by H.E. CAO Xiaolin, Chinese Ambassador to Tonga
The novel coronavirus is still going viral around the world, and vaccines matter so much to the fight against the virus. As long as there are infections in a country, it is impossible for humans to completely defeat the virus. However, globally, there are still outstanding problems such as insufficient vaccine production capacity, inequitable distribution and uneven vaccination. The international society need to work together to fill in the immunization gap between countries.
For this purpose, China hosted the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation virtually not long ago. Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the meeting in a written form. Heads of governments, foreign ministers, health ministers and senior representatives from 23 countries, responsible officials of United Nations, World Health Organization, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, as well as representatives from 29 Chinese and foreign vaccine manufacturers attended the meeting. The meeting adopted the Joint Statement of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation.
President Xi stated in his address that China will remain committed to the idea of building a global community of health for all and actively promote the international cooperation on vaccines, provide vaccines to the world especially developing countries, and promote vaccine production cooperation. China will strive to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world throughout this year, and offer 100 million U.S. dollars to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access(COVAX) facility, in order to distribute more vaccines to developing countries.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who chaired the meeting, said that China has no political purpose in or does not seek any economic interests from its international cooperation in vaccines. And there have never been any political conditions attached to such cooperation. China’s only goal is to make vaccines a global public good and for the people of the world in the real sense. China has donated and is donating vaccines to more than 100 countries, and has exported more than 770 million doses of vaccines to over 60 countries, the most of any nation in the world. China will continue to steadily increase its production capacity, provide more accessible and affordable Chinese vaccines to the world, and meet the needs of developing countries. Meanwhile, China will continue to deepen technology transfer and production capacity cooperation with developing countries, support the WTO in making an early decision on waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines.
The foreign delegates at the meeting spoke highly of China’s active role in international cooperation, call on all parties to uphold solidarity and enhance cooperation, provide vaccines to developing countries, especially the least developed countries (LDCs), as best as they can, support the WHO’s COVAX, do away with “vaccine nationalism”, support the waiver of intellectual property rights on vaccines, further strengthen international cooperation on vaccine production capacity, promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide, and work together to win the pandemic battle at an early date.
As Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, I’m so glad to see that under the strong leadership of the government and with help from all development partners, Tonga remains one of the very few countries in the world that is still COVID-free. The Ministry of Health is steadily rolling out the vaccination and expand the coverage to outer islands, so as to build up a strong immunization barrier against the virus and effectively protect life and health of us all. The successful anti-COVID story of Tonga is not only an outcome of joint scientific efforts by the Tongan government and people, but also a modeling case of international cooperation against COVID-19, especially the vaccine cooperation.
Since the onset of COVID-19, acting on the vision of a global community of health for all, China has shared response experience with the international community in a timely manner, provided anti-COVID assistance to the world to the best of its ability. China has all along taken a scientific attitude as it engages in global cooperation on science-based origin-tracing. China invited WHO experts to China twice for origin-tracing research. WHO officially released the Joint Report by the WHO-China joint study team this March, which provides the most authoritative, professional and science-based conclusions on origin-tracing and sets out detailed recommendations for future work in origin-tracing. China holds that origin-tracing should be conducted on a global scale in the spirit of science, professionalism and objectiveness, as well as in accordance with the WHA resolution 73.1 and on the basis of fully respecting the conclusions made in the Phase I origin-tracing study. No country is entitled to politicize this scientific issue and use it to attack the others.
The virus knows no borders and does not distinguish between races. All countries are victims of it and we all hope to find out the origin of the virus and cut off its transmission as early as possible. It is a common aspiration of people all around the world to ensure the fair distribution of vaccines and conduct origin-tracing in a scientific way. China stands ready to work with all countries including Tonga to promote solidarity and make full use of the platforms, such as the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation and the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation, to enhance international cooperation on vaccines, actively conduct scientific origin-tracing globally, resist political manipulation, jointly safeguard the overall international cooperation against COVID-19, and make contributions to the final triumph over the pandemic.