SCIO briefing on the cooperation between China and the int'l community in fighting COVID-19

The State Council Information Office (SCIO) held a press conference Thursday morning in Beijing to introduce the cooperation between China and the international community in fighting COVID-19. March 28, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference being held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). As the novel coronavirus has been rampaging through many countries around the world, strengthening international cooperation has become a matter of utmost urgency. Today, we have invited Mr. Luo Zhaohui, vice minister of foreign affairs; Mr. Xu Nanping, vice minister of science and technology; Mr. Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC); and Mr. Deng Boqing, vice chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), who will brief you about the cooperation between China and the international community in fighting COVID-19. They will also answer your questions. First, let us hear from Mr. Luo.

Luo Zhaohui:

Thank you. It is my pleasure to be here and share with you China's efforts to fight the novel coronavirus in terms of international cooperation. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, under the personal command and deployment of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese people have been racing against time in a fight against the epidemic. After the whole country's arduous effort, our domestic epidemic prevention and control situation continues to show a positive trend, prompting an acceleration in the resumption of life and work. This once again demonstrates the notable strength of the leadership of the Communist Party of China as well as socialism with Chinese characteristics. China has not only managed to curb the spread of COVID-19 domestically, but also buy the world time, gain experience and provide assistance in the global fight against COVID-19. 

While leading the domestic effort to prevent and control the novel coronavirus, President Xi Jinping has also attached great importance to the global fight against COVID-19, commanding us to participate in it and carry out international cooperation accordingly. President Xi Jinping has made hands-on efforts, meeting and holding talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, Pakistani President Arif Alvi, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during their special visits to China. In almost two months, through "telephone diplomacy," President Xi Jinping has conducted 26 phone calls with 22 leaders of foreign countries and international organizations. He also sent messages of sympathy to the leaders of South Korea, Italy, France and Spain, and replied to the letters from Bill Gates and other foreigners who are friendly to China. President Xi Jinping will also take part in a special G20 leaders' summit tonight on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been clearly pointed out by President Xi Jinping that the international community should step up its efforts and act to carry out effective cooperation with a joint prevention and control mechanism, so as to build a strong synergy and curb the pandemic. The international community truly feels the unwavering spirit of cooperation and responsibility of the Chinese leadership. In addition, Premier Li Keqiang talked over phone with the leaders of Germany and the European Commission. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also conducted 57 phone calls with foreign ministers and dignitaries of 40 countries. 

Love knows no boundaries. China has received valuable support from the international community during the most difficult time in its fight against COVID-19. Leaders of over 170 countries as well as more than 50 international and regional organizations have sent messages of sympathy and support to China's leaders. A total of 79 countries and 10 international organizations have also provided the Chinese people with great assistance during this period.

Just as the situation surrounding the epidemic prevention and control in China saw positive improvement, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and has rampaged through many countries around the world. Currently, Europe remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the situation in the United States is still severe and that in Asian countries is not optimistic. In addition, there is a risk of possible spread of COVID-19 in Africa. 

"A drop of water in need shall be returned with a spring in deed." China sympathizes with countries suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and is offering help and providing assistance within its ability. The Chinese government has pledged to provide emergency assistance, including medical supplies such as test reagents and face masks, to over 80 countries as well as international and regional organizations such as the WHO and African Union. China has also donated US$20 million to the WHO, supporting it in playing a better coordinating role in international action against the pandemic. Local governments, enterprises and private institutions in China have also lent a helping hand to the hardest-hit countries.

We share our experience in epidemic prevention and control with other countries by providing multilingual prevention and control measures, as well as therapeutic plans; holding international conferences to exchange ideas; hosting video conferences with foreign health experts; sending medical expert teams to countries including Iran, Iraq, Italy, Serbia and Cambodia; and cooperating with relevant countries on vaccine research as well as drug development. Thanks to China's initiative, the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was held successfully in Vientiane, Laos. Foreign Ministers of China, South Korea, and Japan held a video conference to discuss issues related to COVID-19. One outcome included China and South Korea specially establishing a joint prevention and control mechanism to cope with the pandemic.

China's good will and efforts have been highly commended by the international community. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban went to airports to personally welcome Chinese medical team who had brought donated medical supplies. The arrival of a team of Chinese medical experts at the Phnom Penh International was broadcast live on the official Facebook page of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, which garnered 600,000 views. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio noted that Chinese health experts and the aid they had brought "will help save Italy."

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said that China is doing the right thing and that it's that kind of solidarity we need. Solidarity, solidarity and more solidarity. UN Secretary General Guterres also told President Xi Jinping that the United Nations appreciates China's assistance in fighting the epidemic in countries currently facing difficulties. China's support is vital to multilateralism and looks forward to China's continued leadership in international affairs.

