The Sunday Mail
THE Chinese Embassy has pledged more assistance to Zimbabwe to fight the spread of Covid-19, while adding its voice to the call by the United Nations for countries that have imposed sanctions on Harare to lift them to enhance the country’s efforts against the novel coronavirus.
To date, China has provided various forms of assistance towards the fight against the pandemic, including renovating Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital, the country’s main referral centre for Covid-19 patients.
Chinese businessman, Jack Ma, donated 20 000 laboratory diagnostic test kits, 100 000 medical face masks, 1 000 protective suits and face shields to Zimbabwe. The donation is part of a larger consignment donated to all African countries by the Jack Ma Foundation.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, China’s Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Zhao Baogang, said his country had provided further assistance for Zimbabwe to fight the pandemic.
“It should be noted that in addition to the kits that were received from Jack Ma and the US$500 000 provided by three Chinese companies based in Zimbabwe to renovate Wilkins, the Embassy has mobilised more assistance. The Chinese government has donated further supplies.
“We have taken delivery of 2 000 medical masks, 2 000 medical protective suits, 500 infrared electronic thermometers, 1 920 medical isolated eye patches, 2 000 pairs of sterile latex surgical gloves and 2 000 surgical shoe covers. These will all be donated to various medical institutions,” he said.
Mr Zhao said the embassy was coordinating with Chinese companies in Zimbabwe and China, as well as the Chinese Government for further assistance to Zimbabwe.
“There are going to be more consignments coming to Zimbabwe. There is a lot of mobilising that we are doing with companies based here as well as those based in Beijing. Covid-19 is a common enemy and we will continue to provide support. We are also mindful that when China was the epicentre of the virus, President Mnangagwa sent his solidarity message to President Xi Jinping.
“Now that the situation is getting better in China, we owe it to Zimbabwe to assist in fighting the spread of the virus. In China life has returned to normal for 90 percent of the cities. The lockdown has been lifted in many places so it is now our duty to help other countries in fighting the virus,” he said.
Mr Zhao said some Chinese doctors were already in Zimbabwe sharing knowledge with locals.
“We have also created a platform for exchange of information with doctors who are in China through teleconferencing. Some two weeks ago, the doctors in China held a teleconference with doctors from 24 African countries including Zimbabwe.
“As the embassy we are facilitating for more such teleconferences to be held directly between medical experts in China and those in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Last week, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the lifting of sanctions on all countries, including Zimbabwe, in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
In a letter to the G-20 member countries, the UN boss said that the move would allow for access to essential medical material required to fight the pandemic. Mr Zhao backed the UN’s call for lifting of sanctions, saying Covid-19 is a common enemy that presents a unique opportunity for countries to put their differences aside.
“The Chinese government believes that unilateral sanctions outside the UN are illegal and undermine the basic norms of relations between nations. We believe that this pandemic allows for international cooperation and solidarity.
“In the spirit of cooperation, we support the UN’s call for lifting of all sanctions against Zimbabwe. Sanctions against Zimbabwe should be lifted immediately to ensure that we are united as the world in the fight against this pandemic.”
Stigmatisation against the Chinese
The deputy ambassador also spoke out against discrimination of Chinese nationals in relation to the novel coronavirus.
“We have strong objections to prejudice from certain countries who refer to Covid-19 as the ‘China virus’. This promotes discrimination and creates a wedge between China and the rest of the world.
”International solidarity and not labelling is the way to go during the fight against this virus.”
Although Covid-19 was first recorded in China, the Asian giant is no longer the global epicentre of the pandemic as other countries such as Italy and the United States have recorded more cases.
China’s response to the pandemic has seen a sharp decline in cases and provided lessons to the whole world on strategies to combat the pandemic, with US President Donald Trump even saying that he had sought assistance from President Xi Jinping.