Toward a better tomorrow

COVID-19 is a severe test on humanity's ability to come together against communicable diseases on a global scale. In this strenuous battle, China, Malta, and many other countries across Europe and around the globe have reached out to each other with the help and support needed to tide over this crisis.

Together, we have shown the world the strength and depth of our friendship. China deeply appreciates Malta's valuable support during the most critical phase of China's domestic COVID-19 response. Since the virus started to hit other parts of the world, China has quickly sent anti-epidemic supplies to over 150 countries and international organizations and medical expert teams to 27 nations. We have shared our containment experience and treatment protocols with the world without any reservation.

China has done these out of one simple belief: humanity is a community with a shared future. We are all in this together. At the recent World Health Assembly, President Xi Jinping announced the actions China will take to assist international cooperation against COVID-19. They include:

---- Providing US$2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response in affected countries;

-- 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 COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China a global public good; and

-- Working with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries.

In addition, China has given strong support to WHO's Solidarity Trial for treatment and vaccine. We participated in the international pledging conference on coronavirus global response launched by the EU and some other countries and the Global Vaccine Summit. This is all part of China's effort to build a global community of health for all.

We are pleased to note that the COVID-19 situation is successfully under control in Malta, thanks to the effective government response and public cooperation. Malta's COVID-19 testing rate is among the top in the world. WHO hailed Malta as "an example to follow". We congratulate Malta on its COVID-19 response. We pay high tribute to all the healthcare workers in Malta.

COVID-19 has pushed the world economy into a deep recession. How to recover and emerge from the difficulties quickly is now a top priority for all countries. In China's case, our domestic focus is to pursue economic and social development while maintaining COVID-19 response on an ongoing basis.

At last month's annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Premier Li Keqiang outlined multiple steps to stabilize jobs and protect people's livelihoods. The government is doing its utmost to maintain stability and seek further economic and social progress. This is crucial for meeting China's goal of making the country a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Here in Malta, the government is gradually lifting coronavirus restrictions. It has launched an economic regeneration plan. These steps will prepare Malta well for its economic recovery.

To emerge from the economic crisis, just like dealing with the pandemic, countries need to work together in solidarity. Many Maltese business leaders have told me recently that they look forward to closer collaboration with China on all fronts. Both Maltese and Chinese will benefit. This is also China's hope.

China regards Malta and the entire EU as important partners. Both sides oppose unilateralism and stand for free trade. After COVID-19, China will work with Europe in reopening the economy and keeping the industrial and supply chains stable. We will step up macro-economic policy dialogue and coordination, enhance cooperation on openness and complete the China-EU comprehensive agreement on investment as scheduled. We also look forward to sharing experience on public health and emergency response with Europe and working together on vaccine and treatment research and development. The two sides may also cooperate to support Africa's anti-epidemic efforts.

China and the EU share a commitment to multilateralism. Closer cooperation in multilateral settings such as the United Nations will contribute to world peace and stability, to global public health governance and a more effective global response to the climate challenge.

The Chinese word for crisis consists of two characters, meaning "risk" and "opportunity" respectively. In each crisis lies an opportunity. I am confident that with solidarity and common efforts, the world will overcome the COVID-19 and economic challenges, turn the crisis into an opportunity and usher in a better tomorrow.

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This article was published in the Malta Independent on 18 June, 2020.

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