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Ambassador Zhang Zuo promotes working together to build a global community of health

2020-03-10

On March 10, 2020,the news website Vecher published a signed article by Ambassador Zhang Zuo with the title of “Working Together to Build a Global Community of Health”. Here’s the full text.

The epidemic on a global scale has a history of thousands of years, often changing the course of world political and economic development. The COVID-19 epidemic once again reminds us that the struggle between human and infectious diseases is endless. In the context of profound changes unseen in the last century, especially now with the public health emergency of outbreak, coupled with the global economic recession, we need to sum up lessons timely and work together to build a global community of health.

1、 China's response to the test of epidemic

In the face of the common threat of epidemic, it is necessary for the international community to work together to cope with it. The COVID-19 epidemic is a common enemy of mankind. China's strength, efficiency and speed are widely acclaimed in this great battle and test. The institutional advantages of China's governance are fully demonstrated, giving the world the Chinese answer.

(1) China's Strength has built a solid line of defense in the global response to the epidemic. The COVID-19 came to China was at the eve of the Chinese new year. Realizing the potential risk of its outbreak, the Chinese President Xi Jinping has personally taken charge of the fight against the epidemic. The 1.4 billion Chinese people, mobilizing together almost overnight, responded to the call by self-quarantine at their homes or working as volunteers to fight the epidemic in any way they could. With strong belief in the government, supporting to the country, and contributing to the society, coordinated actions were taken from mega-cities to villages and communities. Joint prevention and control mechanism was established. “Carpet screenings” were carried out nationwide. 31 provinces, regions and cities across the country launched a level-1 response to Major Public Health Emergency. 19 provinces extended support for 19 hardest-hit areas in Hubei province, demonstrating the advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics of "concentrating resources to deal with major challenges". China attaches great importance to the safety and health of all Chinese and foreign citizens, by adopting the strictest and most comprehensive prevention and control measures, and coordinating with foreign missions in China to strengthen the information sharing and consular assistance for foreign nationals. Trust, moving and cheering have become the common aspirations of foreign citizens in China. President Xi Jinping spoke with leaders of France, Germany, Britain, the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Chile and Cuba. He emphasized China's nationwide mobilization, comprehensive deployment, rapid response and the most comprehensive, strictest and thorough preventive measures. We have full confidence, capability and determination to overcome the epidemic and minimize its impact, and accomplish this year's economic and social development goals and tasks. President Xi Jinping's remarks sent the strong message to the world that China will win the battle against the epidemic. China made its sacrifice to effectively prevent the spread of the epidemic on the global scale, making great efforts to build a solid line of defense for global public health.

(2) China's Speed provides an important reference for the global epidemic prevention. This outbreak is a major test for China’s governance system and capability, and also a test for global governance system and capability. China has been mobilized nationwide, giving full play to the advantages of the socialist system, demonstrating its efficient command, overall planning and coordination, and strong ability in infrastructure construction and resource allocation. Several thousand engineers and construction workers, working around the clock, built the two specialized hospitals equipped with 2,500 beds in less than 15 days and 13 make-shift hospitals to accommodate additional 20,000 beds. Scientists and researchers, who have been working day and night, isolated the first virus strain and developed the test reagent in less than seven days. Over 42,600 medical workers of 346 medical teams from 29 provinces across the nation converged in Hubei, the hardest-hit province, to support epidemic control. Exemplifying professional dedication, all medical workers have been saving and protecting lives around the clock despite the risk of infection and exhaustion from overwork. While its own epidemic prevention and control is at a critical moment, China still provides assistance to the best of its capabilities to other countries with severe epidemic situation. China urgently donated a batch of nucleic acid test kits to Japan, a large number of medical masks to the Republic of Korea. China dispatched experts and donated medical equipments to Iran. With tangible actions, China has won universal recognition and appreciation from the world. China has fulfilled its solemn commitment to building a community with shared future for mankind. We also worked closely with relevant ministries in North Macedonia to exchange information, share experience, and cooperate in prevention. International community shares the view that speed of action, intensity and scale of China's response are rarely seen in the world. The leadership, response, organization, mobilization, and implementation capabilities China has demonstrated are impressive. China has gathered valuable experiences for international community to deal with crisis caused by infectious disease and to advance global public health governance. .

