Deepening BRICS Cooperation to Combat COVID-19
– Statement by H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, at the Extraordinary Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs
Beijing, 28 April 2020
Good evening. We are meeting at a crucial moment in the world’s battle with COVID-19. Such timing has given Minister Lavrov’s initiative to hold a BRICS Foreign Minister’s Meeting special significance. I wish to thank the Russian side for the tremendous work it has done to put this meeting together.
With its rapid spread in many parts of the world, COVID-19 has put lives and health of people around the world under grave threat, seriously disrupted the flow of people worldwide and the global economy, and posed a severe challenge to us BRICS countries.
First of all, on behalf of the Chinese side, I wish to pay high tribute to the healthcare workers fighting at the front lines and express deep condolences over the lives lost to the virus. My heartfelt sympathies go to all the patients and their families.
We are confident that under the firm stewardship of BRICS leaders, with the united, painstaking efforts of our peoples, and the strong support of the global community, we will overcome the difficulties, and mankind will defeat the virus.
The COVID-19 situation begs questions we all need to ponder. Should we let science and reason prevail or create political divisions, bolster cooperation across borders or isolate ourselves through decoupling, promote multilateral coordination or practice unilateralism? We all need to answer these questions in a way that stands the test of history.
As representatives of major emerging countries with global influence, we BRICS countries must act in the interest of the well-being of humankind, and stand by justice and equity. We must make the right call and do the right thing. This is us living up to our due responsibilities. It is also what our peoples and the global community expect from us. To this end, I wish to propose the following.
First, we should uphold multilateralism and improve global governance. The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 reminds us once again that our interests are closely entwined and so are our futures.
A challenge that respects no border and makes no distinction of ethnicity has only made global governance more important, not less. As we live in the same global village on planet Earth, building a community with a shared future for mankind is a right choice that meets the trend of our times.
People wonder what the world would be like after COVID-19? Some have argued that the world will never be the same again.
China’s strategic assessment is that COVID-19 will not change the theme of the times which remains peace and development; it will not cut short the historical trend toward multi-polarity and globalization, and still less will it deter humankind from its firm pursuit of civilization and progress.
In a time of crisis, we must bear in mind both immediate needs and longer-term objectives and promote both our own interests and global well-being. We must work together to sustain a peaceful and stable international environment and foster brighter prospects for win-win progress.
We must stand firm by multilateralism, by the UN-centered international system, and by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We need to champion the approach of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits in governance, take the lead in advancing global governance reform along the right direction. Through joint efforts, we will safeguard the legitimate rights and interests and space for development not just for ourselves but also for all other emerging market and developing countries.
We need to enhance coordination on macro economic policies, and take well-focused fiscal and monetary measures on both sides of supply and demand in an effort to curb recession, create jobs, protect livelihoods and stabilize the global economy.
We need to sustain coordination in the UN, the G20 and other multilateral frameworks to keep up secure and smooth functioning of global industrial and supply chains, and defend the multilateral trading regime with the WTO as the cornerstone.
We should continue to work for making development the centerpiece of the global macro policy agenda, and expedite the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Second, we should come together in the spirit of partnership to jointly combat COVID-19. Under the personal leadership and direction of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government and people have fought a people’s war against COVID-19. We have acted according to the principle of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, ensuring science-based control and taking targeted measures.
We have all along been open and transparent, and put people’s health and safety front and center.
We reported the infected cases and shared the genetic sequencing of the virus at the earliest possible time. Under the requirement of early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment, we concentrated the best human and material resources on treating patients with severe conditions.
With extraordinary efforts and sacrifices, we stemmed the spread of the virus at home, and curbed its spread to other parts of the world, providing useful experience for global response and boosting confidence in defeating the virus.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. At the toughest moment in our fight against the disease, fellow BRICS countries and the rest of the global community extended valuable support to us. We will never forget such acts of friendship.
As the virus hits more countries around the world, China is doing everything it can to help those in need. We take BRICS countries as our important partners. In spite of substantial demand at home and growing pressures to meet foreign orders, China has provided a large amount of medical supplies to fellow BRICS countries, and facilitated the purchase of such supplies through commercial channels.
We do all these because we highly value our relations with the fellow BRICS countries. As we see it, looking out for each other in trying times is what the BRICS spirit is all about.
Going forward, China is ready to step up the sharing of information and experience with BRICS countries and conduct joint research and development of drugs and vaccines on the basis of respecting each other’s sovereignty and national conditions. Given the close personnel exchanges among us, we should provide equal protection to the foreign nationals, including students, in each other’s countries. I am confident that, by working together in solidarity, we will forge an ironclad shield against the virus.
Third, we should uphold unity and coordination to forge a powerful synergy. President Xi Jinping stated that the virus is a common enemy of humanity and can only be defeated when we all pitch in.
Living in a global village, no one could stay safe when others’ houses catch fire. Likewise, in fighting COVID-19, victory can only be secured when the virus is brought under control in all countries.
The fact that China has been a strong force behind international anti-epidemic cooperation is because our own experience has made us fully empathetic with other peoples suffering from similar difficulties. We understand that only when COVID-19 is uprooted in the global sphere, can the health and safety of the Chinese people be better protected. China’s readiness to help is inspired by humanitarianism; it has no ideological agenda, and is still less driven by selfish geopolitical interests.
As countries battle the disease in light of their own situations, China calls for mutual understanding and respect for these efforts, and sharing and learning from each other’s experience.
Fighting COVID-19 is like putting out fire. Every minute counts when life is at stake. The global community should never be distracted in its collaborative response by finger-pointing or the blame game, still less should we allow new tensions and divisions to be created as a result of politicization or stigmatization.
China welcomes the appeal by UN Secretary-General Guterres for a global ceasefire. We call on all parties in conflict to lay down their weapons and form the biggest possible synergy in a worldwide, united response to COVID-19.
We the BRICS countries must support UN bodies in playing their due roles in fighting COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a central force in coordinating the global response, and is indispensable for helping developing countries, especially our African brothers and sisters, in fighting the disease.
Supporting the WHO helps us save more lives, treat more patients; it enables a more effective response against the virus and is conducive to pooling global strength.
At a crucial moment in humanity’s joint fight against the virus, any attempt to undercut the WHO’s authority and obstruct its role will be most ill-timed and will find no support in the international community.
On top of paying its assessed contributions to the WHO on time and in full, China donated US$20 million to the WHO, and this was followed by another donation of US$30 million announced just a few days ago. Hopefully, most of these funds will be used for addressing the urgent needs of developing countries. We will also provide financial support to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan, and do everything within our capacity to lessen the debt burden on African countries and assist them in boosting anti-epidemic capacity.
In view of the weaknesses and inadequacies exposed during this crisis, we also need to enhance global public health governance, make it a higher priority on the international agenda, and work together to build a community of health for all.
Fourth, we should keep forging ahead with BRICS cooperation. COVID-19 may impact our cooperation in various areas, yet such cooperation should not come to a halt. We must rise to the challenge and turn crisis into opportunity.
China will work with all BRICS members to actively support Russia’s Chairmanship. China also supports Russia’s initiative to formulate a Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025.
We must pay high attention to the booming new forms of business, like teleworking and online shopping, and devise new models of cooperation and discover new potential of cooperation as we develop the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR).
We need to make full use of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to provide sturdy financial support to our economies. The NDB has made good progress in its membership enlargement. We should work toward identifying the first group of new members before the St Petersburg Summit.
We must also continue to enhance people-to-people exchanges to build solid bridges of friendship among our peoples.
Let us work together to make BRICS shine brighter in our joint battle against COVID-19 and embrace a better future in our pursuit of common development.