China-South Asia Friendship Organizations launch initiative to fight the pandemic together
By Xian Jiangnan
People's Daily Online

China-South Asia Friendship Organizations webinar is held on July 13, 2020.

During a webinar on Monday, officials and scholars from friendship organizations of China and seven South Asian countries discussed ways to promote solidarity and pragmatic cooperation between China and South Asia in fighting COVID-19.

Organized by Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the China-South Asia Friendship Organizations webinar is themed “Gather Strength to Combat COVID-19 through Friendship, Promote Common Development through Cooperation”

Acknowledging that China and South Asia are good neighbors with a long-lasting friendship and a shared destiny, participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka spoke highly of China’s general assistance to South Asian countries at this challenging time, calling for strengthened solidarity and further people-to-people contact and friendship on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lin Songtian, President of Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. (Photo provided by CPAFFC)

“Due to the global epidemic, it dawned on the world that all human beings are in a community with a shared future. No country can tackle this alone and no one can be an exception,” shared the President of CPAFFC, Lin Songtian, in his opening remarks, adding that the key to victory is to put people first, put life above everything else and have respect for science.

Lin pledged to establish a closer partnership with friendship organizations from South Asia and to strengthen dialogue on an equal footing for international equity and justice.

South Asia, home to nearly 2 billion people representing 21 percent of the world’s population, is fiercely fighting to save the lives of its people, said Farwa Zafar, Secretary General of All Pakistan-China Friendship Association.

“COVID-19 is indeed ushering in an era of cooperation marked by shared responsibility for a shared future,” she said, pointing out that the BRI corridor, ports and logistics hubs are now being used to provide medical support to partner countries.

These efforts can be further coordinated to develop a “healthy Silk Road” in combination with the “digital Silk Road” to show how technology can harness to mitigate the social and economic fallout of the pandemic, she added.

President of Afghanistan China Friendship Association, Sultan A. Baheen, said the experience of different countries, especially China, acknowledges that quarantine and city lockdowns are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

In his view, friendship associations are of great significance in fighting against the virus through measures such as raising public awareness, mobilizing people and providing aid through volunteers to affected areas.

Founder and Chairman of China-Maldivian Cultural Association, Mohamed Rasheed, stressed the importance to improve the governance system for public health security in view of the weaknesses and deficiencies exposed by COVID-19, appealing for reducing virus-related stigma.

Several media outlets in the region are spreading “false news and disinformation that are extremely detrimental to our solidarity,” Rasheed said, noting that all nations must unite together and use the great advances of science and instinctive compassion to heal.

During the webinar, participants reached a broad consensus on fighting the pandemic, launching a joint initiative titled “Fighting the Pandemic Together for a Beautiful Dream,” emphasizing further practical cooperation between China and South Asia through friendly dialogue.

“In light of the Asia spirit, Asia wisdom and Asia strength, we shall make greater efforts in pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative, to promote win-win cooperation for common development, and to safeguard the regional and world peace and prosperity, as well as to build a community of a shared future for mankind,” the initiative stated.