Press conference on March 25, 2020 held by Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China has always argued that the international community should jointly safeguard an open world economy, and ensure the stability of the global supply chain”. This was said by the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geng Shuang, at a press conference on March 25. Geng added: “As we continue to meet domestic demand, we are facilitating the supply of medical supplies to all countries through trade channels. “In our era of globalization, the interests of all countries are closely interrelated, with increased interdependence. The formation and development of global industrial and supply chains are determined by market forces and business decisions. Some people on the American side are trying to artificially cut global industrial and supply chains, or even demand their ‘dissociation’ and ‘displacement’, which goes against the trend of our times and the laws of economics. This attitude is irrational and unrealistic. In the face of the epidemic, such behaviour will not solve the problems facing the United States, but will damage the interests of US companies and the American people”. China, Geng said, “has no restrictions on foreign trade” and “supports and encourages Chinese companies to expand exports in an orderly manner. “In addition to facilitating trade procurement, China has also provided WHO with protective equipment to help other countries in the epidemic response”.
According to the latest figures from the NHC, March 24 saw 491 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China’s mainland, bringing the tally to 73,650.
To help Italy fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has decided to send the third team of medical experts to Italy. The team, organized by the National Health Commission, consists of experts selected by the Fujian Provincial Health Commission. The team left for Italy at noon on March 25.
CCTV: It is announced today that President Xi Jinping will attend the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19. What is China’s expectation for the meeting? What are the initiatives and proposals that China will put forward this time?
Geng Shuang: Currently, Covid-19 is engulfing many parts of the world, endangering the life and health of people in all countries and hitting the world economy pretty hard. The international community expects all parties to work together to combat the pandemic and stabilize the global economy. The G20 is a premier platform for global crisis response and economic cooperation. It played an important role in responding to the 2008 international financial crisis, and the international community looks to the G20 once again for leadership at this critical moment. This virtual summit, the first in the G20 history, presents an important opportunity for world leaders to discuss joint actions.
The virtual summit will be the first major multilateral event that President Xi Jinping attends after the outbreak. Under the direct leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has achieved notable results in the pandemic prevention and control and is now actively supporting other countries in their battles against the pandemic, which has been highly praised by the international community. China expects that this virtual summit will deliver positive messages of pooling consensus and taking actions to strengthen solidarity, work together to counter the pandemic and stabilize economy.
China is ready to work with G20 members for practical outcomes of this summit.
China News Service: You mentioned that the Chinese government is ready to facilitate the commercial procurement of medical supplies by foreign countries from China. Could you give us more details?
Geng Shuang: since the outbreak of Covid-19, China has always maintained that the international community should jointly safeguard an open world economy and ensure the stability of global supply chains and industrial chains. At present, while meeting the domestic demand, we are trying to facilitate the procurement of medical supplies through commercial channels by all countries. We have no restrictions on foreign trade, and we support and encourage enterprises to expand exports in an orderly manner.
As far as I know, buyers from Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Djibouti, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Qatar, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and the UK have signed purchasing contracts with China companies for goods like testing reagents, masks, protective suits and goggles.
In addition to facilitating commercial procurement, China has also provided supplies of protective equipment to the WHO in support of other countries’ epidemic response. After the WHO expressed its wish to buy medical supplies from China to support global anti-epidemic response, Chinese enterprises quickly signed the first batch of supply contracts with the WHO.
I am confident that China’s business community will continue to provide more of such supplies to the international community, and the resumption of work and production and China’s economic development will continue to provide stronger support for the international community’s response to the pandemic. I also believe that it is in the common interests of the international community to make cooperation strong, barriers low and trade unfettered.
RIA Novosti: First, you announced that China sent the third expert team to Italy. How many are on this team? Second, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee confirmed in their statement the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games but no later than the summer of 2021. Do you have any comment?
Geng Shuang: Regarding your first question, I don’t have that specific number at hand but I will come back to you once I have it.
As to the second question, the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games shows the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Japanese government and Tokyo Organizing Committee’s responsible attitude towards the health and safety of athletes, participants and all mankind. It also manifests the IOC’s commitment to the Olympic Movement. China respects this decision and will continue supporting Japan in hosting the Tokyo Games.
Phoenix TV: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview yesterday talked about moving medical equipment supply chain back to the US from China and elsewhere. President Trump also stressed in a daily briefing on coronavirus that the US should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of its own survival. US media reported that the US is preparing an executive order to relocate the supply chain of enterprises. Do you have any comment?
Geng Shuang: I have taken several similar questions recently and I just want to reiterate our position on this issue.
