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Friday, May 08, 2020, 14:59
China leads fight against outbreak in Asia Pacific
By Yang Han
Friday, May 08, 2020, 14:59 By Yang Han

Customs officials check medical supplies waiting to be shipping to Japan, including masks and protective suits, at Shenyang Taoxian International Airport in Northeast China's Liaoning province, on March 16, 2020. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

China has been at the forefront of the global fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, sharing its experiences, expertise and donating supplies and equipment to countries around the world.

On May 5, Singapore received a total of 620,000 face masks donated by the Chinese government and the Red Cross Society of China to help the city-state manage the outbreak. COVID-19 infections had risen to 20,198 in Singapore as of May 6, the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.

“As the pandemic continues to threaten lives and livelihoods around the world, international cooperation is crucial in surmounting this common foe,” said Lam Pin Min, Singapore’s senior minister of state of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport, in a statement.

“I am heartened that Singapore and China have been working closely together at all levels to stem the spread of the virus,” said Lam, adding such robust collaboration during this difficult time is testament to the strong friendship between the two countries.

As the pandemic continues to threaten lives and livelihoods around the world, international cooperation is crucial in surmounting this common foe

Lam Pin Min, Singapore’s senior minister of state of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport

ALSO READ: China's response to COVID-19 offer SE Asia lessons to share

On May 4, China donated about 270,000 Fijian dollars (US$119,880) in medical supplies to Fiji. The donation came after an earlier donation of US$300,000 to Fiji from China.

Fijian Minister for Health and Medical Services Ifereimi Waqainabete said the donation will further strengthen Fiji's fight against the virus and also enhance the strong development partnership with China.

“Going forward, this pandemic will only make us stronger and also grant us the ability to share expertise between Fiji and China,” said Waqainabete, as quoted on a government website, expressing his gratitude to China’s assistance in the South Pacific island nation’s fight against COVID-19. The Chinese government has pledged $1.9 million in cash and medical supplies to Fiji and other Pacific Island countries to fight COVID-19, according to the Chinese Embassy in Fiji.

In Japan, the nationwide state of emergency has been extended until the end of May due to the continuous rise of new COVID-19 infections. As of April 28, the Chinese government, friendship organizations and enterprises have donated tens of millions of pieces of medical supplies, including masks and protective gear, as well as testing equipment and kits, according to the Chinese Embassy in Japan.

Japanese State Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Gaku Hashimoto said in early April that China has provided important support to Japan for prevention and control of COVID-19, noting China’s timely sharing of anti-pandemic experience and large provisions of medical supplies. Infectious disease, Hashimoto said, is a common challenge faced by the international community that needs to be jointly dealt with by all countries in solidarity and through cooperation. 

On May 4, a new batch of donations, including medical equipment, reagents and consumables, was donated to a newly-built military hospital laboratory in Myanmar. The lab was also set up with the help from a Chinese medical team, according to Xinhua.

Khin Ma Ma Myo, professor of international relations at the University of Yangon, said the medical supplies and the medical expert team sent by China to Myanmar are vital for the country during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cooperation between Myanmar and China against COVID-19 “brought about positive implications” that will surely strengthen closer bilateral relations, Khin Ma Ma Myo told China Daily, adding that both countries can also cooperate in the post-pandemic era by promoting border trade, human resource development in public healthcare, traditional medicine and medical research. She also hopes to see the return of investments from Chinese small-and-medium companies and the restarting of Chinese-backed factories in Myanmar. 

Chinese enterprises and non-profit organizations are also playing active roles in supporting other nations to contain the outbreak.

In a signed article published on April 29, Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Yu Hong said that according to incomplete statistics, donations from Chinese companies to Brunei amounted to more than US$1.3 million in total.

BGI, a Chinese genome-sequencing company, provided technical support to Brunei in setting up a virology laboratory, in addition to testing kits sent in January.

Yu Wanying, senior researcher at Sungkyun Institute of China Studies at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul said the “assistance from China to the international community showcased the virtue to repay goodwill with greater kindness and the country’s responsibility”, noting the nation cannot stand alone with the virus still not fully under control in the world.

“When lives are facing threats (from COVID-19), the only choice for countries is to stand in solidarity and jointly fight against it,” she said.

As of April 12, China has provided medical supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. It has also facilitated the procurement of medical supplies to many others through commercial channels. 

The face masks donated by Xiamen Airlines to its South Korean captains, as well as pilots registered at Korean Air Pilots Association. (PHOTO / FOR CHINADAILY.COM.CN)

READ MORE: S. Korea 'at war' with virus, India testing six in Agra

Over 80 video conferences for medical experts have been held between China and 153 countries, while fourteen Chinese medical teams were sent to 12 countries, including Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Iraq, Iran and Russia, to share China’s experience in fighting the virus. Free access to online platform The Knowledge Center for China’s Experience in Response to COVID-19 has also been made available globally.

Between March 1 and April 10, China exported 7.12 billion face masks, 55.57 million pieces of protective clothing, 3.59 million infrared thermometers, 20,100 ventilators, and 13.69 million protective goggles.

kelly@chinadailyapac.com

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