Ambassador Zhou Haicheng's article on China-Vanuatu cooperation against COVID-19 entitled "Stronger Together"

On June 16, Ambassador Zhou Haicheng’s article on China-Vanuatu cooperation against COVID-19 entitled “Stronger Together” was published on Vanuatu Daily Post. The full text is as follows:

The COVID-19 global pandemic is the most extensive to afflict humanity in a century. It poses a grave threat to human life and health.

The virus does not respect borders. Nor is race or nationality relevant in the face of the disease. In the fight against COVID-19, China and Vanuatu have looked out for each other and battled the virus together, demonstrating a strong brotherhood and setting a model for joint pandemic response.

At the time when the situation in China was at its most difficult, the government and people of Vanuatu firmly supported China’s fight against COVID-19. Prime Minister Bob Loughman, former Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and other Vanuatu leaders expressed deep condolences to the Chinese government and people. They highly commended China’s prevention and control efforts and the notable success achieved. They openly opposed discrimination and xenophobia in responding to COVID-19. The Vanuatu government overcame its fiscal strains and donated 10 million Vatu to China, which was the first donation to China in the name of a national government among Pacific island countries. Shefa province, Port Vila municipality, Luganville municipality, Vanuatu-China Friendship Association, Vanuatu Tourism Office, Air Vanuatu and Vanuatu students made videos to cheer China up. China highly appreciates the valuable support from Vanuatu, which will always be remembered.

We Chinese believe in reciprocating goodwill and generosity. As COVID-19 spreads across the world, Vanuatu also faces grave challenges. TC Harold and the volcano ash fall on Tanna Island have dealt extra blow to Vanuatu. China relates to what Vanuatu is going through. China’s central government, Guangdong province, Foshan city, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Chinese community in Vanuatu and CCECC have pulled together to help Vanuatu. We have provided timely assistance amounting to over 150 million Vatu to meet the immediate needs of the Vanuatu government and people. These include cash, large numbers of face masks, protective suits and other PPE, ventilators, blood gas analyzers and other ICU equipment, coronavirus testing kits, isolation wards and laboratory, boats, iron roofs, solar lights, food and other disaster relief assistance, etc. In addition, three advanced customs inspection systems have recently been officially handed over to the Vanuatu government, which will serve to upgrade Vanuatu’s boarder control capability. China invited Vanuatu to participate in the Vice Ministers' Special Meeting and the Health Experts Video Conference on COVID-19 between China and Pacific island countries to share prevention, containment, diagnosis and treatment experience, build consensus and discuss how to strengthen anti-pandemic cooperation. The Chinese embassy continues providing the latest information and diagnosis and treatment protocols on COVID-19 to Vanuatu, especially NDMO, relevant ministries and departments, and media outlets. The two Chinese medical teams based in Port Vila and Luganville respectively are working side by side with their Vanuatu colleagues at the frontline against COVID-19. China has also rendered assistance to over 100 Vanuatu students studying in China and helped address their concerns and needs. China has quickly acted upon the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and decided to suspend Vanuatu’s loan repayments to China in order to support Vanuatu’s economic and social development in this trying time.

It is gratifying to see that Vanuatu remains coronavirus free, thanks to the efforts of the Vanuatu government and people, and the assistance from China and other partners. This constitutes a great contribution to regional COVID-19 response and a good example for other countries.

The virus is still raging, and more must be done to bring it under control. Development needs and people’s livelihood in various countries must be attended to. Guided by the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China wishes to step up collaboration with Vanuatu to get prepared for a long fight against COVID-19, safeguard public health security, enhance economic and social development, and promote the ever-growing China-Vanuatu Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

--Strengthen policy alignment. The Vanuatu government has released its policy directions for the next four years. China will keep close communication and increase policy coordination with Vanuatu over post-COVID-19 era pragmatic cooperation, focusing on productive sectors, infrastructure, public health, education and training that hold the key to promoting Vanuatu’s resilience and sustainable development.

--Advance cooperation in pandemic prevention and control. China will continue helping Vanuatu improve its public health system and preparedness, tapping into the potential of cooperation in medical care and traditional Chinese medicine. China will provide US$2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries. We are ready to discuss with Vanuatu bilateral programs under this framework. China’s Guangdong province will provide more medical supplies to Vanuatu, including PPE.

--Ensure progress of major projects. Such bilateral projects as the on-going Phase II of Tanna and Malekula Road Project, the Pentacost Road and Jetty Project being designed, and the vehicles project under discussion are all of great significance to disaster relief efforts and long-term development of Vanuatu. While keeping people safe from COVID-19, we need to facilitate movements of necessary materials and personnel to guarantee progress of those projects in order to minimize the impact of COVID-19.

--Expand economic and trade cooperation. China will continue to encourage capable Chinese enterprises to invest in Vanuatu. China stands ready to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with Vanuatu in extensive areas such as trade, transportation, agriculture, fisheries and tourism, and contribute to Vanuatu’s early graduation from Least Developed Countries category.

--Deepen educational exchanges. Education is the foundation for building a country. To meet Vanuatu’s aspiration and needs, the Chinese side will do its utmost to facilitate the discussion between Vanuatu and Chinese partners on building a Confucius institute here and Chinese language teaching in Vanuatu schools. We will keep providing Chinese Government Scholarships to outstanding Ni-Van students and inviting Vanuatu friends to participate in training programs to help with Vanuatu’s capacity building, nurturing more “pillars” for Vanuatu’s future development and more envoys of the China-Vanuatu friendship.

The darkest hour will pass. Looking ahead, we can see twilight and hope. I am confident that after this pandemic, the China-Vanuatu friendship will be stronger than ever before and our bilateral relationship will yield more fruitful results.

Embassy of The People's Republic of China in The Republic of Fiji All Rights Reserved