China Bolsters Global Effort to Combat Coronavirus
Assistance to Italy and Other EU Countries
Chinese and Cuban doctors arrive in Italy to help treat COVID-19
On March 12, a group of nine Chinese aid
professionals arrived in Rome with tons of medical supplies, including
700 ventilators, monitors and defibrillators, as part of China's
efforts to help Italy contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"This evening I wanted to show you the first aid
arrived from China," Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said during
an emotional speech in a Facebook live broadcast, shortly after the
Chinese team's landing. He pointed to his laptop which showed a group
of Chinese nationals coming off the plane.
"These are the specialized medical staff who faced
the coronavirus emergency in China, and at this moment have arrived in
Rome," Di Maio said. "This is what we call solidarity."
Chinese medical team in Padua, Italy, March 18, 2020.
The expert team was organized by China's National
Health Commission and the Red Cross Society. The group is the third
sent abroad by China following previous ones to Iran and Iraq.
Also that week, medical protection supplies
donated by Fosun Foundation of the Shanghai-based Fosun Group, Longfor
Group and Beijing Taikang Yicai Foundation, including 5,500 protective
suits and 40,000 N95 respirator masks, arrived in Milan, Italy.
On March 17, a cargo plane loaded with donated
supplies departed from Hangzhou in eastern China and arrived at Liege
Airport in Belgium. The goods were handed over to the French health
ministry, said the Alibaba Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation in a
press release. On board the plane were also medical goods donated to
other European countries, including Belgium and Slovenia.
Also on March 17, another batch of medical
supplies sent by China arrived in Paris, including protective masks,
surgical masks, protective suits and medical gloves, according to
China's Ambassador to France Lu Shaye.
"At the crucial moment when China waged war
against the epidemic, France provided us with precious support and
assistance," said Lu. "Now as France and the whole of Europe are facing
the serious challenge of the pandemic, China is ready to provide aid as
far as possible."
"This is a gesture that must be appreciated,"
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. "We showed our
solidarity with China by delivering protective equipment, especially to
Wuhan. The Chinese, who are gradually starting to emerge from these
difficulties, have returned this solidarity," Le Drian said.
"We're grateful for China's support," European
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on March 17. "We need
each other's support in times of need."
Chinese medical team in Padua, Italy, March 17, 2020.
Team Sent to Iraq
A seven-member Chinese medical team is in Iraq and
is going all out to help that country fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their activities include advising the government to take stricter
prevention measures, sharing China's treatment experience with their
Iraqi counterparts and promoting pandemic control know-how among
Iraq is in urgent need of nucleic acid test kits,
team members told the Global Times. The dearth of
test kits may have been the reason for fewer confirmed cases in the
country, and therefore the Chinese experts are assisting Iraq in
building a polymerase chain reaction laboratory in Baghdad and donated
50,000 nucleic acid test kits to improve Iraq's diagnostic capability.
The Chinese volunteer medical team was dispatched
by the Red Cross Society of China at the request of the Iraqi Red
Crescent Society, and arrived in Baghdad on March 9.
Beijing Municipality Sends 30 Tons
of Aid to Iran
Chinese delegation meets Iranian medical team in Tehran, March 2, 2020.
Beijing Municipality has sent 30
tons of medical and health care items to Iran in the fight against the
spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Islamic Republic News Agency
reported on March 18.
The donation has been delivered to the capital city of
Tehran by 11 trucks. Thanking China for the measure, Tehran Mayor
Pirouz Hanachi called for mutual cooperation in various areas.
Iran's Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said
on March 18 that there are 17,361 people in Iran infected with COVID-19
of which 1,135 have died.
Azadi tower in Tehran is lit up with the Chinese flag and the
words Stay Strong Wuhan,
Stay Strong China, February 18, 2020.
Serbia Seeks Aid from China Due to Lack of EU
Chinese Ambassador to Serbia, Chen Bo, informed
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on March 17 that Beijing had
approved a donation and decided to send experts to help Serbia fight
the coronavirus pandemic.
President Vučić said Serbia was not yet in the
same crisis as European Union (EU) countries when it comes to the
coronavirus but that it would soon happen. "Serbia now turns its eyes
to China," he added.
"To avoid that worst-case scenario, we need your
help and support. That is why I am asking that you send us anything you
can. Money is not a problem, we need everything, from masks, gloves to
ventilators, literally everything, and most of all we need your
knowledge and people who would be willing to come here and help," Vučić
"All my personal hopes are focused on and
directed toward China and its president," he said, emphasizing that
Serbia was not asking for money.
"We are waiting for our Chinese brothers here.
Without you, it turns out that Europe is having difficulty defending
itself, we do not hide the fact that we cannot [defend ourselves].
Without China and our Chinese brothers, we are incapable of doing so,"
The Chinese ambassador said that "ordinary
citizens" in China had reacted very positively to Vučić's call for
help, and that more than 300 million people had watched a video
recording of his statement.
The first batch of Chinese aid in the struggle
against the novel virus has already arrived in Serbia, and comprises
COVID-19 test kits donated by the Mammoth Foundation, a humanitarian
organization based in Shenzhen.
The aid operation was coordinated by the Chinese
embassy in Belgrade, in collaboration with the Serbian government. The
number of test kits delivered was not specified.
The requested aid from China became all the more
urgent since the European Commission decided to limit exports of
medical equipment outside of the EU.
Vučić further said that he had guaranteed
Serbia's "strong as steel friendship" to the Chinese president.
"European solidarity does not exist. That was a
fairy tale on paper. I have sent a special letter to the only ones who
can help, and that is China...," Vučić said on March 15, the day when
Serbia declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. He said at
the time that governments in Western Europe had pressed Serbia to
change its tender procedures to reduce imports of Chinese goods and
import from Europe instead. But now the same governments do not want to
help Serbia, even in exchange for money, he said.
The EU later issued a statement saying there was
no ban in the EU on the export of medical equipment, masks and
ventilators. Rather, the EU adopted a regime of permits for the sale of
medical equipment to non-EU states which may submit a request to
continue deliveries to the Balkan and other countries outside the union.
On March 17, European Commission Spokesperson Ana
Pisonero said the EU was looking at ways to connect the Western Balkans
with the initiatives taken by the EU in curbing the coronavirus
"Close coordination and cooperation at
the regional level and with the EU are key factors in the response to
this emergency situation. In these difficult times, solidarity is
needed. This is not the time for a polemic or unfounded accusations,"
She added that the EU was looking at how to best
provide support in mitigating the social and economic consequences of
the pandemic, including the possibility of redirecting EU pre-accession
(IPA) funds and flexibility regarding state aid rules.
The Serbian Minister of European Integration,
Jadranka Joksimović, has already sent a letter to the Commission asking
the EU to enable the repurposing of unspent IPA funds, to fight the
"We need to understand that we are pretty alone in
all of this," Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Lončar commented.
The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and
Democrats of the European Parliament also issued a statement calling on
EU authorities not to ignore the western Balkan region in the fight
against the coronavirus.
"[We must] include the Western Balkan countries in
our common European response, and in measures to prevent and combat the
effects of the epidemic," Socialists and Democrats Vice-President Kati
In an interview with Prva TV on March 17, Minister Lončar
said that Serbia had a system in place for 2,000 patients, while
preparations are under way to accept 5,000 more in hospitals
nationwide. According to official data, there are currently 65
confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Serbia, out of a population of 6.96
Chinese medical team sees patients off from temporary hospital in Wuhan.
This article was published in
Volume 50 Number 9 - March 21, 2020
China Bolsters Global Effort to Combat Coronavirus