|Solidarity and Mutual Support|
Ambassador Zhang Zuo’s article titled Solidarity and Mutual Support is published by China Daily today. Here’s the full text:
China and North Macedonia are good friends that respect and treat each other as equals. Despite the differences in population size and national conditions and social systems, the two countries have worked together to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating their shared vision of a community of health for mankind.
The two countries have maintained close high-level exchanges, strengthened economic and trade ties and increased cultural and tourism exchanges. They are working together on the Belt and Road Initiative and have good cooperation within the Cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries ("17+1 Cooperation"), which contribute to transforming the 17+1 circle of cooperation into a circle of friends working together to fight against the pandemic.
When China was hit by the pandemic, the side of North Macedonia expressed its solidarity and support. President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski sent letters of sympathy and support to Chinese leaders. In his letter, President Pendarovski highly appreciated the effective measures taken by China to prevent and control the pandemic, which not only safeguarded the lives and health of the Chinese people, but also made an important contribution to containing the pandemic in other countries in the world, including North Macedonia.
Gjorge Ivanov, former president of North Macedonia, expressed his confidence that under the strong leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, China was fully capable of defeating the pandemic and winning the battle against the virus and China's efforts surely will make outstanding contribution to global public health security.
The Chinese embassy maintained close contact and communication with cabinets of the president and the prime minister of North Macedonia, as well as Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Internal Affairs, and established a regular information communication system, and strengthened coordination to protect the health and safety of citizens of North Macedonia in China, including Macedonian students. The embassy also promptly coordinated with the side of North Macedonia, and made proper arrangements for the return of Chinese engineers to North Macedonia from early February, thus minimizing the adverse impact of the pandemic on the construction of the highway from Kicevo to Ohrid in North Macedonia.
In his reply to President Pendarovski, President Xi emphasized that China stands ready to join hands with North Macedonia to safeguard the regional and global public health security. When the pandemic appeared all over the world, including North Macedonia, President Xi not only directed prevention and control efforts at home, but also attached great importance to anti-pandemic efforts of international community. He advocated the building of a community of health for mankind on multilateral and bilateral occasions, supported the role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. President Xi's efforts demonstrated that solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons in the fight against the pandemic.
Guided by President Xi's vision of a community of health, China shared anti-pandemic information and experience with North Macedonia, and extended help to the best of its capability. China hosted videoconference of"17+1" experts on the COVID-19 prevention and control and the "17+1" Health Ministers videoconference in March and May, at which Minister of Health Venko Filipce and other senior officials of North Macedonia attended respectively. The timely sharing of experience, and prevention and control advice between China and North Macedonia played an important role in rapid response of North Macedonia to the pandemic.
The Chinese central government provided a batch of emergency supplies to North Macedonia in the face of its own daunting task of prevention and control. The Chinese embassy also made donation of funds and supplies. China's supports were well received by the side of North Macedonia. Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani said the whole of North Macedonia and he himself "were deeply touched by China's act of responsibility and solidarity" and expressed thanks to the Chinese government and the Chinese people on his Facebook.
Local governments and sister cities of the two countries also joined hands in fighting against the pandemic. The governments of Sichuan province, Deyang city, Nanchang city in Jiangxi province and Jincheng city in Shanxi province, as well as many enterprises from China, have extended helping hands to North Macedonia. Sichuan Provincial Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine held anti-pandemic videoconference with several European cities, including Stip city of North Macedonia. China's Jincheng city also held an anti-pandemic videoconference with Kratovo.
During the joint fighting against the pandemic, China and North Macedonia are delighted to witness the friendship and mutual understanding between the two peoples have been deepened. A general manager of a company in North Macedonia had bought 50,000 masks at his own expense and sent them to China by express delivery, informing neither the media nor the embassy, which deeply moved the overseas Chinese in North Macedonia. Fejmi Daut, photographer for Honeyland, a well-known documentary of North Macedonia, went to Wuhan, Hubei province, to shoot a themed documentary about people's fight against the pandemic there. He also sent his observation of China's containment efforts back to North Macedonia. Many business and medical experts in North Macedonia attributed China's success in fighting against the pandemic to strong national leadership, high public trust in the government and China's traditional value of "anything involving human life is to be treated with the utmost care".
Meanwhile, the Chinese citizens in North Macedonia have demonstrated strong understanding and support of containment measures of the government of North Macedonia. The Chinese construction company working on Kicevo-Ohrid Highway provided special space for its recently-returned employees to self-isolate. Chinese employees who returned to North Macedonia were exemplary in following the self-isolation requirements of North Macedonia, and won praise and recognition from local people. Other Chinese citizens in North Macedonia have also strictly followed regulations and advices of the government and kept themselves safe and sound without a single case of infection up to now.
A Macedonian saying goes: "Friends in need are better than brothers." The collaboration between China and North Macedonia is a vivid example that best illustrates vision of a community of health for mankind.