Fighting COVID-19 pandemic: China firmly supports UN's leading role
By Zhang Jun
China Daily

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN. (Photo: Agencies)

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 poses an enormous threat to life and health and a formidable challenge to global public health security. UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out that this pandemic is the gravest test that the United Nations faces since its foundation. Since the outbreak, China has firmly supported the United Nations in playing a leading role and coordinating international cooperation to fight the virus.

President Xi Jinping had intensive telephone conversations recently with Secretary-General Guterres and leaders of other countries. They exchanged views and reached important consensus on strengthening international cooperation in combating the pandemic. President Xi emphasized that the world is a community with a shared future. In fighting a disease that threatens the people of all countries, solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon. It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity, and work in a collective response to win this battle against a highly dangerous virus. That is China's commitment and China's action.

·China firmly supports the WHO in playing a leading role in the global anti-epidemic cooperation. As a UN specialized agency responsible for public health matters, the WHO plays a crucial role in epidemic response. Under the leadership of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO upholds a science-based, objective and unbiased stance and provides active guidance and assistance to countries around the world, making important contributions to international cooperation against epidemics. China enjoys close communication and cooperation with the WHO, and updates the WHO in an open, transparent and responsible manner. After the outbreak of COVID-19, China immediately reported to the WHO, shared with it and the international community the genetic sequence and China's prevention and treatment experience without reservation. China donated 20 million US dollars to the WHO in support of the global anti-epidemic cooperation. At the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19, President Xi Jinping called for support to the WHO. A joint statement was issued by the Group of 77 and China, commending the WHO's efforts in responding to the epidemic. China echoed the communique adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement, which supports the WHO and Director-General Tedros in performing their duties and opposes the politicization of COVID-19. China firmly opposes any attempt to weaken the WHO, whose role is indispensable at this crucial stage.

·China actively contributes to the Security Council's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the organ with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council faces unprecedented challenges with the outbreak. As President of the Security Council in March, China made strenuous efforts in fulfilling its responsibility amid the impact of COVID-19, devised new working modalities for emergencies with other Council members, and facilitated positive outcomes of the Council's work at a difficult time. Under the Chinese Presidency, the Council for the first time had a thematic discussion on countering terrorism and extremism in Africa and adopted a Presidential Statement. The Council adopted for the first time a resolution on the safety and security of peacekeepers, Resolution 2518. During the last two weeks of March, the Council held VTC meetings on the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question. The Council called on relevant parties to recognize the primacy of life and health, push for cessation of hostilities, reduce negative impact on the humanitarian situation and strengthen the safety and security of peacekeepers. Press elements were issued to highlight the Council's close attention to the impact of the pandemic. On 27 March, I attended a joint briefing with President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the Economic and Social Council Mona Juul and Secretary-General Guterres to inform Member States of the response and work by the principal organs of the United Nations in combating COVID-19, to enhance communication with Member States and maintain the openness and transparency of the Council. On 9 April, the Security Council held a VTC on the COVID-19 pandemic and was briefed by Secretary-General Guterres. The Council issued press elements, making clear its unity in combating the pandemic.

·China strongly supports the UN General Assembly's efforts in responding to the pandemic. The UN General Assembly represents all Member States and is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Being actively engaged in the work of the General Assembly's General Committee, China gave support to the adoption of decision 74/544 for clarifying the way of decision-making by the General Assembly under the pandemic to ensure its normal performance of duties. China and other 187 Member States submitted the draft resolution "Global Solidarity to Fight COVID-19", which reaffirms the commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism, supports the central role of the UN in responding to the outbreak, calls on all countries to follow the WHO recommendations and enhance experience and information sharing, and stresses no tolerance for discrimination, racism and xenophobia of any form. The resolution was adopted by consensus and sent a strong message of strengthening international solidarity in fighting the pandemic.

·China actively responds to the initiatives by Secretary-General António Guterres. China firmly supports the leadership of the Secretary-General in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and attaches great importance to his Appeal for Global Ceasefire. China calls on the parties to support and act on this initiative to buy time for prevention and containment, open up space for cooperation and create conditions for political solutions. China pushed for attention by the Security Council to the situations of countries in armed conflict and the safety of people in conflict zones, and made utmost efforts to help other countries fight COVID-19. China has shown support to more than 130 countries, including all those on the agenda of the Security Council. China provided medical supplies, shared experience, sent expert teams and assisted with commercial procurement. China supports all the other initiatives of the Secretary-General, including the appeal on prevention and redress of violence against women during the epidemic, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan and the United Nations communications response initiative. China and other 135 Member States and Observers made a statement, committing to zero tolerance of domestic violence and ensuring that women are included in all responses and recovery decisions.

·China makes great efforts to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the world economy. In the report "Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19", Secretary-General Guterres pointed out that the pandemic is hitting hard on the world economy, probably causing a global recession and crisis. The world's leading economies should adopt coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy actions. The International Monetary Fund has made a similar appeal. China is fully aware of its important responsibility as the second largest economy and is making every effort to help stabilize and boost the world economy. At the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit, President Xi Jinping called on the parties to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, jointly maintain the stability of the global industrial chain, supply chain and financial markets and promote trade facilitation, charting the course for the global economy to step out of the shadow of the pandemic. On 14 April, at the Special ASEAN Plus Three (10 + 3) Summit on COVID-19, Premier Li Keqiang called for partnership, solidarity and mutual assistance among ASEAN and China, Japan, and South Korea, to work for economic development and an early victory over the pandemic. While consolidating the positive results of pandemic response at home, China is working hard to get people back to work, reduce the impact on the global industrial chain, and ease the shortage of medical supplies in other countries, demonstrating the sense of responsibility of a big country. China is also taking steps to accelerate the development of the digital economy. This has boosted new industries and new business models, such as telemedicine, remote work and education, tapping new impetus for world economic growth.

·China prioritizes development in fighting the pandemic. China subscribes to the view of Secretary-General Guterres that COVID-19 has a far-reaching negative impact on global sustainable development, with stronger impact on vulnerable countries and people, thus the international community needs to better recover from the crisis and fulfill its commitment to implement the 2030 sustainable development agenda, with the goal of a more inclusive and sustainable future. While fighting the outbreak at home, China is making significant contributions to international development. China is working hard to battle poverty despite COVID-19 and to ensure that its poverty eradication targets will be met as scheduled. This will set a good example for the international community in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. China continues to increase cooperation with other developing countries under the framework of South-South cooperation to fight the pandemic, providing materials and technical assistance to its full capacity. The statement on COVID-19 by the Group of 77 and China calls on the international community to pay more attention to the difficulties and challenges faced by developing countries, provide them with equipment, technology and capacity-building assistance, and adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures.

Virus knows no borders or races. No country can wall itself off from its impact. The only way to defeat the virus is to work together. Blame-shifting and scapegoating will not help focus on pandemic response, but only divides the international community and jeopardizes international anti-epidemic cooperation. We firmly oppose such wrong acts as labeling, politicizing and stigmatizing, a position shared by the international community. COVID-19 will not be the last emergency in an era of economic globalization, and mankind will continue to be tested by various traditional and non-traditional security challenges. This global public health emergency has driven home the urgency and imperative of building a community with a shared future for humanity. Through solidarity and mutual assistance, we will prevail over this outbreak and embrace a brighter future for all.

The author, Ambassador Zhang Jun, is the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.