of people in war-torn countries and regions are made even worse. Nevertheless, the obsolete mindset and dishonorable moves of some countries, which reflect unilateralism, hegemonism, Cold War, zero-sum mentality, have impeded efforts to tackle the virus and contributed to the virus’s global spread. Facts have proven time and again that humanity are living in a community with their future closely connected. To defeat the pandemic, we must uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, stay committed to dialogue and consultation, pursue peace and cooperation, and promote fairness and justice. We must advance global governance on public health and security. We must focus on saving lives rather than engage in geopolitical competition. We must push for global solidarity and cooperation rather than create conflict and confrontation. We must never let ideology stand in the way of global cooperation against COVID-19.
Mutual support and assistance. No country in the world can enjoy absolute security. No country should maintain its security at the expense of others. A threat to another country may turn out to be a challenge to oneself. Faced with a challenge to all humanity, political manipulation will give the virus loopholes to exploit, a beggar-thy-neighbor approach will leave us more vulnerable, and putting one country above others will allow the virus to wreak more havoc. With the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, all countries should stand side by side in solidarity and render strong support to each other. In a joint response to the risks and challenges and through active cooperation, the international community should forge extraordinary synergy in the fight against COVID-19.
A multi-pronged and coordinated approach. A community with a shared future for mankind is a multi-dimensional concept that covers politics, security, development, civilization, ecology, etc. Having taken a toll on the world economy, global governance, social development as well as public health, COVID-19 has created multiple crises in all the areas above. Such a complex crisis requires a multi-pronged response. Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, we need to conduct international cooperation against the virus at bilateral, regional and global levels. We need to take targeted measures in health care, economic growth, people’s livelihoods and national governance. We need to seek parallel progress in epidemic control and economic and social development, in domestic response and global public health governance, and in responding to the immediate public health challenge and contributing to the lasting security of humanity. All countries have responsibilities for building a better future.
An unwavering belief in science. The vision of a community with a shared future for mankind prioritizes concrete practice, follows scientific thinking and embodies dialectical materialism and historical materialism. The unexpected and ferocious virus will exploit loopholes if science is ignored. Determining the origin of the virus is a serious and complicated scientific matter to be studied by scientists and medical experts. Guided by the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, we must base our conclusion on facts. We must not allow politics to trump science and reason. We must not let the politicization of COVID-19 distract from science-based prevention, control, treatment and research. We must not allow self-serving moves like scapegoating and smearing without regard for facts to undermine global cooperation against COVID-19. History should be written with facts, not tainted by lies. The global narrative about COVID-19 should reflect reason and conscience. Humanity has an obligation to leave behind an objective and truthful account as part of its collective memory.
COVID-19 has made a massive impact, including deep recession of the world economy, sharp decline of global trade and investment, fluctuations in international financial markets, restricted international exchanges, headwinds against economic globalization, rising protectionism and unilateralism by some countries, and increasing geopolitical risks. However, the virus cannot defeat humanity; we will eventually prevail. The darkest hour will pass. Looking ahead, we can see light and hope. In a world with more uncertainty and instability, China will continue to work with the rest of the world and stay on the right side of history. We will turn crisis into opportunity, seek a new opening amidst change, and win the global fight against COVID-19. With concrete actions, we are contributing to a community with a shared future for mankind.
1. We will push international cooperation in the right direction to win the global fight against COVID-19. China will continue to drive forward relevant international cooperation, explore collective and coordinated response mechanisms with other countries, step up information-sharing and cooperation on medicine and vaccine development with a view to stemming the cross-border transmission of COVID-19. We will stay in close communication and discussion with neighboring countries about establishing regional emergency liaison mechanisms for public health. While making all-out efforts to control the virus, we, as a responsible major country and with a humanitarian spirit, will keep assisting countries in need to the best of our ability. We will continue to build broad-based consensus worldwide in the fight against COVID-19 and stand with the overwhelming majority of countries to oppose drawing lines along ideology, forestall the spread of the “political virus”, and respond resolutely to wrongful acts and groundless remarks that politicize the virus, link the virus with a geographic area or stigmatize China. In so doing, we are making efforts to form the strongest possible synergy in combating COVID-19.
2. We will hold high the banner of multilateralism and strengthen global governance in public health. A review of history reveals that the progress of humanity involves the development of global public health and security following the struggles with diseases and victories over disasters. COVID-19 has fully exposed the deficiencies and inadequacies in global public health governance and accentuated the urgency to strengthen the governance system. 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. We support the core role of the UN and WHO in responding to public health emergencies and improving the global public health governance system. We support the proposal to reform and improve global mechanisms for public health cooperation, respond more quickly to public health emergencies, and establish global and regional reserve centers of anti-epidemic supplies. China will stay in close contact with other G20 countries to step up cooperation on COVID-19 treatment and assistance, and hold high-level meetings on global public health and security in due course. China will work to move public health issues up the international agenda and advance major international health programs. We will proactively strengthen public health cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative to build a “silk road of health” together. We support the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, financial cooperation mechanisms among BRICS countries and financial cooperation along the Belt and Road in helping to finance international efforts to fight the virus.
3. China puts forward its vision and solution to promote longstanding well-being of humanity. China will continue to uphold a new development philosophy featuring high-quality development that is innovative, coordinated, green and open for the benefit of all, promote economic growth, social development and environmental protection in a coordinated manner, and build a community with a shared future for man and nature. China will advance democracy in international relations, comprehensively implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We will steadfastly make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all and promote an open world economy. China will act on the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security to address both traditional and non-traditional security threats, strengthen dialogue and communication with all parties in addressing major contagious diseases and other non-traditional security threats. We will promote international cooperation in non-traditional security threats to safeguard world peace and security.
The threat of public health security is a common challenge for all countries; major contagious diseases are the common enemy of humanity. All countries should work as one, move beyond discrimination and hatred and drive away the dark clouds of COVID-19 with the sunshine of cooperation. China will work with all countries and peoples to combat the virus, and strengthen international coordination and cooperation so as to preserve our common home and strive toward building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Liu Jinsong is Director General of the Department of Policy Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.