Here is the text of an interview with the ambassador of China in Turkmenistan, Sun Weidong:
– Mr. Ambassador, according to foreign media reports, the coronavirus outbreak in China has declined. How did the Chinese people achieve this result in a short time? Could you please tell our readers about the current situation regarding the spread of this dangerous virus in your country and the results achieved in fighting it?
– Since the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 pneumonia, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping closely monitors the sanitary and epidemic situation in the country, attaching paramount importance to the prevention and control of the epidemic, personally directs and gives orders to combat it.
Under his leadership, the Chinese people launched a nation-wide war, a total and barrage battle against the epidemic. For more than 3 months, Xi Jinping has held more than twenty important meetings, six times visited the epicentre of the epidemic – Wuhan city, Zhejiang province, and inspected medical facilities and a residential community, giving instructions on the priority tasks.
By identifying the causative agent of coronavirus and immediately taking comprehensive preventive and control measures, far exceeding the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), China has achieved in a short time milestone results, which won precious time for the global fight against the epidemic.
Today, the sanitary and epidemic situation in China continues to improve. On May 18, 6 new COVID-19 confirmed cases were reported in China: three of them were imported from abroad and three cases of local infection. Less than 100 COVID-19 patients remained in country, without data from Xingang, Aomen and Taiwan. At the same time, production, operations and studies are being resumed in an orderly manner, and efforts to reduce damage from the coronavirus infection are being made.
All this time, China, adhering to the concept of a community of common destiny for mankind, has been actively promoting international cooperation. In this period Chairman Xi Jinping held talks with the WHO Director-General and the leaders of other countries as well as had more than 50 telephone conversations with the leaders of international organisations and different countries, and delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly. All of these have contributed to concerting joint strong efforts to combat the epidemic.
The Government of China demonstrated transparent and responsible attitude; at the earliest time the first genome sequence of the coronavirus has been published, country openly shared with all frankness of combating and helped other states and international organisations in response to coronavirus.
China has donated US$ 50 million to the WHO to improve prevention and control level in some countries. For another two years will provide international assistance in the amount of 2 billion US dollars to countries affected by the epidemic, primarily developing countries, in their fight against coronavirus and the resumption of socio-economic development. Also, our country has aided or is aiding medical supplies as an aid to more than 150 countries and international organisations.
China has sent 21 groups of medical experts to 19 countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Serbia, Cambodia and Venezuela, among others, has held over 120 special teleconferences with more than 160 countries and international organisations. We will keep doing it.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “China deserves gratitude, respect and study for efforts to fight virus outbreak.” I’m sure, we will surely defeat the coronavirus epidemic completely in the end.
– We know that China is actively working on a vaccine against the coronavirus. When it might come out?
– The main role of the vaccine is to interrupt virus transmission. It is the most productive medical method for preventing the epidemic as well as a powerful scientific and technological weapon to eradicate smallpox, plague and other infectious diseases. First priority is given to safety and effectiveness of vaccine, and more stringent requirements are set to it than to conventional drugs.
With the appearance of the coronavirus epidemic, vaccine development in China was included straightaway in the important research projects, its emergency development has been carried in parallel on 5 technology platforms: live attenuated influenza vaccine, recombinant subunit vaccine, inactivated vaccine, adenovirus vector-based vaccine and nucleic acid vaccine. China advocates for international collaboration and concentrated human wisdom, at the earliest time, it published the genome sequence of the coronavirus, thus contributing to the acceleration of vaccine development in different countries. The Chinese companies are working towards developing the vaccines together with the colleagues from Russia, USA, Germany and UK, among others.
Chinese scientists, researchers and experts work day and night, trying their best to keep up with the clock and conduct research in strict compliance with the sequence of animal tests and next 3-phase human trials. To date, the assessment of vaccine effectiveness has been completed, and some vaccines are expected to enter sequential clinical trials.
So, on March 16, a recombinant vaccine against COVID-19, developed by a research group of Chinese specialists, received permission to launch clinical trials. Phase I clinical trials of this vaccine have been completed already, and Phase II clinical trials are currently underway. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine in the world, which has entered Phase II clinical trials.
Moreover, clinical trials on 3 inactivated novel coronavirus pneumonia vaccines have begun. Overall, 4 vaccines have entered clinical trials in country, which enabled China to take the lead in this issue.
Also, the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine production plant with an annual capacity to produce 100 million doses approved for mass production has been built in China. It will meet the needs of both planned vaccination and, if necessary, large-scale emergency production.
According to experts, China’s COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be produced late this year or early next year. I hope that China’s vaccine will bring good news to the people around the world soon and contribute to the victory over the coronavirus.
– It is clear that COVID-19 is a great test for global and national economies. Could you tell us about the impact of the epidemic on China’s economy? Foreign media reported that energy demand in China had decreased due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which has reduced gas imports. Has this situation affected gas supplies from Turkmenistan?
– The epidemic of coronavirus pneumonia is spreading all over the planet; as a result, global economy global economy has slowed down. The coronavirus has hit hard Chinese economy, but it possesses strong flexibility and enormous internal driving forces. The impact of the epidemic will be short-term, external and controllable; the improvement of the country’s economic fundamentals and the long-term trend growth have not changed.
