Ambassador Lin Lin Special Correspondent
Ebola which first broke out in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone in March, has kept spreading in West Africa and even to countries such as the United States and Spain, and has become “the most severe public health crisis” for the international community in modern history.
In the global battle against Ebola, China has been on the frontline of assistance.
Soon after Ebola first broke out, the Chinese government provided ¥4 million of materials to the four countries in April. On August 7, China announced the second batch of urgent humanitarian assistance of materials worth of ¥30 million. On September 18, during his visit to India, President Xi Jinping announced the third batch of assistance to affected areas and high-risk neighbouring countries including cash transfer, food, materials, the set-up of bio-security labs and observation centres worth of ¥200 million, together with $2 million cash assistance to WHO and African Union respectively.
On October 24, when meeting with President Kikwete of Tanzania who was on a visit to China, President Xi Jinping announced the fourth batch of urgent assistance, including another ¥500 million worth of urgent materials and cash transfer to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and other relevant countries and international organisations.
The number of Chinese medical experts in the epidemic-stricken areas has surpassed 200.
China’s assistance in four batches is the longest-lasting with the biggest intensity in China’s history of responding to global non-traditional security crises, which has the following five salient features:
New: President Xi sent messages of condolences to heads of state of the three countries, and announced the third and fourth batch of assistance himself, which reflects the care of the highest leadership of China to the governments and peoples of epidemic-afflicted countries. It was the first time in history that China used chartered flights to transport materials to those countries at top speed. China also unprecedentedly transferred a mobile lab to Sierra Leone, established and operated a treatment centre in Liberia, as well as deployed whole units of epidemic prevention forces and military medical staff abroad.
Fast: China has been quick in implementing its assistance. At the beginning of August, the epidemic-prevention materials were delivered only one week after the assistance was announced. On October 24, President Xi announced to launch the fourth batch of assistance. The public health experts working for the China-assisted treatment centre in Liberia departed from Beijing the next day, and the chartered plane fully loaded with building materials and medical materials arrived in the capital of Liberia on the morning of October 26. Another two chartered planes arrived in Monrovia three days later. The treatment centre in Liberia is expected to be operational within a month. President Sirleaf of Liberia was deeply touched and amazed by the “China Speed”. She said, “the fact-finding group has just left last week, and the equipment and stuff for the treatment centre is here in Liberia this week. China has honoured her words, acted fast and won esteem of Liberia.”
Practical: In its assistance to Africa, China has always honoured its promises. Its assistance is highly effective and targeted. The epidemic-prevention materials, cash aid, food and mobile labs it provides are the most urgently needed in afflicted areas. China’s assistance accounts for two thirds of total assistance received in Guinea. The epidemic-prevention materials used in the 10 neighbouring countries are almost entirely from China.
Comprehensive: President Xi sent messages of condolences to the heads of state of the three countries. Premier Li Keqianghad telephone conversations with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It demonstrated the political and moral support of the leadership of China for the affected countries and the UN. Not only does China’s material assistance benefit the three most affected countries and the 10 neighbouring countries, China also provided financial assistance to UN, WHO, AU and other international and regional organisations.
Open: China believes that love is boundless and always takes an active and open attitude towards international cooperation to fight the epidemic. Chinese medical teams are working side by side with their colleagues from epidemic-stricken countries and other countries with adequate communication and sharing of experience.
China has actively supported and participated in the international cooperation and coordination with UN and WHO, and cooperated actively with America, France and Britain. The embassies of our four countries in the epidemic-stricken nations have kept close coordination and communication.
Some may wonder why China has done so much in the fight against Ebola? First of all, though China and Africa are geographically far apart, we have always been good friends, good partners and good brothers who have understood, supported and trusted each other through weal and woe. Now our brothers are in trouble, it is China’s duty and responsibility to do whatever we can to help them.
Secondly, the Ebola has become the common enemy of the whole world. It has posed a threat not only to the health and lives of people, but also to the health security of all nations. Helping the affected countries combat the virus is in accordance with the fundamental interests of all peoples. What is more, China is the largest trading partner and source of investment to Africa.
H.E. Mr. Lin Lin is Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe