China, Pacific island countries enhance anti-virus exchanges

By Wan Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/11 23:48:40

Local residents attend the launching ceremony of the China-Aid Project on Juncao and Upland Rice Technology to PNG, in Goroka of the Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.. Photo: Xinhua

China shared its experience and information over the COVID-19 epidemic control with Pacific island countries in a Tuesday video conference, in the wake of a rapid rise in number of confirmed infections around the globe, with observers hailing that such move manifests enhancement of practical cooperation between China and the region.

Despite that there has been no confirmed cases discovered in the Pacific island nations, exchange over the worldwide public health challenge is much needed in the region, and it is exactly what China offers as both a responsible world power, and more importantly, a most experienced and forerunner in the global virus fight, observers said.

More than 100 officials and medical experts participated in the in-depth exchange, including specialists from 10 Pacific island countries—the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, Chinese Foreign Ministry said. 

At the video conference, which lasted for two hours Tuesday afternoon, the Chinese experts talked about pathology, transmission, epidemic evolution, prevention and control as well as clinical treatment, and answered questions on virology, protection for medical personnel, targeted prevention and control, entry inspection and quarantine, therapeutic drugs and research and development of vaccines, Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Geng Shuang said Wednesday. 

"Governments and people of Pacific island countries also expressed support for China's fight against COVID-19 and offered assistance, for which we are very grateful," Geng said on Tuesday's press briefing. 

Vanuatu donated 10 million Vanuatu Vatu ($84,529) to China on February 11. Papua New Guinea's government also held a charity lunch with Chinese ambassadors to raise money for Wuhan on March 4.

Observers also warned that the biased voice of Western media from last year which tarnished China's deepened connection with Pacific island countries as a political strategy to enhance Chinese influence in the region, or even as efforts to squeeze the island of Taiwan's "international space" in the region, should not get in the way at this point, otherwise, it would compromise the effectiveness and timeliness of measures against the virus, which would cost lives.

"China's exchange of epidemic prevention experience with the region might bother some parties who do not wish to see the increase on China's influence in the region, like Australia and the island of Taiwan," Shen Shishun, an Asia-Pacific expert at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"They might continue to play up the so-called China threat theory, but China should keep doing what is right, making it clear that the information and experience exchange is a sharing and pratical cooperation between friends, and it is not about politics," Shen noted. 

According to Geng on Wednesday, officials and experts from Pacific island countries praised China's contribution to global public health security and commended China's experience which has set an exemplary standard for their response.

They also thanked the Chinese side for its initiative in holding the conference, which gave them timely and important help in mounting an effective response at home, Geng said. 

Newspaper headline: China, Pacific Islands forge anti-virus ties

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