Deepening International Cooperation on Fighting COVID-19 and Promoting the Building of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

By Wang Xiaotao

Since COVID-19 struck the world, President Xi Jinping has observed on multiple occasions that infectious diseases respect no borders or races and are the common enemy of all. Only by working as one can humanity get through this difficult time; only with concerted efforts can we defeat the virus. Effective international cooperation is a top priority in this battle withthe coronavirus. China has actively engaged in international cooperation on fighting COVID-19 and assisted and supported other countries and international organizations to the best of its ability. This is what China’s principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests is essentially about. It is the bounden duty of a country that has received help in its own tough times. It is also a mission that a responsible major country should commit to.

I. Extending a helping hand to those in need, China is pursuing its vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Xi Jinping has stated at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19and other important multilateral occasions that guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will be more than ready to provide assistance where it can to other countries and contribute to a stable world economy.The Chinese government has matched its words with actions. Faced with the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, China lost no time inlaunching emergency humanitarian assistance to other countries even with the epidemic weighing on itself. Under close coordination between the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and other government departments including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Health Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport, the General Administration of Customs and the Civil Aviation Administration as well as relevant enterprises, the most intensive and extensive emergency humanitarian operation in the history of the People’s Republic of China was mounted. With these concrete actions, China has demonstrated its keen aspirationfor a community with a shared future for mankind.

China has provided badly-needed medical supplies to hard-hit countries with insufficient response capacity and to international and regional organizations including the European Union, the African Union (AU) and ASEAN. By October 2020, China had sent to 150 countries and seven international organizations shipments of test kits, masks, gloves, ventilators, protective suits, goggles, shoe covers and infrared thermometers.

By dispatching teams of medical experts, China has exchanged best practices with medical and health institutions and experts in other countries and shared China’s experience and approach on fighting COVID-19. To date, China has sent 35 medical teams to 33 countries including Iran, Italy, Serbia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Peru. Inspired by the belief that love knows no borders, the experts have defied the ferocious disease and worked fearlessly on the front line of this battle. They have provided guidance and counsel on disease control, clinical diagnostics and treatment, and community management, playing an active role in the epidemic control efforts of the local communities.

China has actively supported the World Health Organization (WHO) and other important multilateral development institutions in combating COVID-19. In March and April 2020, responding to the funding appeal of the UN and the WHO, China provided two tranches of cash assistance totaling US$50 million to the WHO for strengthening the epidemic response capabilities and public health systems of relevant countries. It has also taken an active part in the WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 control tools. To support the UN in playing a central role in international affairs, China has announced a US$50million donation to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan. In addition, China has proposed a G20 COVID-19 assistance initiative for better information sharing and policy and action coordination with the support of the WHO.

Guided by the philosophy that “all under heaven are one family”, China has continuously injected momentum into the global COVID-19 response. China has demonstrated an image of a major country that stands by its words, cherishes friendship, upholds justice and pursues the greater good, and a responsible country that pursues a peaceful world for all and a community with a shared future for mankind.

II.Reciprocating kindness and showing solidarity, China is providing touching examples of what a world with a shared future looks like.

The epidemic knows no borders, but it has brought out the best in humanity. We will never forget the invaluable support pouring in from many friendly countries at the most trying moment of China’s battle against COVID-19. This is something the Chinese people will always feel grateful for. As a line from an ancient Chinese poem goes, “You throw me a peach, and I give you a white jade for friendship.” China’s anti-COVID-19 assistance has reflected fully the Chinese nation’s largeness of spirit—pursuing the greater good for all—and its readiness to lend a helping hand to whomever in need. Stories of China and its longstanding friends pulling together in solidarity have been widely told on international media and by net users both home and abroad.

