|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 10, 2020|
CCTV: At present, the pandemic is fast spreading and the world is short of medical supplies. Many countries are seeking help from China. Could you tell us what help China has provided?
Zhao Lijian: With the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China has provided support and assistance to the international community within its capacity while continuing to do a good job in epidemic control at home.
So far, the Chinese government has provided or is providing supplies to 127 countries and four international organizations, including surgical masks, protective gears and testing reagents. China donated $20 million to the WHO, sent 13 medical teams to 11 countries and held over 70 video conferences with experts from more than 150 countries and international organizations. Localities, enterprises and civil groups in China also donated medical supplies to more than 100 countries, regions and international organizations.
Some countries asked China for assistance in commercial procurement through diplomatic channels, and we recommended exporters to them. China's Ministry of Commerce also published a list of manufacturers certified by regulatory authorities and facilitated the customs clearance of supplies in compliance with regulations.
As of April 8, 58 countries and regions as well as four international organizations have signed contracts on commercial procurement of medical supplies with Chinese businesses, and another 71 countries and ten international organizations are in talks for such purchase. There are other foreign buyers cooperating with Chinese companies, too.
I'd like to share some more details with you. According to statistics from Chinese customs, from March 1 to April 4, China exported RMB 10.2 billion worth of anti-epidemic supplies, including 3.86 billion masks, 37.52 million protective gears, 2.41 million infrared thermometers, 16,000 ventilators, 2.84 million testing kits and 8.41 million protective goggles.
China will continue to work with other countries and overcome difficulties with mutual assistance to safeguard international public health security.
China Daily: The US State Department spokesperson said on April 9 that the US is "deeply disturbed that Taiwan's information was withheld from the global health community, as reflected in the WHO's January 14 statement that there was no indication of human-to-human transmission." She also claimed that "the WHO once again chose politics over public health," and the WHO's actions "cost time and lives." What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I responded to a similar question yesterday. Since the US has refused to let go of this issue and kept trying to confuse public opinion on it, I would like to make a few more comments.
First, the novel coronavirus is a novel virus, which means it takes time for us to research it, know it and draw conclusions accordingly. This is a science-based process. On January 20, a high-level expert group of the National Health Commission of China announced the confirmation of human-to-human transmission. The WHO sent a team on a field trip to Wuhan from January 20 to 21. Dr. Gauden Galea, WHO Representative in China, said on January 21 that the latest information showed that the virus has been passed to some extent from person to person. We can see that at the earliest time possible, the WHO released authoritative information based on China's confirmation of "human-to-human transmission" and its field visits. In fact, no responsible countries or organizations will jump to conclusions without sufficient and valid evidence.
Second, the US claims that the international community failed to get information from the Taiwan region. This is not true. As people in the Taiwan region share a bond of kinship with us, no one cares more about their health and well-being than the Chinese central government. After the epidemic broke out, the National Health Commission of China promptly informed the Taiwan region of the situation. In mid-January, at the request of the relevant departments in the Taiwan region, experts from the Taiwan region paid a field visit to Wuhan and had discussions with mainland experts. Taiwan medical experts expressed sincere thanks to the mainland for the reception.
WHO is a specialized UN agency composed of sovereign states. Taiwan's participation in the activities of WHO and other international organizations needs to be arranged in a reasonable and appropriate manner after cross-straits consultations under the one-China principle. According to the agreement reached between China and the WHO, there is an International Health Regulations Contact Point in the Taiwan region, so it can obtain timely information on global public health emergencies released by the WHO, and report its public health emergency information to the WHO in a timely manner as well. Health experts from the Taiwan region can attend WHO technical meetings, and WHO experts can visit the Taiwan region if necessary for field trips or to provide assistance. These arrangements ensure that the Taiwan region can respond to public health emergencies in a timely and effective manner wherever these emergencies occur.
Third, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the WHO has been holding an objective, scientific and impartial position, performing its duties, and making enormous efforts to assist countries in response to the pandemic and to promote international cooperation, which has been widely recognized and highly praised by the international community. The US State Department Spokesperson made fact-distorting comments to shift the blame, which won't be helpful to ease the current situation in the US or to facilitate international anti-epidemic cooperation. Her words will only damage the credibility, image and interests of the US. We urge the US side to respect the facts and international public opinion, and focus on containing the epidemics at home. China will, as always, firmly support the WHO in fulfilling its duties and leading global anti-epidemic cooperation.
AFP: The US has threatened to cut off China Telecom from serving the US market because of legal and security risks. What's China's response?
Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports and are firmly opposed to it. The Chinese government asks Chinese enterprises to abide by local laws and regulations and follow market principles when carrying out economic cooperation. We urge the US side to keep to the principles of market economy, stop abusing the concept of national security and politicizing economic issues, and stop wantonly oppressing Chinese companies. It should foster a fair, unbiased and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies investing and operating in the US.
Beijing Youth Daily: The Saudi-led coalition announced late April 8 a two-week ceasefire which is set to begin at 12 am April 9 local time and could be extended. The move was prompted by the call of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen for a pause of hostilities in the country in order to counter the spread of the COVID-19. The temporary ceasefire would pave the way for talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: We welcome and support the Saudi-led coalition's announcement of a ceasefire which we believe will enable Yemen and other regional countries to better cope with the COVID-19 and facilitate Yemen's peace process. The Chinese side hopes that relevant parties will prioritize the national interests of Yemen and the interests of the Yemeni people, engage in dialogues and negotiations to alleviate the situation as soon as possible, move forward the political settlement process, and restore peace, stability and normalcy in Yemen at an early date.
