Here is the transcript of our interview with Sun Weidong, the ambassador of China to Turkmenistan:
Question: Mr. Ambassador, since the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease, you have given a number of interviews to the correspondents of various media agencies or published the articles, which let us learn about the determination of the Chinese people to fight against the epidemic and the tremendous success achieved. Could you please tell us today about the current epidemic situation in China?
Answer: The epidemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia has become the most challenging public health emergency that is characterised by the fastest pace of spread, the widest extent of infection and the greatest difficulties in implementing preventive and control measures. China identified the pathogen in a record-short time; at the earliest time, it took the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough preventive and control measures, going far beyond the World Health Organization (WHO) sanitation and health standards, which contributed to achieving important milestone results in the shortest period of time, and China became one of the first countries to bring successfully the epidemic under effective control. The WHO gave a high evaluation and stated that China had set a new example for outbreak response and gained time to prevent and control the epidemic worldwide.
Currently, the epidemic situation in China continues to improve. At the same time, scientists from different countries do not have enough knowledge about coronavirus, and its origins have not yet been identified; the prevention and control of the epidemic should not be taken thoughtlessly; there remain difficult tasks of maintaining the results achieved and avoiding a second wave of the epidemic. On June 10, the number of confirmed cases in mainland China decreased to less than 70, and there were no patients in critical condition. It was not until June 11, when no locally acquired coronavirus infections in Beijing were reported for more than 50 days, that locally acquired infections were confirmed. On June 21 a total of 236 new confirmed cases in Beijing have been reported, however the number of daily new confirmed cases dropped to 9 from 36 at the peak, and the epidemic in Beijing was immediately taken under control. Since May, the resumption of production and work is nearing or has reached normal levels, and the socio-economic order is gradually being restored.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Chinese side has been adhering to the concept of a community of common destiny for mankind and actively promoting international anti-epidemic cooperation. At the earliest time, our country reported cases of infection to the WHO, at the earliest time it shared the viral genome sequences, at the earliest time it began international cooperation with experts in endemic prevention and control and launched the largest international humanitarian campaign since the founding of the PRC. To date, China has donated US$50 million to the WHO to build prevention and control capacity of the countries concerned. For 2 years, it will provide international assistance worth US$2 billion to support countries affected by the epidemic, particularly developing countries, in their fight against coronavirus and socio-economic recovery.
So far, about 150 countries and 4 international organisations have received China’s assistance, which helped to address the urgent needs. The thematic teleconferences have been held for more than 170 countries, involving the Chinese experts in sanitary and epidemiology, who, with all frankness, shared their proven experience and best practices in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of the epidemic. 26 medical groups have been sent for face-to-face exchange and discussion to 24 countries that are urgently needing help. In the future, the Chinese side will continue to provide assistance.
Question: When fighting against the epidemic, China is applying many innovative high technologies and significantly increasing the effectiveness of prevention and control measures, which is of great interest to governments and peoples of many countries. Could you please share more details with us?
Answer: China is making full use of big data, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies in analysis to predict the trend of COVID-19 development. These tools are also used in epidemiological investigations to find each infected person and track each of his close contacts so that they can be placed under quarantine. In accordance with the law, a database has been set up to provide data services for virus risk control, precisely identify different groups at risk, predict risk factors in different areas as well as facilitate the orderly movement of people and the resumption of production activity. The research teams of epidemiologists in remote mountainous areas located thousands of kilometres away are able to engage via online platforms based on 5G technology in real-time discussions with leading experts.
With the aim of authorising citizens’ health QR codes, generated through the use of a mobile application (save and identify personal health data and information on the place of residence, travel history and presence/absence of contacts with confirmed or suspected infection cases), were introduced and digital travel records (the mobile application that records the travel history of the QR code holder inside the country and abroad within the past 14 days) are used as permits to make trips, go to school or work, visit certain public places and meet other daily needs.
Using big data technology, an electronic “epidemic map” that shows the locations with confirmed cases and the number of infected persons, providing the specific names and addresses of residential communities in order to make it easier for the people to protect themselves from infection has been created.
Moreover, an intelligent measuring system can measure the temperature of a large number of moving people. An auxiliary diagnostic tool that can make a diagnosis in 3 seconds has been developed urgently to study the images of the lungs infected with coronavirus, which provides data to support the analysis and prediction of the trend of epidemic development, adopt prevention and control measures, track population movement and make a clinical diagnosis. Intelligent robots spray disinfectants, distribute drugs and foods and also measure and analyse the patient’s health indicators. Unmanned aerial vehicles are widely used in surveillance and inspection, audio anti-epidemic propaganda and disinfection. Non-contact methods partially replace traditional manual labour and significantly reduce the risk of cross-infection through contacts between people.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, intelligent diagnostic systems and other technologies as an important component of China’s experience in the fight against the epidemic have been introduced to prevent and control the epidemic in many countries. I firmly believe that they will continue to contribute to the global battle against the epidemic.
Question: Traditional Chinese medicine has significant effects on the treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia. Please give us more details.
Answer: Traditional Chinese medicine and its products are the property of ancient Chinese science that combines the functions of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They are rooted in the distant past and distinguished by their extensiveness and depth. In 2015, a Chinese scientist Youyou Tu received a Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering artemisinin, an antimalarial drug of traditional Chinese medicine.