(3) China sets a new standard for world epidemic prevention. From the very beginning, China has attached great importance to international health cooperation. In accordance with the principle of openness and transparency, China informed all countries and parties of the epidemic situation in time, shared the genetic sequencing of the virus, worked closely with the World Health Organization, neighboring countries and relevant countries, and invited international experts to join our ranks. China first developed the rapid test kit in record time, established and improved the disease prevention and control system, confirmed the diagnosis and treatment plan, and shared it with research institutions around the world. China also pooled efforts to conduct drug research and development. Several types of vaccines are now expected to enter into clinical or emergency use in April. China has shared many technical documents such as epidemic prevention and control and diagnosis and treatment programs with over 100 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations around the world. China has also carried out technical exchanges through various methods such as expert discussions and remote meetings with countries, including Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, Germany, France, the United States and other related countries and with international organizations and regional organizations, including World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU), Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), African Union (AU) and etc. Instead of starting from scratch, countries could adopt different strategies according to the epidemic situation and risk assessment based on China's epidemic prevention and control approaches, as well as the measures of "early detection and early isolation". China is not fighting alone. The international community, including the European Union, Russia, Germany, France, and the United States, has given us valuable moral support and material assistance. Leaders from over 170 countries and heads of more than 40 international organizations have sent letters to China to express their firm support. H.E. President Stevo Pendarovski sent a letter to President Xi Jinping expressing his sympathy and support of China's fight against the epidemic. Friends from all walks of life in North Macedonia, some from government departments, some from China's sister cities, some from business community, some from ordinary people, made donations enthusiastically and sent letters to China to cheer for Wuhan and cheer for China. They made me and my colleagues grateful and the Chinese people grateful

(4) China Engine provides important power for building a community of health. As the No. 1 engine of world economic growth for many years, China's economy has been contributing over one third of the world economic growth for the past decade. China has become a stabilizer and booster for world economic development. Whether the COVID-19 epidemic will affect China's economy and further affect the world's economy has become an important issue of general concern around the world. Many countries, international organizations, political party leaders, and well-known experts are optimistic about this. They believe that challenges to China's economic and social development posed by the epidemic will be temporary. China will overcome the epidemic and achieve better and greater economic and social development. China is a $14.4 trillion mega-economy, accounting for 16.6% of the global economy. China's economy grew at 6.1% in 2019. With its strong resilience, great potential and abundant vitality, China’s economy is fully equipped to withstand various risks and challenges. At present, all regions of China except Hubei have resumed work and production based on the epidemic prevention and control situation. After the epidemic fully under control, China will be reborn, and its overstocked, restrained and frozen consumption and growth potential will be quickly released. The digital economy and artificial intelligence will develop rapidly. Spurred by the epidemic prevention and control, the potential of emerging E-business forms, such as remote education, healthcare, and online entertainment will be stimulated. China's economic and social development will make strides on a more sustainable track, and provide its own "Chinese power" to the world with its steady development, and work together to build a community of health for the world and drive the sustainable development of the world economy.

2、 Enlightenments of China after the test of this epidemic

The COVID-19 epidemic, along with previous Ebola virus epidemic, the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and other public health events have indicated that outbreak of infectious diseases will threaten the national health and economic and political stability. Diseases and pestilence have become a common non-traditional security threat for the international community. The prevention and control of infectious diseases urgently calls for global cooperation. China's exploration and practice have clearly given the world important enlightenment. The only way to fight the epidemic is to help each other, overcome the difficulties, and work together to build a community of health.

(1) Work together to build a health and health community and build a global public health protection system. No country can stand alone in the face of the epidemic. International cooperation, especially among major powers, is crucial. In terms of global public health and the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases, such cooperation include the establishment of a consultative and coordinated mechanism for public health and the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases, the intensification of exchanges between health departments and disease control centers between countries, and exchanges between doctors and researchers, joint research and development of health and epidemic prevention, pharmaceutical products and equipments. China is at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. We are not only responsible for the Chinese people, but also responsible for the global public health cause. By taking the most determined and thorough measures, we are fully committed to preventing the spread of the disease worldwide. Chinese medical workers and scientific researchers are racing against time to improve diagnosis and treatment measures, continuously improving the cure rate and reducing the mortality rate, and mobilize Chinese power to consolidate the defense line to control the spread of the epidemic. Overcoming this epidemic is not only related to the life and health of the Chinese people, but also to the safety and well-being of the peoples of the world. China will expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation in its fight against the epidemic, continue to maintain good communication with WHO, explore cross-border joint prevention and control, strengthen coordination among health, quarantine, transportation, border control and other departments, and timely share epidemic information, prevention and control measures, and research results and further strengthen joint research and development of antiviral drugs and vaccines. While China comprehensively and effectively controls its own epidemic situation, she will also provide assistance to the best of its capacity to other countries and regions where the epidemic has spread to, and play the role of a responsible major country.