Currently, the pandemic is still spreading around the world. Effectively preventing imported cases has become the primary task of China's epidemic prevention and control.

In the era of globalization, the interests of human society are highly integrated. We are intertwined and interdependent, with responsibilities shared together. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, viruses recognize no national borders and epidemics do not discriminate between races. COVID-19 once again proves that human beings live in a community of shared future. China will continue to firmly adhere to the concept of building a community with a shared future for humanity, work together with people of all countries, and strive to win the final victory in the fight against the epidemic. One of Chairman Mao's poems states that "peace would then reign over the world, with the same warmth and cold throughout the globe." We expect and believe that the days described in the poem will be realized soon. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, vice minister Luo. Next, the floor is given to vice minister Xu.

Xu Nanping:

Thank you. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to thank the media for your attention and support for scientific and technological work. Since the outbreak, the Chinese scientific and technological community resolutely implemented General Secretary Xi Jinping's instructions and established a scientific research group focusing on five areas: clinical treatment and medicine development, vaccine research, virus tracing and transmission research, testing reagents and equipment, as well as animal model development. Ten sub-groups were also set up accordingly. Our goal is to make sure that we can "trace, prevent, control the virus and treat the patients." We have been working around the clock to speed up scientific and technological research. A number of effective scientific and technological achievements have been made.

We isolated and identified the virus strain in the first place, then shared the entire genome sequence with the WHO, which provided an important basis for scientists to start work on medicines, vaccines and diagnostic studies worldwide; we have gradually deepened our understanding of the pathogenic mechanism and transmission mode of the virus, providing a scientific basis for prevention and control strategies; we quickly filtered, selected and evaluated chloroquine, fapilavir, tocilizumab and a batch of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions, traditional Chinese patent medicines and other effective therapeutic drugs, as well as convalescent plasma therapy, stem cell therapy, artificial liver therapy, etc.; we have established various treatment plans suitable for patients at different stages of the disease; we have established and formed a testing technology system coupled with nucleic acid and antibody testing in a very short time, and continuously improved its sensitivity and convenience; we have been able to promote five parallel technical routes in the study of possible vaccines, under which the recombinant adenovirus-vectored vaccine has been undergoing clinical trials since March 16.

These achievements are hard-earned and are the result of the dedicated hard work of the Chinese science and technology community. Since the reform and opening up, China's scientific and technological innovation capabilities have been continuously improved, with continuous improvements in innovation system building.

At the same time, these achievements are also based on the experience and theoretical exploration accumulated in the struggle of humanity versus the virus. In the scientific research of epidemic prevention and control, we always adhere to the concept of a community of shared future for mankind, seeking to promote exchanges and cooperation with international counterparts, as well as in-depth communications. Every day, we receive a lot of suggestions and statements of intent to cooperate from our international peers. It is very touching. Meanwhile, we also share our scientific data, technical results and prevention and control strategies with the global scientific and technological community in a timely manner. It can be said that the spirit of helping each other who find themselves in the same boat, sharing and cooperation runs through the whole process of China's anti-epidemic science and technology research.

At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading globally. Viruses know no borders. The Chinese science and technology community will continue to carry out in-depth scientific and technological research cooperation and exchanges with scientists from various countries in epidemic prevention and control, patient treatment, and basic research, share research progress and anti-epidemic experience, and work together to provide solid scientific and technological support for the globe's ultimate victory against the pandemic. Thank you all.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you. Next, Mr. Zeng, please make your introduction.

Zeng Yixin:

Good morning, media friends. Under the deployment and command of General Secretary Xi Jinping, under the leadership of the leading group of the CPC Central Committee for COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control, as well as the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the National Health Commission attaches great importance to actively carrying out international cooperation in the fight against development of epidemics. We are sharing China's prevention and treatment experiences and technologies, and providing the aid and technical support to other countries affected by the current pandemic. Our work has been widely recognized by the international community. Let me introduce to you the main work we have undertaken recently in three aspects.

First, we are actively sharing China's experiences in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Our prevention and control strategies, methods, technologies, standards, and cases have been tested in actual epidemic control situations. These are also what we have explored, analyzed, and summarized through continuous practices. These experiences are very precious. China is actively sharing these with the international community according to the needs of different countries. The National Health Commission compiled a set of technical documents such as the latest versions of diagnosis and treatment plan, and prevention and control plan. We have shared them in a timely way with 180 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations, to help maintain global health security.

