SCIO briefing on international cooperation in response to COVID-19

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on March 5 in Beijing to brief the media about international cooperation in response to COVID-19. March 6, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). Today, we are joined by Ma Zhaoxu, vice minister of foreign affairs; Guo Yezhou, vice minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; and Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission. They will brief you about international cooperation in response to COVID-19 and will also take questions.

First, I will give the floor to Mr. Ma. 

Ma Zhaoxu:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I'm very glad to be here and take the opportunity of this SCIO press conference to exchange information on international cooperation in regards to the prevention and control of COVID-19.

COVID-19 poses a major threat to the lives and health of Chinese people and is a serious challenge for global public health. Under the leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping, we have given full play to the advantages of our system and mobilized national resources with concerted efforts. With a responsibility to the people in China, as well as the rest of the world, we have adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures. Chinese people have been working together to fight the epidemic. Currently, we have seen much progress in the containment of COVID-19.  

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, President Xi Jinping has attached great importance to international cooperation for epidemic prevention and control. He issued important instructions on many occasions in strengthening communication and coordination with different countries and the World Health Organization (WHO). General Secretary Xi is also very concerned about the protection of Chinese citizens overseas. The instructions of General Secretary Xi gave us direction in how to handle international cooperation in response to COVID-19. President Xi Jinping also conducted phone conversations at the invitation of leaders from more than 10 countries and held meetings with the Prime Minister of Cambodia, President of Mongolia, and WHO director-general during their special visits to China. President Xi Jinping pointed out that upholding the spirit of a community with a shared future for mankind, China has not only been doing its best to protect the lives and health of its own people, but has also made positive contributions to safeguarding global public health security. These words convey a clear message that China will undoubtedly win the battle against the epidemic by mobilizing all resources, and blocking the spread of the virus. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on many occasions that President Xi's personal guidance and deployment show his great leadership capability. Leaders around the world also voiced confidence that under President Xi Jinping's leadership, the Chinese people will surely win the final victory over the epidemic.

China is standing at the forefront of the epidemic prevention and control work, and our contribution to global public health has won international recognition. Just as WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted, China's forceful actions have been protecting not only its own people, but also the rest of the world, and bought time for the global epidemic response. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, under the personal direction of President Xi Jinping, China has mobilized the whole nation to meet the grave challenge. With huge sacrifices, the country has made a great contribution to all mankind. China's concrete actions have won wide endorsement and appreciation from across the world, and demonstrated its sense of responsibility as a major country as well as its firm commitment to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. As leaders of various countries have said, the determination of the Chinese people to win the fight against the epidemic is awe-inspiring and the speed and scope of China's response to the epidemic is something that is rarely seen in the world. China's speed, scope and efficiency in this fight have demonstrated the institutional advantages of China's system of governance.

"A friend in need is a friend indeed": China is by no means alone in its fight against the epidemic. The international community has given us much valuable support. Leaders of over 170 countries and heads of more than 40 international and regional organizations have sent messages of sympathy and support to China. The United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, African Union, Arab League, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and the G77 have issued statements specifically expressing their confidence in and support for China. Many countries, international organizations and NGOs have also lent a helping hand by donating medical supplies to China, which has played an important role in battling the epidemic.

This fight is a great opportunity to put into practice the important concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by President Xi Jinping. Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will share weal and woe with the international community to jointly fight the epidemic. In a spirit of openness and transparency, China has provided timely updates on the epidemic, actively responded to various concerns, and worked hard to strengthen cooperation with the international community. We have communicated epidemic-related information to the WHO in a timely manner and shared the genetic sequencing of the virus. The international community, including the WHO, has spoken highly of China's actions. Recently, a joint expert team consisting of specialists from China and the WHO concluded a nine-day field inspection in Beijing, and Guangdong, Sichuan and Hubei provinces. The expert team acknowledged China's prevention and control measures as comprehensive, concrete and fruitful. They stated that China's efforts have won valuable time for the world and provided lessons for other countries. As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, China will continue to strengthen its cooperation with the WHO and contribute its share to the global epidemic prevention and control work.

Confronted by this sudden outbreak, the Chinese government has been resolute in protecting the security and interests of our citizens abroad. In response to overreactions by certain countries, we have stated our position at the earliest opportunity in line with rules and recommendations of the WHO. We are also in daily communication and consultation with various countries to reduce the impact on personnel and economic exchanges as much as possible. All our diplomatic and consular missions actively contacted Chinese nationals from Wuhan city and Hubei province who had been stranded overseas. We have brought back over 1,300 Chinese nationals stranded overseas. The Chinese embassy in Japan and the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have assisted Hong Kong government in bringing back residents of Hong Kong and Macao from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan. With the people's interests in mind, our diplomatic and consular missions are working around the clock in the fight against the epidemic.

The virus is merciless. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety, health and livelihood of foreign nationals in China. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working hard alongside local governments to solve their problems. The ministry has held three briefings on the prevention and control of the epidemic, and opened a special service hotline for embassies and consulates in China. Various local authorities have launched multilingual information services for foreigners in China through different channels, and made every effort to ensure their livelihoods, epidemic prevention and medical needs. We are also particularly concerned about the life and health of foreign students in China, and are taking care of them as if they were our own to ensure they feel at ease in the country.

The current global epidemic situation is changing rapidly. As we do our best in domestic prevention and control, we will continue to actively carry out international cooperation to combat the epidemic in an open, transparent and highly responsible manner; to share our experiences and practices in prevention and control measures, diagnosis and treatments; and to explore joint prevention and medical practice. We are also exploring further joint prevention measures with other countries; strengthening communication and coordination; exchanging epidemic information; exchanging control experiences and technologies; and carrying out cooperation in areas such as treatment programs, as well as drug and vaccine research and development.

I would like to stress that we will never forget the help provided by the international community, and we are ready to provide help within our capacity to countries in need. The virus knows no borders and the epidemic is the common enemy of mankind. The fight against COVID-19 once again shows that in an era of globalization, countries are more closely linked and are now inseparable. In the face of the epidemic, all countries must work together to build a community of shared future for mankind.

The Chinese nation has experienced many hardships but has never been crushed. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and with the strong support of the international community, the Chinese people will work in unity to achieve the final victory against the epidemic and to safeguard global public health and well-being. Thank you.

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