Here’s the latest update on COVID-19. According to the National Health Commission, March 8 saw 1,535 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China’s mainland, bringing the tally to 58,600.
Q: China sent experts to Pakistan to help dealing with a severe plague of locusts. Can you give us more details on that? What else will China do to help Pakistan?
A: Pakistan is suffering from a severe plague of locusts. To help it deal with the problem, a Chinese working group led by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs visited many stricken areas in Pakistan from February 23 to March 5. They had in-depth exchange with local authorities and proposed targeted and comprehensive solutions which were highly appreciated and recognized by the Pakistani side. In the meantime, considering the urgency to tackle the plague, China decided to immediately provide prevention and control supplies to Pakistan, including 50,000 liters of malathion and 14 pesticide sprayers, which arrived in Pakistan this morning.
As all-weather strategic cooperative partners and iron-clad friends, China and Pakistan share the fine tradition of mutual assistance. We believe the Pakistani government and people will surely overcome the plague. Based on Pakistan’s needs, we will continue providing as much support and assistance as possible, strengthen cooperation in personnel training, experience sharing and technical support, and help it establish and improve a comprehensive system for pest prevention and control to enhance its capabilities to deal with biological disasters.
While delivering supplies in response to the plague, China also sent an additional batch of coronavirus testing kits on the same plane this morning. Besides addressing the plague, we will also continue helping Pakistan to combat COVID-19.
Q: During a press interview on March 6, US Secretary of State Pompeo called the novel coronavirus “the Wuhan coronavirus”. I wonder if you could comment on that?
A: Despite the fact that the WHO has officially named this novel type of coronavirus, certain American politician, disrespecting science and the WHO decision, jumped at the first chance to stigmatize China and Wuhan with it. We condemn this despicable practice.
Q: Secretary Pompeo also said that China’s sharing of the information is not the way America works with the transparency and openness that needs to take place, which has put the US behind the curve. Do you have any comment?
A: Since the COVID-19 broke out, China has been providing timely updates to the WHO and countries and regions including the US in an open, transparent and responsible manner. We have shared with them the genetic sequence of the virus, responded to their concerns and strengthened international cooperation. The world has already reached the clear, fair consensus that China’s contribution bought precious time for the international community to enhance preparedness. Mr. Pompeo’s attempt to smear China’s efforts will not succeed.
Q: To support the ROK government and people’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government has decided to send a batch of medical supplies including 100,000 N95 respirators, one million surgical masks and 10,000 protective gowns. It is also offering to provide testing reagents enough to test 50,000 people. This stands in stark contrast to some foreign media reports that say China prohibits the export of surgical masks and related raw materials because of the epidemic. Do you have any comment on it?
A: The Chinese embassy in the ROK has released information on China’s donation of medical supplies including 1.1 million masks to the ROK. We have been updated that the first batch of assistance materials will arrive soon. We noted that this act of kindness has been warmly received in the ROK.
Based on my information, apart from the central government, local governments and businesses in China have also expressed sympathy and support to the ROK and offered assistance to the best of their capabilities. As of March 8, local governments in Shanghai, Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Jilin have donated supplies through their sister cities in the ROK. Localities like Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan are also planning to make donations.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the ROK government and people from all walks of life have offered China strong support and assistance, for which we are deeply grateful. As close neighbors, it’s natural for us to be there for each other during testing times. In the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance, we are ready to share information and experience with the ROK and strengthen communication and cooperation in joint prevention and control to strive for an early victory against the epidemic.
As for the export of surgical masks and their manufacturing materials, the Commerce Ministry has already made it clear. The Chinese government has not placed any restrictive trade measures on the export of surgical masks and their manufacturing materials. Companies are free to trade them in line with market principles. As things stand, due to the strong need of prevention and control efforts, especially as normal work and production activities are being resumed nationwide, masks are in high demand and there is a shortfall in supply, so it may be quite difficult to source masks from China at this moment. However, humanity shines through the dark cloud of the epidemic. While overcoming difficulties at home, we are ready to provide other countries with masks and other medical supplies to help them fight the outbreak so that together we can secure a final victory for all.
Q: According to the ROK military, the DPRK once again launched three projectiles today. Do you have any comment?
A: We noted news reports on that. As the current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complex and sensitive, China calls on all parties to demonstrate flexibility on issues of mutual concern, stick to dialogue and consultation, and make efforts to sustain the current momentum of dialogue and detente, facilitate denuclearization on the Peninsula, and strive to achieve lasting peace on the Peninsula and in the region.
Q: We note that China has announced a 20-million-dollar donation to WHO. Is it for any designated purpose? When will WHO get the money? What purpose does China aim to achieve by this donation at this moment?
A: On March 7, Ambassador Chen Xu, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland conveyed to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the Chinese government has decided to contribute 20 million US dollars to WHO’s international cooperation against COVID-19. Director-General Tedros expressed thanks and appreciated the Chinese government’s generous support for other developing countries at a critical moment in global response despite its own difficulties. He also said WHO will continue to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China for substantial progress in international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, WHO, under the leadership of Director-General Tedros, has played an important role in terms of raising awareness against the epidemic, promoting a science-based response, and boosting the medical and health care system of relevant countries. This has been widely recognized and commended by the international community.
The epidemic has broken out in multiple localities around the world and is still spreading, giving greater urgency to a coordinated response at the global level. By donating this fund, China is responding to WHO’s call with a concrete action. We believe this will help give full play to its professional and coordinating role in the global response against the epidemic, especially in helping small and medium-sized countries with vulnerable public health systems to shore up lines of defense. The donation is meant for designated purposes like COVID-19 prevention and control and improvement of public health systems in developing countries. The details will be finalized through consultation between the Chinese government and WHO and acted upon as soon as possible.
The virus respects no borders. In the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance, China will continue to actively support and participate in the international cooperation to fight against the epidemic, contribute its strength to regional and global public health security, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Q: After the DPRK launched projectiles, some countries have pulled out their diplomatic staff. Is China considering doing the same?
A: I’m not aware of that.
Q: Oil prices have plunged after talks on reducing production broke down between OPEC member Saudi Arabia and Russia. Does China have any comment on the potential impact for global economy or on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia?
A: China is a major energy importer and consumer. We hope the international energy market will remain stable. Faced with the COVID-19 epidemic, countries have various outlooks on the world economy. At this particular time, a stable global energy market is of special significance.