Catching the world by surprise, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit over 215 countries and regions, affected more than seven billion people and claimed over 400,000 precious lives. The spread of the COVID-19 around the world poses a grave challenge to human society. It seriously threatens the safety and health of the people, strikes a heavy blow to global production and demand, and severely undermines the global economy and social development. This public health crisis is a major test for all countries of the world. It is living proof that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century and that, in this world, we all belong to a community with a shared future.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. At the early stage of this crisis, the people of every walk of life in Bangladesh extended their support in various forms at the critical moment of China's fight against the COVID-19, which demonstrated the profound friendship of the Bangladeshi people toward the Chinese people. In February, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping in an expression of her generosity, sympathy and support to China, where she assured that the people and the government of Bangladesh are with the friendly people and the government of China to overcome the crisis. Such expressions of friendship will always be remembered and cherished by the Chinese side.
Facing this unknown, unexpected, and devastating disease, China launched a resolute battle to prevent and control its spread. The government of China released a White Paper titled Fighting Covid-19: China in Action that details the endeavors of the Chinese people in fighting this tough battle. Making people’s lives and health its first priority, China adopted extensive, stringent, and thorough containment measures, and has for now succeeded in cutting all channels for the transmission of the virus. 1.4 billion Chinese people have exhibited enormous tenacity and solidarity in erecting a defensive rampart that demonstrates their power in the face of such natural disasters.
However, as the pandemic continues ravaging the world, the situation in Bangladesh remains grave. As a true and grateful friend, China grieves for those who have sacrificed their lives in the fight, and rushes to offer its best help. On the evening of 20th May, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke on the phone. The two leaders expressed appreciation for the mutual support between China and Bangladesh both before and during the COVID-19, reaffirmed our common commitment to a coordinated global response to the pandemic, and pledged to further our cooperation in addressing the situation and areas beyond. This conversation demonstrates the firm determination of the two countries to join hands to overcome the current difficulties. And it is of high significance as it laid down the guidelines to advance our joint response in fighting the COVID-19 as well as strengthening our strategic partnership of cooperation in a post-COVID-19 era.
During the conversation, President Xi reaffirmed China's firm support to Bangladesh in fighting COVID-19 and its readiness to help where it can in light of the actual needs of Bangladesh, including sending a medical expert team to Bangladesh. And this very team will arrive in Bangladesh today, with hands-on experience and critical medical supplies for curbing the COVID-19 transmission and treating the patients. It is believed to be the first official foreign medical team in Bangladesh to assist in the fight against the COVID-19. This is also a vivid example of the fine tradition of mutual assistance between Bangladesh and China.
Having forged the idea that the world is a global community of shared future, and believing that it must act as a responsible member, China has fought shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world. On May 18th, President Xi Jinping made a statement at the Virtual Event of the Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, where he mentioned that the history of human civilization is one of fighting diseases and tiding over disasters. The virus does not respect borders. Nor is race or nationality relevant in the face of the disease. Confronted by the ravages of the COVID-19, the international community has not flinched. The people of all countries have tackled the virus head-on. Around the world, people have looked out for each other and pulled together as one. With love and compassion, we have forged extraordinary synergy in the fight against the COVID-19.
And in this event, President Xi also announced that China would provide US$2 billion over two years to help with the COVID-19 response and with the economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries, and would contribute to ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries as a global public good when vaccine development and deployment in China would be available. I believe all these practical measures will benefit Bangladeshi people in the near future. As a responsible major country, China will continue to cooperate with its best ability with the international community to prevail over the global fight against the COVID-19.
Solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons for mankind to defeat the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis facing the mankind, and thus every country shares the same destiny. No country can guarantee its absolute security in public health alone until all countries are safe. The international community, therefore, needs solidarity and cooperation more than ever.
China is ready to continue to work with the international community to support WHO's leadership in the global response, promote solidarity and cooperation among the international community, safeguard the Earth, build a global community with a shared health for all, and win the battle against the virus at an early date.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Bangladesh. As a Chinese proverb goes, “Only friendships built on sincerity can last long.” Over the past 45 years, the two countries have shown mutual respect, understanding, and support in their relationship. Pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of fields has been greatly expanded. The economies of China and Bangladesh are closely linked and highly complementary to each other. There are huge spaces for cooperation in public health, trade, investment, and engineering contracts between the two countries. The cooperation between China and Bangladesh not only benefits the peoples of the two countries but also benefits regional development and stability. China will always be the most reliable partner of Bangladesh and a firm builder and implementer of major infrastructure projects for the Belt and Road connectivity.
Looking ahead, we will work hand in hand with the government of Bangladesh and wider sectors of Bangladesh society to contain the pandemic, to overcome the temporary difficulties, and to jointly write a new chapter of bilateral cooperation. The virus cannot defeat humanity. We will eventually prevail over the stealthy foe.
Li Jiming is the current Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Bangladesh.