Second, we organized experts for in-depth technical exchanges. The National Health Commission and the WHO jointly hosted a briefing to share China's experience on COVID-19 response. Representatives from 77 countries and seven international organizations attended the event, and over 100,000 people watched the briefing online. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, U.N. Resident Coordinator in China, and World Bank officials all spoke highly of China's prevention and control efforts in video and on-site speeches. They called on countries to learn from China's experience and jointly fight against COVID-19. We established an online knowledge center and an expert pool for international cooperation in prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment. We held close to 30 technical exchange meetings with over 100 countries and regions via video call. The video meetings were timely, comprehensive, and effective, allowing China to respond promptly to the needs of the international community and provide precise technological support.

Third, we sent medical and health experts to assist relevant countries. The experts were sent in accordance with the arrangements of the Chinese central government and at the request of the countries. The experts shared experiences, exchanged views, and provided guidance and advice on prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment. The countries now include Italy, Serbia, and Cambodia, and we are preparing to send experts to other affected countries. We have also guided Chinese medical teams who have long stationed in 56 countries to help developing countries prevent and control COVID-19 and provide technical advice and health education to locals and overseas Chinese. Over 200 online and offline training sessions have been held. 

Next up, in line with the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the National Health Commission will continue cooperating effectively with the WHO, share China's experience with the international community in various ways, and provide technical support to other countries. Playing its role as a responsible country, China joins hands with other countries in combating the virus and building a community with a shared future for mankind. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Zeng. Now, let's invite Mr. Deng.

Deng Boqing:

Thanks. Good morning, friends from the media.

Currently, COVID-19 has broken out in many countries and is still spreading. It is urgent to carry out effective international cooperation in prevention and control. Only through solidarity can we overcome the difficulties, and only with joint efforts can we beat the disease.

Assistance to other countries is an important part of international cooperation. Offering such support within capacity is crucial for China to keep with the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and live up to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. It is China's responsibility to support other countries in need as a major responsible country and a country that has once been helped by other countries in difficult times. By doing this, China can also control and reduce the risk of imported infections.

The CIDCA resolutely implemented the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee, swiftly offered emergency humanitarian aid, and raced against the clock to provide international assistance in close coordination with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Health Commission, Ministry of Commerce, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance, General Administration of Customs, Civil Aviation Administration, and relevant enterprises.

We have sent four batches of aid to 89 countries and four international organizations. We are making implementation plans for the fifth batch.

China offers aid to hard-hit countries, countries struggling with relatively weak public health systems and virus prevention capacities, and international organizations such as the EU, the African Union and ASEAN. Echoing the WHO's call for donations, we have donated US$20 million to the organization for designated purposes including strengthening their capacities of epidemic prevention and control, and improving their public health systems.

Geographically, we have offered emergency assistance to 28 Asian countries, 16 European countries, 26 African countries, nine American countries and 10 South Pacific countries. 

The assistance we provide to foreign countries comes in the form of medical supplies and medical technologies. Medical supplies include testing kits, masks, protective suits, goggles, infrared thermometers, medical gloves and shoe covers, ventilators, and other diagnosis and treatment equipment. Medical technology assistance is carried out in the form of sending medical expert groups to share experience and advice on diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, many Chinese local governments, businesses, private institutions and individuals have provided support and assistance to foreign countries as well. 

Chinese aid supplies carry eye-catching words. For example, the logo features the words "FOR SHARED FUTURE" in English. This highlights China's aspiration and mission when conducting foreign assistance. From those donated supplies, we can see not only ancient Chinese adages like "Although miles apart, the friendship between true friends is stronger than metal and stone," but also famous lines by celebrated French author Victor Hugo, former South African President Nelson Mandela, as well as lines from Italian operas. These words show the reality of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Our assistance to foreign countries is the most concentrated and wide-ranging emergency humanitarian action we have conducted since the founding of the People's Republic of China. It manifests the Chinese nation's ideal of building a world shared by all, and the Chinese people's generosity and readiness to help others in hard times. This has won recognition from the international community. Leaders of many countries and international organizations expressed gratitude to China for its valuable assistance and support. Pakistani President Arif Alvi paid a special visit to China to extend appreciation for China's contribution to the world, as well as the brotherhood between the two countries. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic personally approved the Serbian message posted on China's aid materials to Serbia, greeted Chinese medics arriving in Serbia at the airport in person, and kissed the Chinese national flag. The Italian prime minister specially called President Xi Jinping to express his sincere thanks. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen lauded and thanked Chinese assistance and support in a video speech in English, French and German. People from a variety of countries gave thumbs-up to China on the internet, staged light shows to support China, played the Chinese national anthem in residential communities and chanted "Thank you, China" on the streets.

As the global pandemic is developing, China finds itself amidst a crucial moment of guarding against imported cases and a rebound in indigenous cases. The Chinese government will continue to offer assistance, within its capacity, to affected countries, while carrying out epidemic prevention and control at home. 

Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Deng. Now we will take questions. Please identify your media organization before asking your question.

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