According to incomplete statistics of the WHO, artemisinin has saved millions of lives around the world and heals thousands of millions of patients every year. In recent years, the traditional Chinese medicinal products have been producing significant positive effects on the treatment for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1 flu and other infectious diseases.
Traditional Chinese medicine drugs are administered unprecedentedly widely to prevent and control novel coronavirus pneumonia. In total, 92% of patients with coronavirus pneumonia in China were treated using the traditional Chinese medicine techniques, and it gave a positive result in 90% of cases.
A diagnosis and treatment protocol for coronavirus pneumonia using traditional Chinese medicine was developed, and a Chinese version to combat COVID-19, combining the practices of Western and Chinese medical schools, was developed. Three formulas and three products of traditional Chinese medicine were selected and shown good clinical effects, reduced morbidity and mortality, prevented disease progression, improved the efficacy of treatment and sped the recovery time of patients.
China has donated traditional Chinese medicinal products to a number of countries and regions where the confirmed cases are reported. The groups of traditional Chinese medicine experts were sent overseas to support the fight against the epidemic. The latest diagnostic and treatment protocol using traditional Chinese medicine was translated into the English language as a reference for all countries. We firmly believe that traditional Chinese medicine was, remains and will be an important weapon in the fight of mankind against the epidemic.
In Turkmenistan, the studies of traditional medicine have a long history; in particular, the methods of treatment using medicinal plants are widely popular and are highly evaluated by the people. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wrote 11 volumes of the book Medicinal Plants of Turkmenistan that is of great value as a medical reference book. The first volume of this book was translated into the Chinese language and published in China. Mr. President recommended fumigation by harmala to prevent any infectious diseases. The Embassy of China in Turkmenistan also uses this method of decontamination and disinfection.
China and Turkmenistan pay great attention and make great efforts to advance the development of traditional medicine; this area offers broad prospects for bilateral cooperation. The two sides have started negotiations on the opening of the Centre of Chinese Medicine in Turkmenistan that will not only provide diagnostic and treatment services, but also develop jointly medicines, which will benefit the two peoples. Currently, dozens of students from Turkmenistan are studying at the department of Chinese medicine at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. The first bachelors graduate in 2022. We hope that the Centre of Chinese Medicine in Turkmenistan will be opened by that time, and these Turkmen specialists will work there and be able to apply their intellect and talent, promote mutual learning of traditional medicine in China and Turkmenistan and contribute to the health and well-being of the peoples of Turkmenistan and all over the world.
Question: What is the impact of the epidemic on the global economy?
Answer: The epidemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia has spread in more than 200 countries and regions and hit hard the global economy, society and the financial system in terms of supply and demand. The worldwide economic downturn has become a common understanding of different countries. According to experts of the International Monetary Fund, the global economy will contract by 3% in 2020. The World Bank expects the world economy to shrink by about 5.2% in 2020.
Due to sanitary and epidemic measures introduced to a different extent in different countries to restrict the movement of people and the flow of goods, suspend business activities, etc., the production volumes of enterprises worldwide are insufficient, consumer demand is falling significantly, international trade and investment are decelerating considerably and many major global supply chains are broken and at risk of disrupting. On the other hand, a considerable number of countries are adopting a policy of restricting the export of agricultural products and medical supplies, predominantly supplying the domestic market, trade protectionism and unilateralism are rising and strengthening, which further worsens the global economic situation.
Looking back at the history of human development, a threat and an opportunity always follow each other. Facing this threat, different countries should deal with the current economic situation from a comprehensive, dialectic, rational and long-term standpoint, seek a new opportunity and create a new environment in a tough situation. While the peoples of different countries are fighting against the epidemic, the resumption of work and production of the industrial internet of things is accelerating, the logic and method of trading are changing. It should be noted that the direction of a transition of mankind from the information community to an intellectual society has become clear, for which the progress and application of big data, 5G, artificial intelligence and other technologies is building the necessary foundation. The epidemic has pushed the global economy into a recession, but at the same time, it will bring about more points of economic growth and give a powerful incentive to international trade and economic cooperation and structural transformation in the world economy.
The virus has no boundaries, and different countries hand in hand must promote cooperation and respond together. Different countries should also, by concerted efforts, promote close cooperation, strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, jointly contribute to the global economy recovery and unveil the potential for development to mitigate the global economic impacts of the epidemic. China will continue its coordinated efforts to promote epidemic prevention and control and socioeconomic growth upon the normalization of prevention and control situation, promote the stability of foreign trade, properly conduct the third China International Import Expo, actively increase imports, develop a large-scale open to the world market at a higher level, significantly shorten the negative list for access to foreign investment, accelerate the creation of experimental free trade zones and Hainan Free Trade Port, create a good market climate to ensure competition between domestic and foreign enterprises on an equitable and fair basis, promote the high-quality joint construction of One Belt, One Road, adhere to the principles of mutual consultation, joint construction and shared benefits, promote mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, encourage liberalization and simplification of trade and investment procedures, firmly defend the multilateral trading mechanism and jointly ensure the stability of international production and supply chains.
Mankind is a community of common destiny, and different peoples share joy and sorrows. China is building its development plan from the standpoint of openness, cooperation and multi-win and is ready to work together with different countries to advance an open global economy as well as economic globalization towards inclusiveness, accessibility, balance and multi-win. /// nCa, 23 June 2020