|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 8, 2020|
To help Myanmar fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has decided to send a team of medical experts to Myanmar. The team, organized by the National Health Commission, consists of experts selected by the Yunnan Provincial Health Commission. The team left for Myanmar on the morning of April 8.
CCTV: Nearly 100 former government officials and experts in the US issued a statement calling for China-US anti-epidemic cooperation, which they claim has won bipartisan support. The statement also identified China's problems such as its initial cover-up, its continuing lack of transparency, and its failure to cooperate fully with the US and international medical authorities. I wonder if you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We noted this statement. Former government officials and experts in the US are calling for cooperation between China and the US in an effort to combat the COVID-19, which they believe is very important for preventing its further spreading. This is consistent with the rational voices coming from people with vision in China, the US and the larger international community. We applaud and welcome that.
The virus knows no borders or races. It is a common challenge that can only be addressed by concerted international efforts. Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China will continue strengthening cooperation with all countries including the US and contributing to global public health. President Xi and President Trump recently had two phone calls and reached important consensus on bilateral cooperation in anti-pandemic response. Health authorities and experts of both sides have been in close contact and held video conferences. Chinese localities, companies and civil groups have been donating medical supplies to the US to support their people. We are also helping the US government and businesses purchase Chinese supplies. Pharmaceutical companies and scientists of both sides are in contact and cooperation with each other on the R&D of vaccines and medicine.
That said, some contents that you mentioned in this statement, like China's initial cover-up and lack of transparency, are completely untrue. China has been open, transparent and responsible since the COVID-19 first broke out. We notified the WHO of the epidemic, shared the genome sequencing of the virus, carried out international cooperation and helped other countries affected, all at the earliest time possible. These are plain, internationally recognized facts, which cannot be denied or erased by anyone.
The fight against COVID-19 could serve as a platform for China-US cooperation. Just as President Xi said to President Trump in a recent phone conversation, both sides stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Cooperation is the only right choice. We hope the US will work with China toward the same goal, follow the leaders' consensus, enhance anti-epidemic cooperation, develop China-US relations featuring no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and deliver greater benefits to people in China, the US and beyond.
Bloomberg: Are you aware of any expected G20 actions on the global oil market? And what role will China play?
Zhao Lijian: I want to state China's principled position on this issue. As a major energy importer and consumer, we hope to see a stable international energy market. There are various speculations on the prospect of the world economy amid the pandemic. At this particular time, stability of the international energy market bears special significance. China hopes the G20 and other multilateral mechanisms will play their due role in this regard.
Shenzhen TV: A special video conference of ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting was held on April 7 to enhance cooperation in response to COVID-19. Can you give us more details on the meeting? What consensus was reached on epidemic prevention and control?
Zhao Lijian: On the afternoon of April 7, the ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting on COVID-19 was convened via video conference to enhance cooperation in response to COVID-19. Health officials from China, Japan, the ROK and ten ASEAN countries as well as Secretary General of ASEAN Secretariat attended the meeting and delivered remarks. Attendees also include over 100 representatives from the above-mentioned departments. On the Chinese side, a senior official from the National Health Commission attended the meeting.
During the meeting, the Chinese side talked about our anti-epidemic practices and experience as well as our sharing of information and technology with other countries. We called on all parties to continue supporting WHO's leading role in fighting the pandemic, sharing information in an open, transparent and responsible manner, strengthening communication and coordination, and taking concerted actions to win the global fight against COVID-19.
As we understand, countries are discussing a joint statement after the meeting to jointly safeguard regional and global health security amid the pandemic. Please stay tuned.
Phoenix TV: First question, does the Chinese government plan to take home underage Chinese students from the US by charter flights? Second, yesterday US President Trump said "the WHO really blew it", and that the US is going to "put a hold on money spent to the WHO." Do you have any response to that?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, the CPC Central Committee attaches high importance to and cares a great deal about the overseas Chinese students. After the COVID-19 broke out in many countries, the foreign ministry, following the decisions of the CPC Central Committee, asked all Chinese diplomatic missions overseas to do their best to convey love and care to overseas Chinese students from the Party and the Government. Now the majority of overseas students choose to stay where they are. Considering some Chinese students, especially the underage students, are facing real difficulties, our ministry is coordinating temporary flights to take these students home in a gradual and orderly way.
