Bring the East and West Together in Shared Commitment to Multilateralism
– Speech at the 56th Munich Security Conference
H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
Munich, 15 February 2020
Your Excellency Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the 56th Munich Security Conference and join friends old and new.
We attend this year’s MSC at an unusual moment, as my colleagues and I came straight from a battlefront. Under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government is engaged in a vigorous effort to combat the sudden outbreak of a novel virus. The 1.4 billion Chinese people are united as one in fighting this “war without smoke”. We resolve to protect the city of Wuhan, protect Hubei province, and protect every fellow countryman who is struggling with the virus. And we are determined to fight and win this battle.
On the very day of the lunar new year, President Xi Jinping personally chaired a meeting to direct the outbreak response, declaring an all-out war on the epidemic. The government promptly established a national framework of comprehensive, inter-agency response. Premier Li Keqiang went to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, to inspect epidemic control efforts. From the central government to local governments, from urban to rural areas, the whole nation is battling the epidemic with resolve and self-sacrifice. Nothing short of the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough-going measures have been taken.
As many world leaders noted, it is admirable that the Chinese government and people have shown firm resolve in dealing with the epidemic. The high speed and massive scale of China’s response are rarely seen in the world. China’s speed, scale and efficiency all demonstrate the strengths of China’s system.
Wuhan may be the front line in this battle, yet Wuhan is not fighting alone. We Chinese across the country stand firmly with our brothers and sisters in Wuhan and Hubei. Let me highlight a few examples of our united effort.
Scientists and researchers, who have been working day and night, isolated the first virus strain and developed the test reagent in less than seven days. Hailed as heroes in harm’s way, over 20,000 healthcare workers in 100 plus medical teams converged in Hubei, the hardest hit province, from across the nation to support epidemic control. Exemplifying professional dedication, all medical workers are saving and protecting lives around the clock despite the risk of infection and exhaustion from overwork.
Another group of people working around the clock were several thousand engineers and construction workers, who built the two specialized hospitals equipped with 2,500 beds in less than 15 days. Braving freezing weather, community workers leave no stone unturned in checking on every block to make sure that no family in need is left unattended to. Tens of thousands of volunteers are working non-stop to help deliver supplies and assistance to the affected regions. Overseas Chinese around the globe rushed to make donations in cash and kind to help battle the outbreak.
Winter will eventually pass, and spring is sure to come.
China’s rigorous and thorough measures are paying off. As of 14 February, the number of confirmed cases outside Hubei has recorded a 12-day consecutive drop, and the situation in Hubei and Wuhan is being put under more effective containment. This shows that overall, the epidemic is controllable. The number of cured cases exceeded 8,000 as of yesterday. The case fatality rate has been kept at around 2.29 percent nationwide, and 0.55 percent outside Hubei. These facts and figures demonstrate that the disease is largely curable. Just as President Xi Jinping said, we have full confidence, capacity and determination to defeat the epidemic. Dawn is breaking and we are seeing light coming through.
The challenges the outbreak has posed to China’s economic and social development will be temporary and short-lived. With its strong resilience, potential and vitality, the Chinese economy is well positioned to overcome all risks and challenges. The fundamentals sustaining sound economic growth have not changed and will not change.
After the storm comes the rainbow. We are confident that China will emerge stronger from the epidemic. Its pent-up consumer demand and growth potential will be quickly unleashed and China will enjoy more sound and sustainable economic and social development.
The Chinese nation has been through all kinds of trials and tribulations in its history, which forged a national character of perseverance and resilience. Fighting this epidemic will be no exception. It will only make us stronger and more tenacious. Our country will march on in more determined strides to usher in moderate prosperity in all respects, to eradicate absolute poverty, and to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The history of civilization is a history of struggle against disease. Virus respects no borders. That is why we have attached great importance to international health cooperation from the start of the outbreak. In the spirit of openness and transparency, we promptly notified the world about the outbreak and shared the genetic sequence of the virus. We have been working closely with WHO, invited international experts to join our ranks, and provided assistance and facilitation to foreign nationals in China.
To date, confirmed cases outside China account for less than one percent of the world’s total. It means China has effectively curbed the spread of the outbreak beyond our borders. For that, we have made extraordinary efforts and a heavy sacrifice.
That said, China is not fighting alone. The international community has given us valuable moral and material support. This joint fight is strengthening the friendship between the Chinese people and peoples across the world.
Russia, Belarus and the ROK swiftly delivered badly needed medical supplies to Wuhan through chartered flights. Pakistan, our iron-clad brother, sent us virtually all the masks in its stock. At the peak of the outbreak, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia paid a special visit to Beijing to offer his staunch support for China. Through a specially made video, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand conveyed the message that Thailand and China are one family committed to fighting the epidemic together. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka prayed for China at the Abhayarama Temple in Colombo, alongside nearly a million Buddhist believers in his country. Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited a school with a large number of Chinese students and hosted a concert in the Quirinal Palace in support of China’s epidemic response.
In the toughest times of the fight, people around the world are standing firmly by our side. Japanese groups sent assistance supplies to China, attached with ancient Chinese poetic lines: “Fear not the want of armor, for mine is also yours to wear”, conveying a touching message of empathy from a close neighbor. In other parts of the world, Americans from all walks of life donated medical items and supplies; an Indonesian policeman sang the song “Go, Wuhan!”; UK pupils performed a Chinese song “Fill the World with Love”; the Burj Khalifa Tower in the UAE was lit up in red in solidarity with China; and from this city, Bayern Munich sent its best wishes to China.
In the face of danger, Philippe Klein, a French doctor working in Wuhan, did not hesitate to stay and fought alongside the Chinese people. He said he kept a bottle of champagne to be popped open for celebrating the end of the epidemic. Munyaradzi Gurure, a Zimbabwean student who lived in Wuhan for three years, also chose to stay and signed up to be a volunteer.
To date, leaders of more than 160 countries and international organizations have sent letters or messages to express their firm support. Political leaders around the world have spoken in public to cheer for Wuhan and for China.
The Chinese are a grateful nation. We will remember and hold dear every act of support. On behalf of the Chinese government, let me say a heartfelt thank-you to all the countries, international organizations and people who have supported China’s ongoing epidemic control efforts.