By Li Bijian
The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for mankind and requires global cooperation to respond. With the development of the pandemic, many countries and regions are in great shortage of medical materials and equipment. As a responsible major country, China has been doing everything in its capacity to provide necessary support to the countries, regions and peoples affected by the pandemic. Government of China took decisive measures to promote the resumption and expansion of production and expedite export of medical supplies to about 200 countries and regions since the pandemic outbreak, making great contribution to the whole world in dealing with COVID-19, reflecting China’s commitment as a major country and the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Because of its efficient actions, China has received lots of appreciation and affirmation from many countries and international organizations. However, with all information mentioned above, some sides still denounce China of not fulfilling its international obligations, which is absolutely against the truth. It is high time to clarify what China has done till now to reveal the fact.
Does China Restrict Medical Materials Export? First, the export channels for pandemic prevention materials are completely unblocked. Relevant departments have been actively supporting in the areas of demands matching, logistics, customs clearance and standard certification to make sure the export proceeding smoothly.
Second, the scale of export of pandemic prevention materials continued to grow. From March 1 to May 25, China has exported anti-pandemic materials to 199 countries and regions through market-based procurement. China Customs has also taken active measures to speed up customs clearance and further improve the level of convenience under the premise of ensuring the export quality of anti-pandemic materials.
Third, China has been strengthening efforts to investigate and deal with violations of laws and regulations. The Ministry of Commerce has been working closely with relevant departments in concluding two announcements respectively on March 31 and April 25, namely Announcement on the Orderly Development of Export of Medical Materials (Announcement No.5) and Announcement on Further Strengthening the Quality Supervision and Control of the Export of pandemic Prevention Materials (Announcement No. 12)(hereinafter referred to as the two announcements), for the purpose of regulating export of pandemic prevention materials and cracking down on counterfeit and shoddy behaviors in accordance with the laws. At present, the situation of pandemic prevention and control in China continues to improve. We are willing to actively deepen international cooperation and strive to provide support and assistance to the international community within our ability.
Are there any quality problems of exporting medical materials? The quality and safety of medical supplies are directly related to people’s lives and health. Chinese government attaches great importance to the export of medical materials, and requires relevant departments to strictly control the quality, maintain the export order, and crack down on counterfeit and shoddy behaviors and implement strict management measures.
Once there are quality problems in the export of medical materials, we will seriously investigate every reported case, punish in accordance with the laws and will never be palliative. Some countries say that medical materials such as masks purchased from China have quality problems.
Actually, such impeachment is not reasonable. For example, the quality standards of Chinese and foreign products are different, and the usage habits varies. Even improper user operations can cause some quality doubts. It is an international practice for importing countries and regions to control the quality of medical materials entering the domestic market. While China takes the initiative and strictly controls the quality of exported products, we also hope that relevant countries and regions choose products from qualified enterprises bearing certification from Chinese regulatory authorities.
It’s also of necessity to fully communicate with Chinese companies in terms of product standards and to carry out the necessary quality inspections at the import stage. The medial materials should be used in strict accordance with the scope of application and operating procedures of products, and non-medical protective products should be prevented from being used for medical purposes. The enterprise shall properly negotiate and resolve related issues arising from procurement and use in accordance with the principle of commercialization.
For the purpose of standardizing the export of medical and pandemic prevention materials, Chinese government has issued detailed regulations for relevant parties to comply with. The two announcements require medical masks should meet Chinese quality standards or foreign quality standards, and require exporters and importers to sign a joint statement confirming the relevant quality standards and the responsibilities of both parties.
The Chinese side regulates the export order of medical materials. For the manufacturers of medical materials such as COVID-19 detection reagents that have obtained foreign standard certification or registration, the Ministry of Commerce entrusts the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products to organize experts to confirm that relevant products can be exported.
The purpose of the two announcements is to strictly control product quality, regulate export order, and better play the important role of medical supplies in the global fight against the pandemic. This is actually the firm action of the Chinese government to support and take initiative as a responsible major country in the global fight against the pandemic.
Is China seeking geo-political influence through foreign aid? China’s foreign aid for the fight against pandemic is a confession to the countries concerned supporting China in pandemic prevention. China widely shares prevention and control experience, provides medical protection materials to the world, and actively dispatches medical teams.
As of early May, through the opening of an pandemic prevention and control online knowledge platform, the 7th edition of the diagnosis and treatment plan and the 6th edition of the prevention and control plan were published. A special fund of 2 billion yuan was set up for anti-pandemic cooperation, and more than 120 webinars with more than 160 countries and international organizations were held.
China has provided medical material assistance to more than 150 countries and international organizations, and sent 21 medical expert groups to 19 countries. China and Europe established a joint expert group, and China and South Korea established a joint defense and joint control cooperation mechanism. China also provided$50 million cash donation to WHO. As an active response to the G20 “Deferred Debt Repayment Initiative for the Poorest Countries”, China agreed to postpone the debt repayment of principal and interest of 77 related developing countries due from May 1 to the end of this year.
The international community generally appreciates China’s support, and believes that China’s actions reflect the spirit of helping each other and sharing weal and woe, and further highlight the importance of building a community of a shared future for mankind.
As the pandemic spreads globally, more and more countries are facing severe tests, and we feel the same. Viruses have no borders. Human beings belong to a community of shared destiny. Therefore, fighting the pandemic requires the international community to work together. Although the situation of prevention and control of the domestic pandemic situation in China continues to improve, the task of prevention and control is still daunting.
While meeting the domestic prevention and control needs, Chinese enterprises have overcome difficulties and many factories have worked overtime to speed up production day by day, and strive to provide as many anti-pandemic materials as possible for global market.
China will further expand international and regional cooperation, share experience in pandemic prevention and control, work together with the international community to combat the pandemic, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. China will continue to provide assistance within its ability to the countries concerned, especially those countries and regions with severe pandemics. China will accelerate the export of more medical supplies needed by the international community, and strictly control the quality and standardize the export order, and make Chinese contributions to jointly responding to the global pandemic.
The writer is Consul General of People’s Republic of China at Karachi.