On your second question, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization, under the leadership of Dr. Tedros, has been earnestly fulfilling its duties, upholding an objective, scientific and fair stance, and playing an important role in coordinating international efforts and advancing international cooperation in response to the pandemic. It has won recognition and acclaim from all over the world. The statement of the recent Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 stressed that member states fully support and commit to further strengthen the WHO's mandate in coordinating the international fight against the pandemic. China will continue supporting the WHO in fulfilling its work and playing a leading role in global anti-pandemic cooperation.
As the COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the world, the US "putting a hold on US funding to WHO" will seriously undermine the organization's normal functioning as well as international anti-pandemic cooperation. We hope countries can work together, help each other amid difficulties and jointly contribute to the global fight against the coronavirus.
The Paper: According to a report released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on April 7, China became the top source of international patent application filings in 2019, registering a 200-fold increase over the past 20 years. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said that China's rapid emergence was "down to a very deliberate strategy on the part of Chinese leadership to advance innovation and to make China a country whose economy operates at a higher level of value". What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese government attaches great importance to IPR protection. It has taken concrete measures to enhance such protection, including by reinforcing top-level design, improving laws and regulations, reforming institutions and mechanisms, and strengthening judicial and administrative protection, which has brought out society-wide outbursts of innovation and led to world-class achievements. In recent years, China has vigorously implemented the strategy of innovation-driven development and the intellectual property strategy, raised public awareness of "protecting intellectual property rights is protecting innovation", and constantly increased investment in innovation and R&D. In 2019, China's R&D spending totaled nearly 2.2 trillion yuan, registering a year-on-year growth of 10.5%. We strengthened IPR protection by fostering a business environment that respects the value of knowledge and features good innovation ecology. In 2019, about 59,000 Chinese applications were filed via WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) System, marking an annual growth rate of 10.6%, and China became the biggest source of international patent application filings. It reflects stronger IPR protection, greater innovative capacity and better public awareness of IPR protection in China. Chinese enterprises are paying more attention to their own IPR protection. China has become a major innovator and IPR holder in the world.
Going forward, China will continue to promote innovation-driven development, strengthen IPR protection, and make greater efforts to promote international cooperation in this field. China is ready to cooperate with WIPO and other countries to jointly promote global innovation and intellectual property development.
Reuters: Can you give us a total number of the medical supplies China has donated to other countries?
Zhao Lijian: While fighting COVID-19 at home, we are helping other countries in need to the best of our ability. We do this to reciprocate these countries' earlier support for us, and out of humanitarian considerations. This is what we've said and done.
The number you asked about is being updated every day. I will consult the competent authority for you after the press conference.
Bloomberg: A question on supply chains. Japan has earmarked 2.2 billion dollars of its economic stimulus package to help manufactures shift production out of China as the coronavirus has disrupted supply chains. Does China have a response to this?
Zhao Lijian: The wide-spreading COVID-19 has had a major impact on the world economy. China has achieved remarkable results in fighting the virus and resuming normal socio-economic development. We hope other countries can also take measures to avoid further impacts on the world economy and global supply chains. We need to make concerted efforts to safeguard the stability of global supply chains and bring the world economy back onto the normal track.
Beijing Daily: The Chinese medical team in Cambodia completed its mission and returned to China yesterday. Could you tell us more about their work in Cambodia?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese medical team came back to China from Cambodia on April 7 after completing its mission. The team, organized by the National Health Commission, consisted of experts selected by the health commission of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The team arrived in Phnom Penh on March 23, the first medical team China sent to ASEAN countries in response to COVID-19.
In Cambodia, the team raced against the virus every day. They visited hospitals, communities, airports, hotels and industrial parks, made suggestions to the Cambodian side, and shared their experience in the diagnosis and treatment of severe and critical cases. In addition, the Chinese experts also provided medical guidance and assistance to Chinese citizens in Cambodia.
The team has won universal praise from the Cambodian people. As Prime Minister Hun Sen said, "people fall in love amid poverty and know true friends in adversity". The Chinese medical experts helping Cambodia is an epitome of our true friendship. Cambodian netizens expressed their gratitude to the team by writing Cambodian lyrics to the melody of the traditional Chinese folk song "Liu Sanjie".
China stands ready to continue giving utmost support and assistance to Cambodian friends if such needs arise. Together we will achieve the final victory in the battle against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Stay strong, Cambodia!