Foreign diplomats affirm China’s optimization in COVID response, express high anticipation for intl exchanges
Published: Jan 07, 2023 10:19 PM
Passengers walk out of Haikou Meilan International Airport on December 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

Passengers walk out of Haikou Meilan International Airport on December 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

Foreign diplomats affirmed China's COVID prevention measures in protecting people's lives and health for the past three years, thanked its assistance in helping them with the fight of COVID-19 and expressed high anticipation for more international exchanges after the country optimizes its preventions measures, especially the reopening of international borders from January 8.

On Friday, the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held a press conference to provide an update on China's optimization of prevention measures. Ambassadors and senior officials from more than 130 countries attended the conference.

Senior officials from the National Health Commission (NHC) and top epidemiologists offered detailed information on China's epidemic situation during the conference, including on issues relevant to the current epidemic situation, how China has made preparations for infection peaks during the exit wave, the prevention of severe cases and death, the current monitoring on virus variants and sharing of information with the public and the international community.

Some foreign diplomats said the Friday briefing was very important in helping them understand more about China's current move on optimizing prevention measures and they also discussed some topics of their own concern with experts and officials from the health authority.

For example, Carlos Humberto Larrea Dávila, Ambassador of Ecuador to China, said at the conference that China's adjustments on COVID-19 prevention measures are offering great convenience for international exchanges. He also thanked China's assistance on vaccines and goods to Ecuador, which have helped it to control the epidemic and realize economic recovery.

The ambassador also expressed concerns on China's prevention policies on imported goods especially after January 8.

Liang Wannian, head of the expert panel overseeing the national COVID-19 response confirmed that after China downgrades virus controls from Class A to Class B since January 8, policies on imported goods would also be adjusted and detailed information would be released soon.

From January 8, COVID-19 monitoring and testing imposed on all imported cold chain foods will be dropped, China's customs agency said in December 2022.

Liang said optimization of prevention measures doesn't equate to removing all standards especially on personnel on border ports and imported goods. The key work is to strengthen monitoring especially on key groups and goods. Sampling inspection may be conducted.

In response to concerns on virus variants, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that China has started monitoring virus variants since 2020 and is closely monitoring whether new variants may appear after China's policy optimization.

So far, China has reported all information on variants spread in China on international platforms and that means the variants reported are already prevailing globally and more possibly brought into China and transmitted at community level, Wu said. China is paying close attention to variants that may appear in China and will report it once it was spotted, he said.

Aldo Alvarez, Ambassador of El Salvador to China, offered high praise to China's prevention measures, saying that previous measures successfully protect people's lives, especially vulnerable groups, for example the elderly and people with underlying diseases.

Based on scientific judgment on its domestic situation, China has optimized its measures on COVID-19. Alvarez told the Global Times that China's re-opening will encourage more in-and-outbound trips and further boost trade and business exchanges.

In response to the restrictions on Chinese tourists imposed by some countries, Alvarez said that as some Chinese officials said recently that those restrictions seem not based on technical or scientific support, it seems more like a reaction based on some pressure or concerns that have no scientific proof.

"Some of the restrictions are not really accurate response to what is happening in China," said the ambassador, noting that he didn't see any reason to worry about Chinese tourists who plan to travel to his country.

Fredrick P. Malire, Counsellor from the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented global trade and people-to-people exchanges and it is good news for many countries that China has lift prevention measures.

Malire also expressed high anticipation for China's economic development and trade with other countries in the world. The exchanges on personnel between China and Malawi have not stopped even during the pandemic, he said.

Mi Feng, a spokesperson from the China's National Health Commission (NHC), also outlined China's communication with the World Health Organization.

Experts from China's NHC held technical exchanges with the WHO and its office in Beijing on December 9 and December 30 in 2022 and January 5 in 2023. They had deep communications on China's vaccination of vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, China's medical resources and treatment. Chinese experts also explained in details about the current epidemic situation and the spreading virus variants and gene sequence, Mi said.

Chinese experts also outlined treatment for severe cases and how to improve the capability in offering medical services. Such exchanges will continue, Mi added.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has insisted with a responsible attitude of openness and transparency in international anti-virus cooperation, including sharing information and data, sharing the gene sequence of the virus, which have made significant contribution to developments of vaccines and related medicines, Guo Yezhou, vice minister of the IDCPC, said at the press conference.

China has also offered assistance to countries with vaccines and equipment to help with their fight against the epidemic. With the same spirit, China will continue international cooperation and make more efforts in help build a community of shared health, said Mi.