On September 17, Ambassador Qi Zhenhong published a signed article titled "In the Same COVID Storm, In the Same Cooperation Boat" on The Island and Virakesari. Here is the full text:
Since April this year, South Asia is facing a new round of COVID-19 pandemic, and Sri Lanka has been suffering the most serious impact than ever. In times of adversity, it is even more necessary for people in the same boat to help each other, and more urgently for countries in the region to cooperate sincerely. On April 27th, China established a response mechanism with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh the first time. The foreign ministers of the six countries held a visual conference to discuss joint efforts to fight the pandemic and revive the economy, and achieved important outcomes, including the announcement to establish the China-South Asia Emergency Supplies Reserve and the China-South Asia Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center. In early July, these two important platforms were officially launched in Chongqing and Chengdu of China, and achieved great outcomes quickly. During the past two months, numerous vaccines and medical supplies have been unhinderedly sent to South Asian countries including, which have strongly supported the fight against pandemic in the region. In this process, we further realize that:
Firstly, unity and cooperation is the only correct choice to overcome the pandemic. While facing great pressure on its own pandemic prevention and control, China established and launched the China-South Asia Emergency Supplies Reserve in just 70 days, only was to provide a new and important platform as well as the firmest and strongest support for regional countries to join hands in the fight against the pandemic and emergency cooperation as soon as possible. This fully demonstrates "China's speed" and "China's sincerity" in further promoting cooperation with South Asian countries. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, "The Covid-19 pandemic warned the world in a special form that human beings are a community of shared future, honor and disgrace. No country can be immune to major crises, and unity and cooperation are the correct way for the world."
Secondly, vaccine cooperation is a key weapon to defeat COVID-19. The six foreign ministers have repeatedly emphasized the key role of vaccines in the fight against the pandemic. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also stressed that only vaccines could stop the pandemic. As of early September, China has provided a total of about 120 million doses of vaccines to South Asian countries through various channels. Among them, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal have received 70 million, 22 million, 19 million, and 7.4 million doses respectively, and Pakistan and Bangladesh also have started local vaccine production with China's support. On September 9th, President Xi Jinping announced at the BRICS Summit that on top of the 100 million U.S. dollars donation to COVAX, China will donate an additional 100 million doses of vaccines to fellow developing countries within this year. As a friendly neighbor of China, South Asia will undoubtedly benefit a lot.
Thirdly, focusing on livelihood is a matter of urgent priority. In order to address the prominent challenges facing South Asian countries in the field of poverty reduction and development in the COVID-19 pandemic, China initiated the China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center. The successful launching and operation of the center will play an effective role in gathering strength, pooling resources and promoting experience exchanges, thereby supporting the South Asian countries to improve economy and livelihood. It will promote poverty reduction and eradication, as well as enhance the well-being of the people of the region. The Foreign Ministers have also agreed to deepen Belt and Road cooperation, secure the industrial and supply chains, and strengthen collaboration in poverty reduction, food security and other fields. We will continue to actively put the above-mentioned outcomes into effect, while further enhancing the quality of the cooperation mechanism among us, to expand the areas of cooperation, achieve more visible results and better benefit our people.
This Six Countries FMs' Meeting Mechanism, as a new initiative, is open, inclusive, and mutually beneficial in its nature. Therefore, it always welcomes new members from the region. China hopes and believes that countries of the region will work together to develop, safeguard and fully utilize this mechanism. China firmly stands with the people of South Asia and always provides as much assistance as possible within its capacity. In July, President Xi Jinping in his speech at the APEC Informal Economic Leaders' Retreat promised that China will provide another $3 billion international aid over the next three years to support the COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries. As long as the COVID-19 pandemic is haunting the world, China will not halt its efforts and assistance for global cooperation in defeating the pandemic.
We are delighted to see that under the strong leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and with the joint efforts of its people of all ethnic groups, Sri Lanka has made world-renowned achievements in vaccination. We are also expecting the pandemic situation to improve in following days. China-Sri Lanka cooperation, being important part of China-South Asian cooperation, will certainly benefit from the regional cooperation. The Port City Colombo and the Hambantota Port and Industrial Park have attracted high interests from other South Asian countries including a Maldivian company to build yachts in Hambantota Port. More and more regional cooperative projects will be established in the future. China looks forward to joining hands with Sri Lanka and other regional countries in confronting and overcoming challenges, defeating COVID-19 pandemic and achieving greater and better development in this region.