The Paper: The Red Cross Society of China donated masks and other medical supplies to the Vatican in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Since the outbreak of COVID 19, the Vatican side has indicated through different channels that medical institutions with links to the Vatican authorities face a shortage of medical supplies. The Red Cross Society of China donated medical supplies to the Vatican Pharmacy in a humanitarian spirit to support the Vatican's efforts to fight the pandemic and treat the affected. The first batch of medical supplies has arrived in the Vatican and we will continue to provide assistance within our capacity. China thinks highly of the Vatican's long dedication to helping poor areas improve medical and health conditions and contributing to addressing global health emergencies. The virus, a common enemy to mankind, sees no difference in nationality, race or religion. China stands ready to work with the international community, including the Vatican, to jointly fight the pandemic and uphold global public health security.
Shenzhen TV: A 15-member medical team organized by a Chinese company arrived in the Nigerian capital of Abuja yesterday with medical supplies. They were greeted at the airport by senior officials from the Nigerian government. However, there are reports that some groups in Nigeria, such as the Nigerian Medical Association, do not welcome the Chinese medical team. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports. First of all, at the request of the Nigerian government, a Chinese company collected a batch of medical supplies in China for the Nigerian side. Some medical personnel working for the company were also dispatched on the same plane. Just as the Nigerian Health Minister said, the support and help from the Chinese government and companies was timely, which has effectively relieved Nigeria's urgent need and greatly enhanced its confidence in dealing with the pandemic.
The virus knows no borders and is a common challenge to all mankind. China and Africa are members of a community with a shared future. For China, it is only natural to help African countries fight the pandemic in light of our friendship and cooperation. In addition to the assistance from the Chinese government, our localities, enterprises and overseas Chinese communities also extended a helping hand and contributed to Africa's fight against the pandemic in various forms and through different channels, which have been warmly welcomed and appreciated by the African side. With mutual support and assistance, China is ready to work with African countries including Nigeria for the final victory.
China National Radio: You announced yesterday that a team of medical experts the Chinese government sent to Kazakhstan had left for the country. Do you have more details on their work in Kazakhstan?
Zhao Lijian: A team of 10 medical experts sent by the Chinese government arrived in Kazakhstan yesterday. The Kazakh government attached great importance to this and sent two military planes to China to take the team to Kazakhstan. Upon their arrival, the team was warmly welcomed by the Kazakh government and people. The Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vice Foreign Minister and Vice Minister of Health greeted the team at the airport. Kazakhstan said that China's dispatch of medical experts to Kazakhstan is a practical measure to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state on strengthening anti-epidemic cooperation. Chinese experts have rich experience in prevention and control and diagnosis and treatment, which is of great significance to Kazakhstan's fight against the pandemic. In a recent article written by the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, he spoke highly of China's effective practice in fighting the pandemic, saying that "thanks to strict organization and discipline, China has succeeded in stopping the spread of the epidemic."
The Chinese team of experts plans to work in Kazakhstan for 15 days. The two sides will exchange views on screening, prevention and control of infectious diseases, case management, clinical treatment, community-based health management and laboratory, and the Chinese experts will provide training and guidance to the Kazakh side. China also donated anti-epidemic supplies to Kazakhstan, including surgical masks, N95 respirators, protective suits, non-invasive ventilators and medicine.
Our cooperation on COVID-19 is valued by the Chinese and Kazakh governments with actions from people in the two countries. The two sides have lent firm political, material and spiritual support to each other. It demonstrates our high level and unique permanent comprehensive strategic partnership, as well as the good-neighborliness and friendship from generation to generation between China and Kazakhstan. China is ready to work with Kazakhstan to jointly combat the pandemic and advance bilateral relations based on mutual assistance in times of adversity.
Beijing Daily: China and the Arab League recently held a video conference for health experts. Do you have more details on the conference?
Zhao Lijian: On April 9, the Foreign Ministry, the National Health Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology held a China-Arab video conference to share experience on COVID-19 with health officials and experts from Arab states and the Secretariat General of the Arab League. Representative that attended the conference include AL Assistant Secretary General for Social Affairs, heads of health department and experts from 12 Arab countries and WHO representatives. In response to the concerns of the Arab side, Chinese experts shared their expertise on COVID-19's epidemiological features, developing trend, prevention and control, clinical diagnosis and treatment, and related scientific research. They took over 50 questions. The meeting lasted nearly three hours with over 100 representatives in attendance and achieved good results.
The Arab side spoke highly of China's progress in fighting the epidemic and its important contribution to the world's fight against the pandemic and thanked China for hosting another video conference for Arab countries. They believed such in-depth, informative and practical exchange with the Chinese experts is of great significance for Arab countries to do a good job in pandemic response. The Arab side is ready to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China to jointly combat the pandemic.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Arab states and the Secretariat General of the Arab League have given China firm support and assistance, which fully demonstrates the friendship between China and Arab states featuring mutual assistance and solidarity. At present, the pandemic is spreading across the world, and no country is immune from it. With the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China will continue to strengthen information-sharing and deepen cooperation with Arab states. While maintaining prevention and control efforts at home, China will provide support and assistance within its capacity to Arab states in light of their needs and move forward the China-Arab strategic partnership.