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Wang Yi Attends UN Security Council Ministerial Open Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccine Issue

On February 17, 2021, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended a virtual UN Security Council Ministerial Open Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccine Issue in Beijing, and delivered a speech entitled "Strengthening Global Anti-pandemic Cooperation with a People-centered Approach".

Wang Yi said, in the past seven months since the Security Council passed Resolution 2532 calling for a global ceasefire and stepping up efforts to fight the pandemic, more than 180 countries have endorsed the global ceasefire initiative, and the situation in Libya, Sudan and other countries has made significant progress, contributing to the international fight against the pandemic. Meanwhile, a new round of the pandemic is still spreading, and the vast majority of developing countries, especially countries caught in conflict and those affected by humanitarian crises, are facing difficult situations. We must redouble our efforts to make new contributions to fighting the pandemic and maintaining peace. Wang Yi put forward four points in this regard:

First, put people first and strengthen international cooperation against COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, there is no principle more important than putting people first, and no other consideration that is given higher priority to than putting people's lives first. This is a relay race to save lives together, not a zero-sum game in which one gains at the expense of the other. All countries should replace division with unity, and firmly follow the right path of cooperating to fight the pandemic and overcome difficulties together; replace prejudice with science, and combat all kinds of false information and attempts to politicize the pandemic. Security Council members must set an example in this regard.

Second, fully implement Security Council resolutions and create an environment conducive to the fight against the pandemic. All parties to the conflict must earnestly abide by Security Council Resolution 2532, stay away from the battlefield, and participate in the battle against the pandemic. We should ensure humanitarian access, and give priority to helping vulnerable groups such as women and children. The UN should make good use of the ceasefire window, actively mediate and promote the political settlement process. China has always opposed unilateral sanctions that are not authorized by the Security Council and urges relevant countries to demonstrate humanitarianism and at least suspend unilateral coercive measures that are not based on international law.

Third, address the vaccine deficit and increase assistance to developing countries. The COVID-19 vaccine is being developed and produced at a record speed, but there are also problems that urgently need to be resolved. First, "capacity deficit". For vaccines that have been used for emergencies and have received conditional marketing authorization, countries should not only rely on their own strength to increase the supply, but also actively carry out international cooperation such as commissioned production and joint production. Second, "access deficit". Vaccines are entering high-income countries quickly and in large numbers, while poor countries have little access. This will not only lead to the "immunization gap" but also aggravate the "development gap". All parties should come together to reject vaccine nationalism, promote fair and reasonable deployment of vaccines, and in particular, make them accessible and affordable for developing countries, including those in conflicts, so as not to let a country in need be left behind or let any people waiting for the vaccine be forgotten.

Fourth, strengthen overall coordination and give full play to the role of the UN system. All parties should continue to increase their political support and financial input to the World Health Organization (WHO), and in particular support the WHO to lead this largest immunization campaign in human history. The "COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility" (COVAX) should fully embody the principle of giving priority to developing countries and ensure the supply of conflict areas and sanctioned countries. The World Food Program, United Nations Children's Fund, and other international organizations should build a green channel for the distribution of vaccines to developing countries, especially the "last kilometer" in Africa.

Wang Yi said, President Xi Jinping solemnly declared to the world that China's vaccines will be a global public good, making China's contribution to the realization of the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. China has delivered on its commitments, and first joins the WHO-sponsored Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative, actively develops vaccine R&D cooperation with over 10 countries, and joins and supports the COVAX to promote fair deployment of vaccines with practical actions. At the request of the WHO, China decided to provide 10 million doses of domestic vaccine to the COVAX to meet the urgent needs of developing countries. China has provided vaccine assistance to 53 developing countries that have made requests, and has exported vaccines to 22 countries. China actively leverages its advantages in the industrial chain to support and assist other countries in processing and producing vaccine products in China or locally to help increase global production capacity. China has decided to join the Friends of the COVID-19 Vaccine Group for peacekeepers and donate vaccines to UN peacekeepers.

Wang Yi emphasized, China has never pursued any geopolitical goals in its international cooperation on the COVID-19 vaccine, never calculated any economic benefits, and never attached any political conditions. What we think about the most is to make vaccines public goods that are accessible and affordable to people in all countries, and make them truly become a people's vaccine. China will continue to work with all parties to strengthen cooperation in vaccines, prevention and control and other fields, contribute to a global community of health for all, and win the final victory in the global fight against the pandemic.

Under the theme of "ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in contexts affected by conflict and insecurity", the meeting was hosted by the United Kingdom, the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in February. Security Council members and UN Secretary-General António Guterres attended the meeting.

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