BEIJING, May 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — China on Friday announced several new measures to help developing countries tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its sweeping impacts, pledging to contribute $3 billion in the next three years and provide more vaccines.
Addressing the Global Health Summit via video link, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the world’s leading economies to remedy deficiencies, close loopholes and strengthen weak links in fighting “the most serious pandemic in a century.”
The summit was co-hosted by the European Commission and Italy, chair of the Group of 20 (G20) this year.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 165 million, with more than 3.4 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
‘Close the immunization gap’
“A year ago, I proposed that vaccines should be made a global public good,” Xi said. “Today, the problem of uneven vaccination has become more acute.”
More than 1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 80 percent of those were administered in high and upper-middle income countries, with just 0.3 percent of inoculations taking place in low-income countries, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said earlier this month.
China has supplied 300 million doses of vaccines to the world; it has provided free vaccines to more than 80 developing countries in urgent need and exported vaccines to 43 countries, Xi noted, adding that China will provide more vaccines to the best of its ability.
China supports its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production with them, he said.
Reaffirming China’s support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, he said the country “supports the World Trade Organization and other international institutions in making an early decision on this matter.”
He raised a proposal for setting up an international forum on vaccine cooperation to promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
“We must uphold fairness and equity as we strive to close the immunization gap,” Xi stressed. “It is imperative for us to reject vaccine nationalism and find solutions to issues concerning the production capacity and distribution of vaccines, in order to make vaccines more accessible and affordable in developing countries.”
More financial support
China has already provided $2 billion to help with developing countries’ responses to COVID-19; it has sent medical supplies to more than 150 countries and 13 international organizations, providing more than 280 billion masks, 3.4 billion protective suits and four billion testing kits to the world, according to Xi.
“China will provide an additional $3 billion in international aid over the next three years to support COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries,” he announced.
Xi, the leader of the world’s largest developing country, mentioned “developing countries” 11 times in a speech that lasted less than seven minutes, calling on G20 members to do more to help them and address their concerns.
“China is fully implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for Poorest Countries and has so far put off debt repayment exceeding $1.3 billion, the highest deferral amount among G20 members,” he said.
It is essential that G20 members continue to support developing countries by such means as debt suspension and development aid, said the Chinese president.
Xi went further to call for improvement in the global governance system. G20 countries should strengthen and leverage the role of the United Nations and the WHO and improve the global disease prevention and control system, the Chinese president said.
“It is important that we uphold the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, fully heed the views of developing countries, and better reflect their legitimate concerns,” he added.
Xi repeated his call for solidarity and cooperation in fighting COVID-19 and building a global community of health for all.
“The pandemic is yet another reminder that we, humanity, rise and fall together with a shared future,” he said. “We must champion the vision of building a global community of health for all, tide over this trying time through solidarity and cooperation, and firmly reject any attempt to politicize, label or stigmatize the virus.”