China and Pakistan have long been true friends and good brothers sharing weal and woe. The special friendship between the two countries is the choice of history and deeply embedded in the hearts of the two peoples. When China was going all out fighting the coronavirus, Pakistan rendered China firm support. Sending all the protective supplies in its stock to China, Pakistan did everything in its power to help. In the words of Pakistani President Arif Alvi, “We didn’t worry about what will happen in the future... Because our friends were suffering, we sent everything to China.” What Pakistan did touched the hearts of countless Chinese and became a much-told tale of the true friendship between two countries sharing an iron-clad brotherhood.In the same spirit, when Pakistan was confronted by COVID-19, China stood together with Pakistan in the face of this common challenge, sharing experience with Pakistan and sending badly-needed supplies. So far, China has provided five batches of medical supplies including test kits, protective suits, N95 masks and surgical masks. In addition, China has supported Pakistan in building an isolation hospital. President Alvi paid a special visit to China to express his appreciation for China’s contribution to the world and reaffirm the brotherly bond that Pakistan shares with China.

At the height of China’s fight against COVID-19 earlier this year, the government and people of Italy sent us much-needed supplies. It brought back memories of how, immediately after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Italy sent a medical team to the heavily-stricken areas in China’s Sichuan Province, the first foreign country to do so. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The government and people of China have not forgotten the genuine friendship from the government and people of Italy. In view of the growing infections and shortages of medical supplies in Italy, China sent multiple batches of medical supplies to Italy by charter flights and other means. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called President Xi Jinping for the very purpose of expressing his heartfelt thanks. The close affinity forged in this joint fight against the pandemic is best captured by the words on a banner unfurled by the second Chinese medical team to Italy upon their arrival in Milan: We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden.

China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future. Governments and various social sectors in Africa have rooted and prayed for China as it battled the pandemic. They have made donations in cash and in kind despite having modest means. For example, Equatorial Guinea, a country with just over one million people, has given China US$2 million in cash. The list goes on and on, testifying to the deep friendship between the Chinese and African people.Closely following the infections in Africa, China has sent shipments of supplies to the AU and more than 50 African countries. The AU stated that these supplies will greatly enhance Africa’s epidemic response capacity. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed appreciation to the government and businesses of China for their great support to African countries’ COVID-19 response. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa described China’s assistance as “a true act of friendship”. Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community Stergomena Tax pointed out that China has set an example for global cooperation against the pandemic, and that its dedication to global public health has demonstrated the sense of responsibility of a major country.

III.Putting the well-being and livelihoods of people first, China is opening up new prospects in its international development cooperation.

The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of China’s foreign assistance. Over the past seven decades, acting in the spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism, China has committed itself to the great cause of eliminating poverty, bettering people’s lives, and achieving development in developing countries. China has taken active steps to offer foreign assistance within the framework of South-South cooperation and to the best of its ability, and stayed engaged in and promoted international development cooperation.

In the context of foreign assistance, China believes that every bit of kindness received should be returned with many times more, and that adversity reveals true friendship just as the test of fire reveals genuine gold. China will never look on when its friends are in need, still less pursue its own agenda by helping others. Especially in the case of emergency humanitarian assistance, China’s rescue and relief assistance to countries struck by natural disasters and major infectious diseases has won China much praise from the international community. Be it in the Indian Ocean tsunami, the severe Nepal earthquake or in the fight against Ebola, bubonic plague or Zika, China was always there. The words left on the Chinese supplies sent abroad during the pandemic are most telling: “Though we are thousands of miles apart, our friendship is as solid as gold”; “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies”; and “Mountains and valleys do not meet, but people do”. These Chinese and foreign proverbs echo the profound essence of the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and thus demonstrate the significance of this vision in this era.

As things stand, COVID-19 infections are still growing in the world, and countries are doing their best to cope. In addition to ensuring successful epidemic control at home, China will earnestly implement the measures announced by President Xi Jinping on such occasions as the 73rd World Health Assembly, the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN, and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19. China will continue to promote international cooperation on fighting COVID-19 in line with the actual needs of the countries affected, and support them, especially developing countries, in combating the virus and resuming economic and social development. China will continue to enhance information and experience sharing with the WHO and the international community, support the WHO in playing a leadership role in the global response, and work with countries around the world to build a global community of health for all. As a Chinese saying goes, “The flame runs high when everyone adds wood to the fire.” As long as the international community acts in concert and forms a synergy, we will be able to build a force strong enough to defeat COVID-19 and to protect the health and well-being of people all over the world.

Wang Xiaotao is Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency.