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President Xi resolute on global community of health

President Xi Jinping pledges to offer international aid to boost developing countries' pandemic response, calling for the world to build a global community of health for all, during his speech by video link in Beijing on Friday to the Global Health Summit. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

President Xi Jinping has pledged more action on building a global community of health for all, as officials and experts hailed China's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as exemplary.

Xi unveiled China's next steps in contributing to the global fight against COVID-19, including a US$3 billion aid package for developing nations and proposals to bolster global equal access to vaccines, at the Global Health Summit on Friday.

Having already supplied 300 million doses of vaccines to the world, China will provide still more to the best of its ability, he announced.

The initiatives and measures unveiled by Xi are more than concrete, and displayed China's firm resolve to work together with different nations to overcome the pandemic, Ma Zhaoxu, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said at a news briefing after the Friday summit.

They will also inject strong momentum into global vaccine cooperation, close the immunization gap among countries and make vaccines truly accessible and affordable public goods to people of different nations, he said.

Liu Yuanli, executive dean of Peking Union Medical College's School of Health Policy and Management, said Xi had delivered a speech filled with love, compassion and the sense of responsibility from a major country.

Liu Yuanli, executive dean of Peking Union Medical College's School of Health Policy and Management, said Xi had delivered a speech filled with love, compassion and the sense of responsibility from a major country

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The president also provided constructive insight on the improvement of global health governance and the building of a global community of health for all, while issuing a serious warning about the rise of vaccine nationalism, he said.

"Contagions respect no borders. There is a tendency for shorter intervals between outbreaks of new epidemics," he said.

The existence of a global community of health for all is undeniable, and closer coordination among the global community would have enabled the containment of the pandemic at an earlier date, he said.

Xi's attendance, via video link from Beijing, at the summit came a year after he unveiled five measures to support global anti-pandemic cooperation at the 73rd World Health Assembly.

The 74th WHA, which is being held virtually from Monday until June 1, would be focusing on ending the pandemic and preventing the next one by building a healthier, safer and fairer world.

Liu said China, while putting in place sound domestic containment measures, has made all-out efforts to help developing nations fight the virus and honor the commitments made by Xi a year ago.

China has sent medical supplies to over 150 countries and 13 international organizations, providing more than 280 billion masks, 3.4 billion protective suits and 4 billion testing kits to the world.

A cooperation mechanism has been established for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 41 African hospitals, and construction on the headquarters of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a project assisted by China, started at the end of last year.

Ivona Ladjevac, head of the Regional Center of One Belt One Road at the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, Serbia, said China's contribution to the global response to the pandemic is "another great sign of what a great country it is".

"Notwithstanding Chinese medical support and teams of experts sent worldwide, China constantly called upon every country of the world to join in this battle, which is the battle for preserving lives and humankind. This is the threat of a new kind and there is no country or man that is immune to it," she said.

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She noted that the vaccines provided by China to Serbia in January made it possible for a mass vaccine rollout, and secured the immunization of 500,000 people.

"China has provided unselfish, professional, moral and material assistance, more than envisaged by the strategic partnership agreement between our countries. Serbia will be forever grateful for that," she said.

Mqabuko Spencer Dube, the deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Zimbabwe to China, said China is not only the leading voice in calling for building a community of global health for all, it is actually walking the walk, as demonstrated by its provision of vaccine assistance to over 80 countries and exporting vaccines at fair and reasonable cost to more than 43 countries.

The latest commitment made by Xi to support the local manufacturing of vaccines is commendable, as it will improve supply and reduce costs, he said.

He noted that Zimbabwe was among the first recipients of Chinese assistance in the form of masks, personal protective equipment and testing kits after the COVID-19 outbreak.

"China also sent medical teams who helped us to establish appropriate anti-pandemic measures and helped to refurbish our medical institutions," he said.

Zimbabwe was also among the first recipients of COVID-19 vaccines from China, with the first 200,000 doses received in February and the second batch arriving in March. In May, the Zimbabwe Defense Forces also received 100,000 doses of vaccines from the People's Liberation Army of China.

"China has indeed fulfilled President Xi's commitment to make the vaccine a global public good," he said.

Dube also hailed China's proactive stance in relieving the debt burdens of African countries amid the fallout of the pandemic.