In an era of globalization, the interests of all countries are closely intertwined. The formation and development of global industrial and supply chains are determined by market forces and companies’ choices. As such, it is unrealistic and insensible to try to sever them or even trumpet “shifting” or “decoupling” theories as they run counter to economic law. In the face of the pandemic, such practice will not help solve problems at home. It will only harm the interests of US businesses and people.
China is a leading manufacturer as well as a major producer and exporter of epidemic-related and medical supplies. As the situation is getting better at home, China is gradually resuming its normal socio-economic order. We are providing support to the steady operation of global industrial and supply chains by accelerating resumption of work and production. Chinese businesses are speeding up manufacturing of urgently needed medical supplies for the world. China has pledged assistance to 82 countries, WHO and African Union, and facilitated commercial procurement in China for countries in need, like I said earlier. Our responsible practice has been well recognized by the international community.
To sum up, I want to stress that no country can face the pandemic by going it alone. It’s time for solidarity and cooperation rather than division and decoupling.
Beijing Youth Daily: China released information on several video conferences on Covid-19 recently. Could you give us a number of such meetings? Will there be more?
Geng Shuang: After the outbreak of Covid-19, China has been fighting it with all-out efforts. The most comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures taken have produced positive effects. Thanks to the Chinese people’s arduous efforts, the situation at home keeps trending for the better. China has made tremendous sacrifice in this battle and its efforts are an important contribution to the world as they bought precious time for other countries. We have also gathered valuable experience in this process.
With the pandemic breaking out and spreading in many places across the globe, China, with the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and a responsible attitude towards global public health security and people’s well-being, has been sharing its experience through communication, coordination and cooperation with relevant countries and regional organizations in an open and transparent manner.
As of today, incomplete statistics show that China has held about 20 video conferences for experts with more than 100 countries in Northeast Asia, South Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Pacific as well as international organizations including ASEAN, the EU, the AU, the SCO and the Caribbean Community. The latest conference was held yesterday with over 200 specialists and officials from Nicaragua and 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries having diplomatic ties with China. Exchange through this mechanism has helped countries across the globe.
The Chinese side shared via video link what we have learned about Covid-19, including epidemiological features, prevention and control strategies, clinical diagnosis and treatment, and tracing of close contacts, and offered suggestions to foreign counterparts. Participants all expressed thanks to China and spoke highly of the open, transparent, information-rich and professional meetings, where Chinese experts shared everything within their knowledge that their foreign counterparts can learn from.
As we speak, China is still receiving requests for such conferences from many countries. Competent departments are doing all they can to coordinate arrangements. We will continue close communication and exchange with other parties through video link to help developing countries enhance capacity-building and mount a concerted response to the pandemic for regional and global public health security.
Besides these conferences, China has also released the seventh version of its diagnosis and treatment protocol and sixth of prevention and control protocol. They are a collection of combat experience gathered over the course of more than two months. They represent the wisdom and hard work of tens of thousands of frontline medical personnel in China. With the protocols translated into many foreign languages, we are sharing them with WHO and the international community.
The video conferences and diagnosis and treatment protocols are both examples of how China is contributing to the global response through technical assistance and public goods.
I want to stress that large-scale infectious diseases are major unconventional security threats to mankind. The virus is a common scourge facing all. With our future linked together, countries can only overcome the challenge by standing in solidarity. China will stay committed to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, work together with other countries to defeat the virus through mutual assistance, and contribute our wisdom, experience and prescription to the international community.
Bloomberg News: We are wondering if you had any comment on President Trump’s decision to stop using the term “Chinese virus”?
Geng Shuang: China has made clear its stance on the origin of the virus. We firmly oppose stigmatization on China. This stance has not changed.
The virus knows no borders and ethnicity. It can only be defeated by the concerted efforts of all mankind. Covid-19 has taken footholds and is rapidly spreading in many parts of the world. We hope that the US will work with China and the larger international community to jointly fight against the pandemic and safeguard the global public health security.
Reuters: On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Pompeo said China is still denying the world information it needs to prevent further cases of the coronavirus. What’s your response to this?
Geng Shuang: In recent press conferences, we have repeatedly responded to the US accusations. At a press conference last week, I also detailed how China has kept the US updated on the epidemic by retracing the timeline.
China has always shared information, stayed in communication and cooperated with WHO and countries and regions including the US in an open, transparent and responsible manner, which has been widely praised by the international community.
We urge the US to respect facts and the international public opinion, stop politicizing the pandemic and discrediting China, and focus on getting its own house in order and stemming the spread of the pandemic in its country.