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Speech by H.E. Ambassador Cao Xiaolin at the Handover Ceremony of the Medical Aid from China to Tonga

Honorable Amelia Tu'ipulotu, Minister of Health,

Dr. Siale 'Aka'ola, Chief Executive Officer for Health

Friends from the Ministry of Health,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm so happy to attend the handover ceremony of the medical supplies assisted by China to Tonga with the Hon. Minister of Health Amelia Tu'ipulotu.

The Virtual Event of the 73rd Session of the World Health Assembly(WHA) was held yesterday. It is of significant importance for this WHA to be held at such a critical moment as the human race battles this novel coronavirus.

H.E.Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, made a statement at the Opening of the 73rd session of the WHA.

In his statement, President Xi emphasized 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.

He made proposals for the global fight against COVID-19: First, we must do everything we can for COVID-19 control and treatment. Second, the World Health Organization should lead the global response. Third, we must provide greater support for Africa. Fourth, we must strengthen global governance in the area of public health. Fifth, we must restore economic and social development. Sixth, we must strengthen international cooperation.

President Xi pointed out that mankind is a community with a shared future. Solidarity and cooperation is our most powerful weapon for defeating the virus. This is the key lesson the world has learned from fighting HIV/AIDS, Ebola, avian influenza, influenza A (H1N1) and other major epidemics. And solidarity and cooperation is a sure way through which we, the people of the world, can defeat this novel coronavirus.

President Xi announced the following concrete measures that China will help boost the global fight against COVID-19:

I. China will provide US$2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries.

II. China will work with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China, ensure the operation of anti-epidemic supply chains and foster "green corridors" for fast-track transportation and customs clearance.

III. China will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity.

IV. COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.

V. China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries. China is also ready to work with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain of debt service, so that they could tide over the current difficulties.

The above is some of the contents of the Statement made by President Xi at the Opening of the 73rd WHA that I would like to share with my Tongan colleagues. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank HM Government for adhering to one China principle and supporting China's position on the Taiwan question in multilateral affairs including the WHA. Tonga's support is much appreciated by China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and Tonga are good brothers and sisters who always help and take good care of each other. At the most difficult moment in our fight against COVID-19, China received heart-warming help and support from Tonga. His Majesty King Tupou VI, HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita, Hon. PM Tu'i'onetoa, Hon. Speaker Fakafanua, Hon. Minister Tu'ipulotu, Hon. Minister Vaipulu, and the people from all walks of life supported the Chinese government and the Chinese people in the form of letters, video clips, warm words, donations, etc. The invaluable support from Tonga has given enormous strength to China to defeat the virus. Such profound friendship will always be remembered and cherished by the Chinese people.

As Tonga responds to the global pandemic, our hearts go out to our Tongan brothers and sisters. China reciprocates the kindness and stretch our helping hands to Tonga. We concern what our Tongan friends concern, and put ourselves into your shoes. We gathered medical supplies through various channels at very short time.

The supplies include 100 pieces of infrared thermometers, 500 units of diagnostic kits, 2700 pieces of medical disposable protective garments, 1000 pieces of medical isolation shoe covers, 2000 pieces of disposable sterilized rubber surgical gloves, 1000 pieces of medical disposable face shields, 1500 pieces of medical protective goggles, 74700 pieces of various face masks and 260 units of hand sanitizer gels. The medical supplies today are part of the above-mentioned supplies. The others will arrive in Tonga sometime in the near future.

During the collection and transportation process, both the Chinese government and the Tongan government as well as the Pacific-China Friendship Association and the French Polynesia government have maintained frequent communication and coordination, overcome a lot of difficulties and finally facilitated the arrival of the medical supplies. I believe the supplies, with love and friendship from China, will help meet Tonga's urgent quarantine needs, and assist the Tongan medical staff and the Tongan people fighting the Pandemic.

Apart from the above-mentioned supplies, China and Tonga have also conducted many fruitful cooperation in the battle against COVID-19. China donated US$250,000 in cash in the name of China-Pacific Island Countries Joint COVID-19 Response Fund. The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Mr. Zheng Zeguang convened a Vice-Ministers' Special Meeting on COVID-19 with his counterparts from Tonga and the other Pacific Island Countries. I had frequent in-depth discussions with Hon. Prime Minister, Minister of Health, the CEO of Ministry of Health, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs as well as other Ministers and senior officials, on how to effectively prevent and control COVID-19 given the current medical conditions in Tonga. The Chinese medical experts held an online video meeting and shared first-hand experience with health officials and experts from pacific island countries, including Tonga. The Chinese companies and local Chinese community also made active and generous donations. Our support is sincere and from the bottom of our hearts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the outbreak of the Pandemic, the Chinese government has acted in an open, transparent and responsible manner under the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. China has provided timely updates to the WHO and the relevant countries and regions, released the genome sequencing of the virus at the earliest opportunity, shared the control and treatment experience with the WHO and the rest of the world without reservation, and actively engaged in international cooperation to jointly cope with this common threat and challenge.

China is not only resolved to honor its commitment to the safety and health of its own people, but also actively make contributions to the cause of global public health. The Chinese strength, spirit and efficiency demonstrated by the Chinese people and China's role as a responsible major country have been highly commended by the international community.

I would like to say that, in a crisis like this, complaining, finger-pointing or scapegoating is not the way to get countries to focus on their battle against the Pandemic. A few media and politicians in a small number of Western countries have tried to label the virus as Wuhan Virus or China Virus, and stigmatize China. It is clear that they have their ulterior motives, but their attempts are doomed to failure. I hope that our Tongan friends and the Tongan media will adhere to science and reason, stick to facts and truth on the virus, and will not be misled by such rumors and ill-intentioned labeling.

It is true that COVID-19 is a such complex virus that the whole world is fighting a war against it, which we haven't seen in history. The virus has become the common enemy of mankind.

However, every black cloud has a silver lining. What we found a bit relieved is that through the formidable endeavor of the Chinese government and Chinese people, major breakthroughs have been achieved in our fight against COVID-19, with the domestic transmission almost blocked. The resumption of work and production is expedited. People's lives and welfare are well guaranteed, and the social and economic order is stable and harmonious.

In the mean time, under the strong leadership of the Tongan government and with full support from the Tongan people, Tonga's response to the Pandemic has also achieved notable results, which has made Tonga one of the few countries that are COVID-19 free now.

China and Tonga's fights against COVID-19 have become fine examples for international community in combating this virus. This also fully demonstrates that COVID-19 is controllable and can be defeated through comprehensive measures, proactive prevention and control, and scientific treatment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The cooperation between China and Tonga against COVID-19 has enriched our comprehensive strategic partnership of mutual respect and common development, and it is a telling testament to our deep friendship. As COVID-19 is still a global challenge, it is fortunate that the Tongan government and people have already learned and accumulated very effective prevention and control methods.

I'm confident that under the strong leadership of the Tongan government, the Tongan people will be able to withstand the pandemic. China stands ready to strengthen mutual trust, enhance coordination and make concerted efforts with Tonga to pull through the current difficult time, especially, China wishes to work with Tonga to implement the concrete measures proposed by President Xi at the 73rd session of the WHA so that our cooperation in the field of health will benefit more Tongan people.

I have every reason to say that we will win this battle against the pandemic. Our cooperation will be much stronger, and our friendship will be much closer in the future.

Thank you!

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