China pledges $2 Billion to fight the coronavirus; US Senator hits back

President Xi Jinping of China addressing the World Health Assembly on May 18
President Xi Jinping of China © WHO

Addressing the World Health Assembly virtually on May 18, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged 2 billion US dollars to fight the coronavirus. In response, US Senator Ted Cruz hit back with a tweet saying that the amount will be credited to China’s account and that they still owe 9.98 trillion dollars along with compensation for 315,000 lives.

Tension in the air

The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the decision-making body of the WHO, which usually meets in Geneva, but owing to the prevailing COVID-19 situation, this year’s meeting is held virtually. Although virtual, the tension is rather palpable primarily because of two issues. 

Australia had asked for an ‘Inquiry’ into the coronavirus. The demand is backed by multiple nations, including the UK and the EU. Secondly, Taiwan’s inclusion in the group is a demand that has lately gained momentum, and as China considers Taiwan its territory, any action recognising its sovereignty will be considered hostile. While the WHO did not extend an invitation to Taiwan for this meeting and the issue is considered closed for now, it is only closed for now.

What did the Chinese President say?

The Chinese President stressed on the fact that the coronavirus is still raging, and the priority must be to fight the virus and to curb its spread while calling on the international community to step up cooperation on coronavirus treatment and development of the vaccine.

Addressing the Assembly President Ms. Keva Bain, Mr. Jinping supported a ‘Comprehensive review’ of coronavirus ‘after it is brought under control to sum up experiences and to address the deficiencies.’ The Chinese President asked the WHO to conduct the review in an ‘objective and impartial manner.’

China acted with openness, transparency, and responsibility, he said, adding that the country provided information to the World Health Organisation and relevant countries in a timely fashion.

China shared the genome sequence at the earliest possible time, said the President.

Global Supply Chain must be kept stable.

As the calls grow for localisation of manufacturing, China, the manufacturing hub of the world, has immediate concerns. Today, President Xi Jinping, however, expressed concern for the global economy.

Speaking on the issue, Mr. Jinping asked for international macroeconomic policy coordination to be stepped up and to keep the global industrial and supply chain stable to restore the economy.

Assuring that China cares for global health, President Jinping promised to make the vaccine available to all, when they do succeed in making one.

This may not be the last epidemic.

Mr. Jinping called on the WHO to lead the global response while asking the international community to increase funding for the Organisation. (The US had recently halted its funding for the organisation accusing it of being China’s PR agency.)

This may not be the last time a major health emergency comes knocking, and we must strengthen global governance in public health, remarked Mr. Jinping, urging the need for international cooperation and solidarity. That is how the world tackled HIV, Ebola, H1N1, and other epidemics, he sought to remind.

China focuses on the African Union.

The Chinese President noted that the country has done ‘everything in its power to assist other countries in need.’ 

There is a need to provide greater support for Africa, given the ‘weaker healthcare systems,’ President Xi Jinping said, announcing that the country had sent multiple response teams to the African countries to help them deal with the coronavirus.

Adding that over 200 million people in Africa have received medical assistance from China over the previous years, Mr. Jinping vowed to coordinate with African Nations in building a Headquarters for CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention).

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