China hosts COVID-19 virtual conference

The Chinese government convened a virtual conference on Monday with Pacific Island governments representatives to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and their national response strategies.

The conference was co-chaired by the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang and the Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele.

Participants included Niue's Premier and Foreign Minister Dalton Tagelagi and representatives from Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Chinese government officials.

Progress in the efforts of Pacific nations to contain the coronavirus while safeguarding their citizens’ livelihoods was a top agenda at the virtual conference.

Mr Zeguang emphasised that China will continue to uphold the concept of community with a shared future for mankind and will share its experience in terms of COVID-19 pandemic prevention, control and treatment.

He said Chinese will also provide support and assistance to island countries in need and made a commitment of making China's COVID-19 vaccine a global public good and assist island countries with their own response and economic recoveries.

In the context of regular pandemic prevention and control, the Vice Foreign Minister said they fast trac personnel exchanges and provide "green lanes" for the flow of goods with island countries as well as keep industrial and supply chains stable and open.

Island nations were also informed of China’s recommendations to enhance cooperation with island countries in the fields of vaccine supply, Joint COVID-19 Response Fund, debt service suspension, e-commerce, personnel training and local cooperation as the next stage of their relationship.

Mr Tagelagi and Mr Manele congratulated China on convening the meeting and said they appreciated the assistance offered by China for Niue and other Pacific Island countries' COVID-19 response and work and production resumption.

Representatives of other island countries also said they highly valued China's achievements in pandemic prevention and control and work and production resumption as well as appreciated new cooperation initiatives put forward by China.

They also expressed their willingness to deepen cooperation with China in the fields of COVID-19 response, economy, trade, infrastructure, health, education and tourism, in order to defeat the pandemic and restore the economy at an early date.

All the virtual conference participants then reaffirmed that the pandemic is a common threat to mankind, and its response requires strengthened international cooperation, through organisations such as the World Health Organisation coordinating the global response to COVID-19.

China and the Pacific Island governments representatives also said they are opposed to any acts of politicization or stigmatization associated with the pandemic. 

With both sides agreeing to reinforce coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs, jointly uphold international justice, safeguard multilateralism and the interests of developing countries, and push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides.

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