Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on May 19, 2020
CCTV: President Xi Jinping delivered a speech via videolink at the opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly yesterday. Could you tell us what messages were sent out to the international community?
Zhao Lijian: Yesterday President Xi Jinping delivered a speech via videolink at the opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly. Championing the vision of building a global community of health for all, President Xi expounded China's response to COVID-19 and put forward a series of important proposals and measures, demonstrating very practical and far-reaching significance in boosting global confidence, promoting international cooperation and outlining future global governance system. Here I'd like to emphasize three points.
First, we need to focus on fighting the pandemic and work together. The global situation remains complex and grave, and fighting the pandemic is a top priority. All countries should put people's lives first and stem the global spread of the virus as soon as possible. China calls on upholding WHO's leadership role. To support WHO is to support international cooperation, to support saving lives and to support multilateralism. We are ready to continue working with the international community to step up support for WHO and strengthen international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 until the final victory is achieved.
Second, we need to assist each other in a humanitarian spirit. With an open, transparent and responsible attitude and the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China takes it as its responsibility to safeguard not just the life and health of its own citizens, but also global public health. At the opening ceremony, China announced five important measures to strengthen global cooperation against COVID-19, including providing US$2 billion of international aid in the next two years, working with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China, establishing a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerating the building of the Africa CDC headquarters, making China's COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment, when available, a global public good, and working with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries. China is also ready to work with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain so that they could tide over the current difficulties, which showcases that China acts responsibly as a major country.
Third, we need to take the long view and prepare for a rainy day. We human beings will eventually prevail over the coronavirus. Yet this may not be the last time a major public health emergency comes unexpectedly. Based on the preconditions of a scientific and professional attitude, WHO-led efforts and the principle of objectivity and impartiality, China supports the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 to sum up experience and address deficiencies after it is brought under control. While containing the virus, countries where conditions permit may reopen businesses and schools in an orderly fashion following WHO's professional recommendations. International macroeconomic policy coordination should be stepped up and the global industrial and supply chains be kept stable and unclogged if we are to restore world economic growth.
At present, the international community is at a critical juncture in the fight against the pandemic. China is ready to continue to work with the international community to support WHO's leadership in the global response, promote solidarity and cooperation among the international community, safeguard planet Earth, our common home, and build a global community of health for all.
The Paper: The European Union, Russia, Japan, India, Brazil and Australia, among over 120 countries, proposed a draft resolution at the WHA. What is China's position on this draft resolution? Is China a co-sponsor?
Zhao Lijian: I stated China's position on this issue yesterday. I want to reiterate that China, along with other parties, has actively participated in the consultations on the draft resolution. The text of the current draft resolution unequivocally affirms and supports WHO's leading role and calls on member states to take necessary measures to prevent discrimination and stigmatization, combat misinformation and disinformation, strengthen cooperation in the development of diagnostic tools, treatment methods, drugs and vaccines, and in discovering the animal sources of the virus, and evaluate the WHO's response to the outbreak at the appropriate moment. All these are in line with China's position and meet the shared aspiration of the overwhelming majority of countries in the international community. In light of these facts, China is a co-sponsor of the above-mentioned draft resolution. We hope it will be adopted at the 73rd WHA by consensus and followed through upon in a comprehensive and accurate manner.
China Daily: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on May 18 that the input of so many parties in the EU-sponsored COVID-19 draft resolution at the WHA is a real signal of the importance of the call for an independent, international review proposed by Australia. It's a win for the international community, and Australia, as a strong and active part of that international community, would certainly see it that way. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: First and foremost, China supports a comprehensive evaluation of global COVID-19 response to sum up experience and address deficiencies after the pandemic is brought under control. This should be led by WHO and conducted in a science-based, professional, objective and impartial manner. China has been consistent and clear about this all along. The draft resolution on COVID-19 being discussed at this year's WHA is consistent with China's position and reflects the widespread consensus of other countries. China, along with other parties, has actively participated in the consultations on the draft resolution and co-sponsored the draft resolution.
Second, the above-mentioned draft resolution is entirely different from what Australia called "independent international review". For example, the draft resolution proposes to initiate at the appropriate moment an evaluation rather than to launch an "independent international review" instantly. This confirms WHO's leading role instead of adopting another mechanism. The draft resolution calls for an evaluation of experience gained and lessons learnt from the WHO-coordinated international health response, rather than an inquiry based on the presumption of guilt targeting any country. We hope Australia will read the text carefully instead of making conclusions based on assumptions.
Lastly, I want to stress that we welcome it if Australia changes its course, completely gives up its political maneuver and returns to the broad consensus of the international community following the relevant WHA resolution.