Help each other in adversity to build a community of common health for mankind

By Cong Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading all over the world. In today’s era of deep global interconnection, no country can stay immune to the pandemic. Therefore, it is the shared responsibility of the international community to protect the health and well-being of mankind. G20 leaders recently held their first G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit in history, the first ever to discuss the cooperation in dealing with the pandemic.

Canada plays an important role in G20 affairs. During my first post in Canada at the beginning of this century, I had the honor to witness the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting held in Canada. At the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that countries should unite to combat the pandemic and offer assistance to more vulnerable countries. In fact, at the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward significant initiatives on the international community’s cooperation to fight against the disease, including helping developing countries with fragile public health systems to improve their response capabilities, which sparked positive international resonance.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China, upholding the notion of a community with a shared future for mankind, has adopted the most comprehensive, strict and thorough prevention and control measures to control the spread of the pandemic in the country, which has not only protected the lives and health of its people but also won precious time for the world’s fight against the virus. China has actively shared epidemic information and anti-epidemic experience with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries and held expert video conferences with more than 150 countries including Canada and international organizations including Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), European Union (EU), African Union (AU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and Caribbean Community (CARICOM). China has also been actively cooperating with other countries, including Canada, to carry out epidemic-related scientific research.

The Chinese people have always advocated mutual help in adversity and reciprocation for kindness. At the most challenging moment in our fight against the outbreak, China received assistance and help from many members of the global community. Such expressions of friendship will always be remembered and cherished by the Chinese people. The Chinese side feels the same way when other countries suffer from the disease. Despite the still arduous prevention and control tasks at home, the Chinese side actively provides support to other countries. The Chinese government has provided or is providing emergency assistance to 130 countries and international and regional organizations, including WHO and the AU, and has been delivering the medical supplies successively. China is prepared to deliver aid to Canada. The Chinese government has also donated $ 20 million USD to the WHO. China’s local governments, enterprises, and non-governmental organizations also extend a helping hand to countries severely suffering from the epidemic. China has also sent teams of medical experts on the COVID-19 pandemic other countries, including Italy, Iraq, Serbia, etc.

At the critical moment of the fight against the disease in various countries, a handful of politicians in some countries insisted on calling the novel coronavirus “Chinese Virus” and “Wuhan Virus” for ulterior motives, to which the Chinese side is firmly opposed. The source of novel coronavirus is a complex scientific issue, which should rely on professional views from the science community. WHO is explicitly opposed to linking any virus with specific countries and regions, which is also a broad consensus of the international community. It is for this reason that WHO named this virus “COVID-19”. Facts have shown that stigmatization cannot stop the spread of the virus, but will only aggravate racial discrimination, xenophobia, and even lead to violent crime. This “political virus” is just as harmful as the novel coronavirus.

Some people accused China of concealing information about the outbreak and making data opaque. Such claims are groundless. The Chinese side has kept the international community updated on the pandemic in the spirit of openness, transparency, and responsibility. The timeline for the Chinese side's handling of the pandemic is very clear.

On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, Director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine of Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese & Western Medicine, first reported three suspicious cases she received. On December 29, relevant centers for disease control and prevention and hospitals in Wuhan and other parts of Hubei conducted an epidemiological survey. On December 30, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued an “urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause”. On December 31, the expert team of the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China arrived in Wuhan to conduct an on-site investigation. On January 3, the Chinese side began to inform the international community of epidemic information. On January 8, the pathogen of the epidemic was preliminarily determined. On January 11, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded five novel coronavirus genome sequences to the website and shared data with the world and WHO. On January 23, the Chinese government closed passages leaving Wuhan. The above measures from the Chinese side sent a clear message to the outside world.

The history of human civilization is also a history of struggle against disease. The new coronavirus is neither the first pandemic nor will it be the last. In the face of the pandemic, mankind shares a shared destiny, and countries around the globe should abandon prejudice, stop finger-pointing, set aside differences, work together to overcome difficulties, and build a community of common health for mankind. I am convinced that mankind will defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.