The COVID-19 outbreak poses both a great threat to the life and health of the Chinese people and a formidable challenge to global public health security. In the face of this major test, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups have united as one under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. Together, we have launched a massive, nation-wide response. The heroic acts of the Chinese people in fighting the epidemic have won admiration and support from the international community.
In this ongoing, critical struggle, we in the diplomatic service have been earnestly implementing the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the decisions and guidelines of the Party Central Committee in both letter and spirit. We have borne clearly in mind the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core and keep in alignment; developed greater confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and firmly upheld General Secretary Xi Jinping’s core position in both the Party Central Committee and the Party as a whole, and firmly upheld the Party Central Committee’s authority and its centralized, unified leadership. We are engaged in an all-out, people’s war against the epidemic. We are both working energetically to forge an enabling environment for epidemic control and economic and social development at home, and making China a strong line of defense in the global response to the epidemic.I
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, all of us in the diplomatic service have taken epidemic control as our foremost political mission. Guided by the overarching goal of containing and defeating the outbreak, we have advanced the relevant foreign affairs with a strong sense of mission and responsibility. We are doing our best to contribute to the domestic epidemic control efforts under the stewardship of the Party Central Committee, fulfill our duty to the country and protect our people’s well-being.
Defeating COVID-19, Building a Shared FutureWe are pursuing active diplomacy to secure strong international support. General Secretary Xi Jinping has personally presided over China’s epidemic response and projected calm and confidence. In phone calls with over ten foreign leaders, including those of France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Indonesia, Qatar, Malaysia, the United Kingdom (UK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ethiopia, Chile and Cuba, President Xi underscored that the whole nation is mobilized into a rapid response and the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures have been adopted. He stressed that China has every confidence, capacity and determination to triumph over the outbreak and minimize its impact, and will strive to meet this year’s targets for economic and social development. His determined and confident statements have sent a reassuring message to the world that China will win the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic.
To date, the leaders of over 170 countries and the heads of more than 40 international and regional organizations have sent messages of sympathy or issued statements of support for China. They have also commended China for its effective and extraordinary response. 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 to specifically express confidence in and support for China.
We have hosted the visits by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga at this special time. We have had a Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 in the Lao PDR. We have been working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO). I have spoken to over 20 foreign ministers, including those of Japan, the ROK, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, Iran and Malaysia. These diplomatic communications have forged a strong international consensus for the world to come together to address this outbreak.
We are pursuing all-round international cooperation to meet epidemic control needs. China’s diplomatic and consular missions have worked hard to secure medical supplies badly needed at home, provided information and facilitation for overseas procurement, and fast-tracked the delivery of donations from foreign governments, overseas Chinese and international friends. To date, in-kind assistance from 50 countries and international organizations has been received. A great many scarce medical supplies have made their way to Wuhan and other places where they are needed the most. In coordination with the competent authorities, we are also facilitating active information-sharing and scientific and research cooperation with other countries. These efforts will help pool international expertise for diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccine development.We are following a people-centred approach to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of our people. Confronted by this sudden outbreak, we have been resolute in protecting the security and interests of our citizens abroad. In response to the overreactions of certain countries, we have stated our position at the earliest opportunity consistent with WHO recommendations. We are also in daily communication and consultation with various countries to prevent the unnecessary hindrance of personnel and economic exchanges.
With the people’s interests in mind, we have set up consular protection mechanisms to deal with the outbreak. All of our diplomatic and consular missions have been instructed to locate and contact our compatriots from Hubei who had been stranded overseas. Over 10 charter flights have been sent to take back over 1,300 Hubei residents from Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Viet Nam, Singapore and Indonesia. Under the overall guidance of the central leadership, we assisted the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in bringing back Hong Kong and Macao residents from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.
Our diplomatic and consular missions are working around the clock at this difficult time: they have assisted over 18,100 Chinese citizens who had not been able to return home due to flight cancellations, received or made over 10,000 calls to provide consular assistance, and helped resolve nearly 2,700 consular cases. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has sent a task force to Wuhan to coordinate foreign-related matters in epidemic response. Undaunted by the virus, they are setting a fine example for the entire diplomatic service as “heroes in harm’s way”.
We are reaching out to the world to communicate China’s extraordinary response. By participating in the Munich Security Conference, hosting daily MFA briefings and getting our stories out on social media, we are informing the world of our all-out efforts to battle the outbreak. We have presented facts to show the bright future of China’s development, shoring up international confidence and trust in China’s response.
At the same time, we have acted quickly to address discriminatory actions against Chinese nationals and to debunk rumours and misinformation that create panic, which contributed to fostering a sympathetic international climate. We have also held detailed briefings for foreign diplomatic missions in China, demonstrating that the Chinese government takes a responsible attitude and cares for the life and health of foreign nationals in China.
China’s diplomatic envoys and missions all over the world have engaged in intensive public diplomacy. They have given over 400 interviews to mainstream TV and radio channels, published over 300 op-eds and articles, given over 500 briefings and speeches, and posted over 20,000 messages on popular social media platforms at home and abroad. Their efforts have helped the world better appreciate the Chinese people’s heroic fight and instil greater confidence in the positive trajectory of the Chinese economy.
The Chinese people have put up a tenacious fight against the outbreak. Such extraordinary efforts have resulted in a growing positive momentum in epidemic control across the country. In the course of this fight, China has followed its vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, lived up to its responsibility as a major country, and made a substantial contribution to global public health.
