|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 17, 2020|
According to the latest figures from the NHC this morning, March 16 saw 930 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland, bringing the tally to 68,679.
On the afternoon of March 18, Chinese experts and officials from health and customs departments will share information and experience on COVID-19 in a video conference with officials and healthcare specialists from the Africa CDC and over 20 African countries. More updates will be released soon.
Africa is experiencing an increasingly severe situation as there are COVID-19 cases confirmed in many African countries. A number of them have requested assistance from China and expressed readiness to learn from China's experience. China and Africa are good friends, partners and brothers. We have long been supporting and helping each other. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in China, African countries and regional organizations have been voicing and providing support for us through various means. Many African governments, companies and civil organizations donated cash and material supplies to China, which fully demonstrates our brotherly friendship in times of adversity.
Now the situation is getting better in China. While continuing our fight against the disease at home, China will support and help African countries and regional organizations to the best of our ability. We have delivered a batch of testing reagents for African countries via the Africa CDC and emergency supplies to countries affected. Our medical teams are also assisting them in fighting the epidemics on the continent. Chinese companies and civil organizations also provided urgently needed supplies to African countries.
In the next phase, we will continue offering as much help as possible based on African countries' needs. Working with the African side, we will continue implementing our goals in the health sector under the FOCAC framework, improving the capacity of Africa CDC, and enhancing African countries' capabilities to mitigate and contain the disease.
Q: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on March 16 that the White House is preparing an executive order to help shift medical supply chains from China and elsewhere overseas to the United States, which aims at reducing US reliance on foreign drugs. What's your comment?
A: In an era of globalization, the interests of all countries are closely intertwined. The formation and development of global industrial and supply chains are determined by market forces and companies' choices. As such, it is unrealistic and insensible to try to sever them or even trumpet "shifting" or "decoupling" theories.
Such an attempt is by no means the right prescription amid the pandemic, still less a viable way out for domestic problems the US faces. It will only cause greater damage to the innocent American people.
As the world's largest producer of protective suits and medical masks, China is an essential part in the global industrial and supply chains of medical materials. The situation in China is improving, with socio-economic performance coming back at a faster pace and production capacity of medical materials rapidly improving. This provides guarantee for the security and stability of global industrial and supply chains, as well as support for the fight against the pandemic across the world.
We will never forget the sincere assistance and support we received from the international community during the most difficult period. At present, with the pandemic spreading all over the world, countries are facing a shortage of medical supplies for epidemic prevention and control, and hoping to receive aid or purchase materials from China. While making all-out efforts to combat the disease at home, China has provided and is providing much-needed medical supplies to dozens of countries and regional organizations including Pakistan, Laos, Thailand, Iran, the ROK, Japan, Italy and the African Union. We also encourage and support Chinese manufacturers of medical facilities, medicine and protective gear in increasing production to meet the needs of foreign commercial procurement while ensuring domestic supply, which is another contribution to the global fight against the pandemic.
I want to stress once again that at this moment when concerted efforts are needed more than ever, no country can face the pandemic alone. Only by joining hands to overcome difficulties can we rise above the disease at an early date.
Q: Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić said in a televised speech on March 15 that his country could only seek China's help as the EU has placed a ban on exports of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to non-EU states. Serbia has asked China for help. Will China provide aid to Serbia?
A: As comprehensive strategic partners, China and Serbia share unbreakable iron-clad friendship. Supporting each other in times of adversity has always been the defining feature of China-Serbia relations. We will never forget the staunch support the Serbian government and people lent to us in our all-out fight against COVID-19. Now as the Serbian people are also facing the challenge of the pandemic, we will stand firm and fight side by side with them. We will provide protective suits, masks, ventilators and other supplies and send a team of medical experts there to share our experience and practice in diagnosis and treatment.
China and Serbia are good brothers, partners, friends and comrades. Virus respects no borders but brings out the best in human nature. Facing difficulties brought by the pandemic, the mutual support and assistance between China and Serbia is precisely an embodiment of a China-Serbia community with a shared future. China stands ready to work with Serbia and the larger international community to defeat COVID-19 and protect regional and global public health security.
Q: Yesterday in his tweet US President Trump called the coronavirus "Chinese Virus". I wonder if you have any comment?
A: Some US political figures have recently been connecting the coronavirus with China. We express strong indignation and objection to such stigmatization.
The World Health Organization and the international community oppose intentional linkage of the virus and specific countries or regions, which is a form of stigmatization. We urge the US to immediately correct its mistake and stop making unwarranted accusations on China.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and worsens all over the world, the urgent task for the international community is to respond with aggressive and concerted efforts. The US should get its domestic issues handled first, and make constructive efforts in international cooperation to safeguard global public health security.
Q: In a dipnote on the US State Department website, Assistant Secretary Christopher Ford wrote that China's "military-civil fusion" has diverted cutting-edge technologies it acquired through civil, commercial and academic channels to military purposes, which brings a national security challenge and a threat to global security. He asked US private companies and academic institutions to raise awareness against such risks, and called on all countries to build "the coalitions of caution". What is your comment on his words?
A: China notes these comments made by the US official. We strongly deplore and firmly oppose the repeated hyping and slandering against China's military-civilian integration policy.
It is a customary international practice to promote integrated development of military and civilian sectors. The US is no exception. As I know, the US Defense Department and military conduct various cooperation projects with American universities, R&D institutions and private companies. Some American multinational companies are the "military-civil fusion" per se, as their business operations and products cover both ends.
China's military-civilian integration policy is aimed at effectively mobilizing military resources, coordinating economic and social development with national defense development, and benefiting the public with scientific and technological progress. This policy is aboveboard. There is no such a thing as "theft" or "diversion" of foreign technology. Some US officials distorted China's military-civilian integration policy in malicious disregard for facts and seek to place a technological embargo on China under this pretext, thus disrupting and impeding normal economic, trade and technological cooperation between China and other countries. This practice, born out of Cold-War mentality, contravenes the spirit of international cooperation and the trend of the times. It undermines the interests of China, the US and the common interests of all.
As for the US claim that China poses a threat to global security, I'd like to point out that according to a Pew Research Center survey in February last year, 45 percent of the surveyed believe the US poses a grave threat to the world. Recently some US media, experts and scholars stated the idea that the country posing the biggest geopolitical threat to the US is precisely the US itself.
China urges the US to adopt a responsible attitude, stop its malicious accusations and slanders against China, take an objective view on China's military-civilian integration policy, and make more efforts to promote instead of undermining China-US relations and international cooperation.
Q: In their teleconference yesterday, the G7 leaders proposed collective efforts on combating COVID-19. As China is not part of the group, does China hope to participate in their efforts?
A: Not long ago, WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, a challenge faced by all human beings. In an open, transparent and responsible spirit, China will continue sharing know-how and working with the international community in fighting COVID-19.
Days ago I stated China's five major approaches in international response, which I won't repeat here. Faced with the pandemic, we believe the international community should stay united and work in concert for an early victory against the disease and the recovery of the world economy as soon as possible.