(2) Work together to build a community of health to jointly address global public health security. Faced with the common threat of human society, the international community should go beyond ideological limitations to achieve cooperation. Back to the COVID-19 epidemic, international cooperation is also needed and necessary. It should be recognized that every country benefits from the successful control of infectious diseases, and in turn every country faces the threat of out-of-control infectious diseases. We live in a time when traditional and non-traditional security issues are entwined. Various non-traditional security issues, including major infectious diseases, pose an increasingly serious challenge to human society. China will actively implement the new security outlook of common, comprehensive, cooperation and sustainability, and is committed to strengthening dialogue and communication in non-traditional security fields, enhancing understanding and mutual trust among all parties, and promoting international cooperation in response to non-traditional security threats, continuously enriching the connotation and practice of building a community with shared future for mankind. "17+1 Cooperation" is entering the stage of upgrading. The Leaders’ Summit between China and Central and Eastern European Countries will be held in Beijing. We can seize this opportunity to jointly fight the epidemic and deepen the exchanges between China and CEE countries in the field of health cooperation, strengthening coordination in prevention and emergency management, public health policy and legal framework, establishing information communication mechanisms for common and sudden acute infectious diseases, and strengthening 17+1 cooperation in joint prevention and control of infectious diseases and building a community of epidemic prevention within the framework of 17+1 cooperation.

(3) Work together to build a community of health and strengthen global public health governance. In the era of globalization, the futures of nations are connected. Building a community with share future for mankind is the only right direction for the progress of human society. The epidemic exposed the shortcomings of global public health governance, highlighting the urgency of strengthening the governance system in this field. China will work with the international community to address global public health challenges, actively build "a community of health", support the United Nations and the WHO in playing a central role in responding to public health emergencies and improving the global public health governance mechanism and promote the priority of public health issues on the international agenda, strengthening dialogue and communication among countries, advance major international cooperation projects in the field of health. The international community, especially among the major countries, can establish a notification system for major infectious diseases and a coordination mechanism for emergency response, to improve the rapid response capability for infectious disease prevention and control, and strengthen technical exchanges and cooperation in infectious disease prevention and control, and carry out health and epidemic prevention, as well as joint research and development of pharmaceutical products and equipment. It has been only half a year since I arrived in North Macedonia. I deeply appreciate the long history of this country, the tolerance of its people and the richness of its culture. I will keep at heart every precious support people of North Macedonia have given to the Chinese people in this difficult time. At present, North Macedonia is also facing the risk of an epidemic. We stand ready to provide support and help, to share the troubles with our friends in North Macedonia, and work together to build a community of health.

(4) Work together to build a community of health, and build a mechanism for joint consultation, joint building and joint benefits. As many doctors and experts have said, the coexistence of humans and viruses is the norm, and humans cannot eliminate all viruses. With the deepening of globalization, people are moving ever more globally, and it’s ever easier for virus to spread globally. Frequent population movements have made traditional response mechanism inefficient. To truly build a global community with shared future for mankind, we need to abandon the thinking of putting one’s own interests above those of others, and Cold War mentality, and build a mechanism for joint consultation, joint building and joint benefits. We need to adhere to multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and beggar-thy-neighbor practice as well as politicization of public health issues, jointly prevent "information virus" and "political virus", oppose racial discrimination and xenophobic responses, and strictly prevent the use of epidemics to create panic or terrorist attacks. In the face of the common epidemic threat of human society, we firmly believe there is a way of communication between people's hearts. The international community can completely shake off the shackles of institutional prejudice, overcome ideological gap, jump out of the East and West divisions, and surpass the differences of the North and South, to jointly protect the planet on which we live and build a global village. Although China and North Macedonia are far apart from each other, we can stand firm together in the face of the epidemic. Let the friendship between China and North Macedonia that have lasted for thousands of years be passed down and carried forward in the epidemic prevention and control.

This war against the epidemic reminds people again that we do not know which will come first, tomorrow or accident. No one can be an outsider in this fight against the epidemic. The virus respects no national borders. No country could stay out of it. However, it is important that we fighting the epidemic and make  preparations together. And when the next accident arrives, we can have sufficient resources and means to fight it and minimize its impact to humanity as a whole.

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