In 70 years of development China firmly occupies the place of the second largest economy in the world; the country created a modern, most comprehensive industrial system; it has a market of larger scale and sufficient consumer ability. When fighting the epidemic, the Chinese side pays great attention to the coordinated promotion of epidemic prevention and control and socio-economic development. The Government of China adopted a number of measures to reduce taxes and fees; it uses a variety of financial instruments to support the resumption of work, production and real economy development as well as accelerates the design and construction of important projects. The Chinese side will enhance regulation and implementation of macroeconomic policies, seeking to achieve its socio-economic development targets for this year.
Due to the epidemic, there is significant drop in energy demand on the world market. An epidemic broke out during Spring Festival holidays in China, and natural gas demand declined. With the aim of preventing the spread of the epidemic after the holidays, the Government of China demanded the delayed or partial resumption of work of companies, factories, etc.
Domestic natural gas demand in China significantly decreased, and the pressure in gas pipelines has been continuously increasing, which jeopardises their safe functioning. In this regard, China had to take temporary emergency measures, including reduction in natural gas production in the country. It was necessary to suspension of reception and shipment of a large amount of liquefied gas and decrease in pipeline gas imports, among others. Under the firm leadership of the Government of China, the coronavirus epidemic in China has been effectively controlled and weakened, natural gas demand is gradually growing, and Chinese companies are putting all their efforts into increasing gas extraction. Despite many objective difficulties, the Chinese side will make every effort to fulfil its plan on natural gas extraction in 2020.
– Turkmenistan has adopted a number of measures to prevent coronavirus cases from being imported on its territory. How do you evaluate these measures of the Government, and how are employees of foreign embassies working in country today?
– President Berdimuhamedov pays great attention to improving the health of the Turkmen people; he held several special meetings personally and took timely complex preventive measures in the first days following the news on the acute infectious pneumonia outbreak in the world. The foreign affairs, healthcare and customs agencies in Turkmenistan by all means prevent the spread of the coronavirus into the country.
With the aim of informing promptly about sanitary and epidemic prevention measures, The Turkmen Foreign Ministry has sent several notes to the diplomatic missions in the country. Currently, there is a favorable situation with the prevention of the epidemic, it is stable and under control.
With the aim of preventing the epidemic from being imported into the country, there are restrictions on the movement of citizens, strengthening of customs clearance and entry controls regime, quarantine and medical monitoring of arrivals from abroad, sanitary and disinfection measures at institutions and etc. We fully understand and respect the measures that Turkmenistan has taken to protect citizens. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Turkmenistan keeps reminding Chinese citizens, who are entering the territory and staying in Turkmenistan, to comply fully with the sanitary requirements of the Turkmen side and demands that the Chinese companies in Turkmenistan conduct sanitary and epidemic activities in strict compliance with the rules and regulations of the Government of Turkmenistan.
On the other hand, the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak has had a strong adverse impact on global trade, and countries are taking intense response measures. Speaking at the online Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that we must quickly and fully restore transport links among countries and regions, transit corridors and look for new routes. The Chinese side is ready to make concerted efforts, enhance exchanges between customs and other bodies to promote two-sided trade.
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the concern shown to foreign diplomats in Turkmenistan. All the employees of our embassy are in good working spirit and condition, and ready to counteract challenges together with the Turkmen people.
Certainly, our major concern today is a joint response to the epidemic. At the beginning of the outbreak, the PRC Embassy in Turkmenistan established a contact mechanism for the prevention and control of the epidemic with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. Our embassy in Turkmenistan informs on daily basis the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan on the prevention practices, the guidelines on diagnosis and treatment protocols for coronavirus pneumonia, etc. as a reference for the Turkmen side. Our Embassy has assisted twice in organising the distant teleconferences on infection prevention and control measures for the experts from healthcare, customs and other agencies of the two countries. Also, the PRC Embassy in Turkmenistan provides active assistance to citizens of the two countries in coping with practical difficulties, instructs the employees of Chinese companies, Chinese teachers and students in Turkmenistan on sanitary and epidemic activities and coordinates the assistance to Turkmen students in China with the relevant authorities of the Chinese side.
– Mr. Ambassador, the Chinese ancient sages taught that there is nothing in the Underworld that cannot be learned from useful and good. What lesson can be learned from the COVID-19 epidemic？
– A virus has no boundaries and that is why it is a common enemy of all mankind, solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapon in the fight against common threats and challenges.
Speaking recently at the online Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19, President Berdimuhamedov said that a pandemic was a global challenge, and an effective response to the pandemic required joint, collective and solidarity actions from the international community. The Chinese side deeply agrees and highly evaluates such position. The emergence of the epidemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia has demonstrated once again that mankind is a community of common destiny who shares joys and sorrows with each other.
Seven years ago, President Xi Jinping put forward an initiative to create a community of common destiny for mankind. This unexpected epidemic, spreading across all continents, made us profoundly aware of the significance and relevance of accelerating the creation of this community.
Throughout the history of human civilization, such a global large-scale emergency happened neither for the first nor for the last time. Engels said, “No huge historical catastrophe is compensated by historical progress.” History shows us that mankind grows and develops when continuously overcoming various diseases and disasters. As soon as countries come together and promote cooperation with all sincerity, mankind, becoming hardened, will grow even stronger.
I firmly believe that globalization remains a trend for general development. It is inevitable and the concept of common destiny for the whole world will deeper roots in the hearts of people, and different countries will take a more resolute and powerful step towards jointly building a Community of Common Destiny for Mankind. /// nCa 22 May 2020