Signed Article by H.E. Dr. Xiao Jianguo, Chinese Ambassador to Timor-Leste, published on Suara Timor Lorosae
2021-08-25 16:39
 On August 25 Suara Timor Lorosae carried an article, both in English and Tetun, by Ambassador Dr. Xiao Jianguo entitled "Epidemic Fighting Calls for Solidarity, and Effective Origin-Tracing Depends on Science". The full text is as follows:

The virus knows no borders or races. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world, fighting pandemic in solidarity has become the consensus of most countries, but there are still a few countries that are keen on political games and are trying their best to politicize the pandemic response, stigmatize the virus, and instrumentalize the origin-tracing. By placing politics over science and replacing unity with smearing, they attack other countries, create divisions, impede anti-epidemic cooperation and lead anti-pandemic efforts astray. As a supporter of science-based origin-tracing and a promoter of anti-pandemic cooperation, China firmly opposes this.

China, like other countries, is a victim of the pandemic, and we all hope to find out the origin of the virus and cut off its transmission as early as possible. China has all along taken a scientific attitude as it engages in global cooperation on science-based origin-tracing. China invited World Health Organization experts to China twice for origin-tracing research. In March this year, WHO officially released the WHO-China Joint Report, which provides a science-based conclusion that the pathway of lab leak is extremely unlikely, and sets out important recommendations such as "searching for possible early cases on a global scale" and "studying the possibility of cold-chain transmission of virus". Recently, Chinese experts also took the initiative to submit to WHO China's proposal on the second phase of origin-tracing.

China's position on global origin-tracing is consistent and clear-cut. First, origin-tracing is a matter of science. It should be and can only be left to scientists to identify, through scientific research, the virus's zoonotic source and animal-human transmission routes. No country has the right to put its own political interests above people's lives, nor should a matter of science be politicized for the purpose of slandering and attacking other countries. Second, the findings and recommendations of the WHO-China Joint Report are widely recognized by the international community and scientists, and must be respected and implemented by all parties, including WHO. The future work of global origin-tracing should and must proceed from that basis, instead of reinventing the wheel. Third, China has all along supported and will continue to take part in science-based origin-tracing efforts. What China opposes is politicizing origin-tracing, or origin-tracing that goes against the WHA resolution and disregards the Joint Report. Fourth, the WHO Secretariat should act on the WHA 73.1 Resolution, conduct thorough consultation with member states on the global origin-tracing work plan, including the follow-up mechanism, and fully respect the views of member states. Very importantly, the plan for origin-tracing involving a particular country must be decided through consultation with the country concerned, as it provides the basis for effective cooperation to be conducted.

Contrary to China, some country has not only threatened and coerced the Secretariat of the WHO and international experts by all kinds of means on the sly, but also instructed its intelligence agency in public to carry out origin-tracing investigation. This is disrespect for global scientists and science. More than 70 countries have recently expressed support for the WHO-China Joint Report and opposed politicizing origin-tracing by sending letters to WHO Director-General, and issuing statements or diplomatic notes, etc. More than 30 countries object to or reserve their opinions on the phase 2 work plan of the WHO Secretariat. Over 300 political parties, social organizations and think tanks from 100-plus countries and regions in the world submitted a Joint Statement to the WHO Secretariat, calling on the WHO to conduct COVID-19 origin-tracing objectively and fairly, and firmly opposing the politicization of origin-tracing. In recent times, I myself have exchanged views with people from all walks in Timor Leste on the issue of origin-tracing. The President of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the former President of Timor Leste have all expressed support for science-based origin-tracing, opposed political manipulation, and called for solidarity to fight the pandemic. This fully shows that the voices of justice are in the majority. The politicization of origin-tracing is unpopular, and there is no way out.

Given the ongoing spread and rebound of the virus, the priority remains to be stepping up equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and enhancing solidarity and cooperation. Since the onset of COVID-19, acting on the vision of a global community of health for all, China has shared response experience with other countries in a timely manner, provided anti-pandemic assistance to the world to the best of its ability, and taken the lead in conducting the largest scale global vaccine cooperation, thus making an outstanding contribution to global public health security. China has provided more than 800 million doses of vaccines to more than 100 countries, which is the most of any nation in the world. And over 90 percent of the vaccines provided by China were delivered to Asian, African and Latin American countries. In June this year, when Timor Leste was in urgent need of vaccines, China donated 100000 doses of Sinovac vaccines, which was the largest single batch of vaccine donation received by Timor Leste at that time. China will stand by to provide further anti-epidemic assistance, including vaccines, in accordance with the needs of Timor Leste.

Vaccines are an important weapon for humans to triumph over the virus. However, vaccines are currently distributed quite unequally among countries in the world, resulting in a huge "immunization gap" between countries. In order to better promote anti- pandemic cooperation and ensure the fair distribution of vaccines, China recently held the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation, which adopted the Joint Statement of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation. President Xi Jinping expounded important propositions on furthering of international anti-pandemic cooperation in his written message, indicating that China will remain committed to the idea of building a global community of health for all and to actively promote the international cooperation on vaccines. President Xi Jinping announced in his address that China will strive to provide two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world throughout this year and offer 100 million U.S. dollars to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility, another major move for China to honor its commitment of making vaccines a global public good, and also allow it to make new contribution to the global cooperation against COVID-19.

The pandemic is a common challenge facing the world. As long as there are infections in a country, it is impossible for human to completely defeat the virus. Looking forward, we must accelerate the fair distribution of vaccines, provide vaccines to developing countries, especially the least developed countries, as much as possible, and establish a global anti-pandemic shield as soon as possible. Looking backward, we have to insist on science-based origin-tracing, pinpoint the origin and transmission path of the virus, and take necessary measures to prevent similar epidemics from recurring.

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