China has demonstrated its sense of responsibility by curbing the global spread of the virus. Standing at the forefront of the fight, China has fulfilled its responsibility for global public health as well as for its own people. It has taken the most decisive and thorough measures to contain the spread of the virus beyond its borders. Chinese medical workers and researchers have raced against time to improve diagnostic and therapeutic solutions in an effort to raise the cure rate and lower the case fatality rate. With its quick response, China has bought precious time for the international community to enhance preparedness; with its forceful response, China has served as a strong line of defence against the spread of the epidemic.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres described China’s sacrifice in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus as a great contribution to all mankind. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that China’s forceful actions have limited the spread of the virus both domestically and beyond its borders. China is protecting not only its own people, but also the rest of the world.
China has earned trust for promoting a joint response to this global challenge. Since the epidemic broke out, China has placed great importance on international health cooperation. It has provided timely updates on the epidemic in a spirit of openness and transparency, shared the genetic sequencing of the virus, worked closely with the World Health Organization, neighbouring countries and other countries concerned, and invited international experts to join this fight. Committed to protecting the health of foreign nationals in China, we have worked in coordination with foreign missions to offer the latest information and consular assistance to the expatriate communities, who are united by trust, empathy and solidarity with China. China’s concrete actions have won itself wide endorsement and appreciation from the world and demonstrated its firm commitment to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
President of the 74th UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande commended China’s exemplary leadership and transparency in fighting the epidemic. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed that the whole world appreciates and commends China for its response and that no other country could have done better than China. A prestigious international journal pointed out that China has paved the way for the international scientific community to join the fight against the virus and laid the foundation for the mobilization of global scientific and research collaboration. It is widely agreed by the international community that the Chinese people have contributed significantly to curbing the outbreak and that China’s epidemic response is made not only out of a great sense of responsibility for the life and health of its own people but also as a strong support for the global fight against the disease.
China has set a high standard for improving global public health governance. This outbreak is a major test for China’s governance system and capacity, and for the global governance system and capacity. China’s signature strength, efficiency and speed in this fight have been widely acclaimed, and the institutional advantage of China’s governance is for all to see. Under the unified command, coordination and direction of the Party Central Committee, an inter-agency task force was set up immediately after the outbreak; first-level public health emergency response was activated in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities; and tens of thousands of medical workers and massive amounts of medical supplies and daily necessities were rapidly delivered to Hubei from across the country. These are vivid examples of the institutional strength of socialism with Chinese characteristics in pooling resources for major undertakings.
The international community shares the view that the speed, intensity and scope of China’s epidemic response is rarely seen in the world, that the leadership, response, mobilization and implementation capabilities China has demonstrated are exemplary for the rest of the world, and that China has gathered valuable experience for the international community in handling emergencies caused by infectious diseases and advancing global public health governance.
The history of civilization is a history of fighting diseases. COVID-19 is yet another sobering reminder that in this age of globalization, the futures of countries are closely linked and building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right way to go. China will take our joint response to the epidemic as an opportunity to call for greater international coordination and cooperation to jointly safeguard the Planet, our only home, and build a global village where we all have a stake in each other’s success.
Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China is committed to international and regional cooperation on epidemic response. To defeat COVID-19 is not only imperative for the life and health of the Chinese people, but also vital to the safety and well-being of people across the globe. The Foreign Ministry will implement the directions of the Party Central Committee, properly handle China’s external affairs by keeping in mind both the need of epidemic control and economic and social development, and advance China’s personnel exchanges and cooperation with other countries in a coordinated way.
We will expand cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels against the epidemic and keep up the good communication with WHO. We will explore trans-national epidemic prevention and control by China and countries concerned by better synergizing competent departments responsible for health, quarantine, transportation and border control, promptly sharing epidemic updates, containment measures and research findings, and intensifying joint R&D of antiviral drugs and vaccines. As we are doing our best to control the outbreak at home, China will assist countries and regions experiencing a spread of infections as much as we can and live up to our role as a responsible major country.
Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will deeply involve itself in global public health governance. Public health emergencies are a common challenge to all countries. The COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare inadequacies in global public health governance and highlighted the urgency to buttress the system. China is ready to work with the rest of the international community to address these challenges. We support the core role of the UN and WHO in responding to health emergencies and in improving the global public health governance system. Public health issues should be moved up on the international agenda. Major international health projects should be implemented and a health Silk Road taken forward.
Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will join the world in responding to non-traditional security challenges. We live in an era where traditional and non-traditional security issues are intertwined. Non-traditional security issues such as major communicable diseases pose an increasingly serious challenge to mankind as a whole. China will put into practice its concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We will promote greater dialogue and communication on non-traditional security matters, help advance relevant international cooperation processes, and work to build up understanding and trust among different parties. These efforts will help enrich the concept and practice of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Whatever we set our mind to, we must not rest until the job is done. Right now, the Chinese people are at the most crucial stage in fighting the outbreak, and some other countries are facing growing threats from the virus. Confronted by the epidemic, China will neither flinch nor just mind its own business. Severe as the situation may be, confidence is most valuable; tough as the job may seem, hope lies ahead. Just as General Secretary Xi pointed out, having endured many trials and tribulations in its history, the Chinese nation has never been defeated; the hardships and adversity have only bolstered our resilience and made us even stronger.
We are confident that under the personal guidance of General Secretary Xi and the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee, and with the entire Party fighting at the forefront and the whole nation standing united, we will triumph over any difficulties or challenges coming our way. With a higher morale and a stronger sense of duty, we will rally even closer around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and devote all our efforts to secure the final victory over the outbreak and realize the Two Centenary Goals in China and the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind!
The writer is the Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister