By Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan
A few days ago, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a cordial and friendly phone call with Afghan Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar. This is the first phone call between the two old friends since Foreign Minister Atmar took office, which is of great significance in the context of the worsening epidemic of COVID-19 in Afghanistan and new opportunities for peace and reconciliation. The two sides held in-depth talks on China-Afghanistan anti-epidemic cooperation, the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and cooperation between the two countries in various fields, further promoting the strategic and cooperative partnership.
The Chinese side pays close attention to the development of the epidemic in Afghanistan, knows full well that Afghanistan is facing greater challenges in epidemic prevention and material gap, and sympathizes with the suffering of the Afghan people in the epidemic. In case of severe epidemic, anti-epidemic materials are the shield to protect life. 11.7 tons of epidemic prevention materials assisted by the Chinese side have been put into the front line of epidemic prevention in hospitals in many provinces of Afghanistan, protecting the lives and health of many Afghanistan people. This is a vivid manifestation of the fact that China and Afghanistan watch and help each other and their destinies are linked. Wang noted that the two countries enjoy the tradition of mutual understanding, trust and support. As a neighbor and strategic and cooperative partner of Afghanistan, China is never absent when Afghanistan is in need and always lends a helping hand without any hesitation. In addition to its provision of emergency medical supplies urgently needed in Afghanistan, China will do its best to further support the country in light of its needs. Atmar thanked China for providing large amount of medical supplies and sharing experience and hailed China’s effective COVID-19 response.
The COVID-19 outbreak has dragged the whole human race into a fierce war with a highly infectious disease on a global scale. Facing the sudden and unprecedented attack of a virus unknown before, the Chinese people are pulling together with the whole world. Looking out for each other in these trying times, mankind have written a new chapter of building a global community with a shared future. President Xi Jinping has put the people’s well-being front and center, acted with a strong sense of responsibility to the world, and rallied all ethnic groups in China for launching a people’s war, comprehensive campaign, and containment operation against the virus. Through massive, nation-wide efforts and enormous sacrifice, we have brought the domestic outbreak well under control, and made important progress in the war. Throughout the fight, we have received heart-warming help and support from the international community, and we have played an indispensable role in safeguarding international public health security.
Firstly, China made a robust response and contributed substantially to the global fight against the outbreak. After more than two months of strenuous efforts, China emerged as one of the first countries to stem the outbreak. New cases in China have been sporadic for a month now. And domestic transmission has been largely stopped. While battling the outbreak, China has managed to restore its economy and society step by step to a normal order, has significantly eased the strained global medical supplies. It will also help bring the world economy back to normal at an early date. Secondly, China offered constructive proposals and blazed a trail for international cooperation against the outbreak. Since the outbreak began, President Xi has engaged in intensive and important discussions with other world leaders to promote international cooperation on combating the virus, conveyed China’s firm and sincere commitment to solidarity with the whole world, boosted global confidence, and led the way for international cooperation against the outbreak. Thirdly, China shouldered its responsibilities and provided strong support to other countries. Since the start of the outbreak, China has placed great importance on and stayed actively engaged in international cooperation. Although fighting the virus in China remains a formidable task, we have been doing all we could to provide assistance to other countries and actively engage in international cooperation. Fourthly, China made clear its positions and helped build important consensus for mankind to stem the outbreak. China’s victory over the virus is attributable to the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, to the science-based, transparent, well-planned and forceful measures taken by the government, to the unity and fortitude of the 1.4 billion people, and to the great solidarity, assistance and support from other countries. More and more countries have come to appreciate and agree with China’s position. It has become a common voice and consensus in the international community to reject any attempt at labeling the virus, politicizing the response, and stigmatizing any specific country.
The Chinese strength, spirit and efficiency demonstrated by the Chinese people in this fight and China’s role as a responsible major country have been highly commended by the international community. Leaders of over 170 countries, 50 international and regional organizations and more than 300 foreign political parties and political organizations have expressed sympathy and support to China’s national leaders. The international community broadly recognizes the fact that while taking comprehensive and forceful measures to keep the situation under control, China has actively engaged in cooperation and information-sharing with the WHO and the world. It speedily shared the complete genome sequences of certain virus strains, and developed fast testing kits, all in an effort to prevent the virus from hitting more parts of the world. This represents not only China’s commitment to the safety and health of its own people but also a contribution to the cause of global public health. It is also widely recognized globally that no other country can match China’s decisive and forceful measures and its outstanding leadership and ability to respond, organize, mobilize and implement. China has become a pacesetter for epidemic response.
China firmly supports Afghanistan in the fight against the epidemic and has not forgotten to promote peace and development in Afghanistan. During the call, Atmar gave an update on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, highly appreciates China’s constructive role and hopes that China will continue to work with regional countries to urge Taliban to reach early agreement with the Afghan government. Wang expressed support for the Afghan government’s positive proposals on peace and reconciliation and hope that all parties stay confident and patient for an early political agreement. The future political arrangements of Afghanistan should feature broad representation, strong determination to combating terrorism of all forms, and firm commitment to a foreign policy of peace and friendship. As a neighbor and friend of Afghanistan, China respects the Afghan people’s choice of their own development path and stands ready to continue to support, mediate and facilitate the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and further play its constructive role.
The two sides unanimously advocated promoting the joint construction of Belt and Road Initiative. Wang said that China will work with Afghanistan to deepen the Belt and Road cooperation and cooperation in other fields for the benefit of the two countries and peoples. Atmar noted that the Belt and Road Initiative, warmly welcomed and actively participated by Afghanistan, has brought benefits to the two countries and the wider region. Afghanistan is committed to working with China to promote the Belt and Road cooperation and take the strategic and cooperative partnership between the two sides to a new level. In recent years, Afghanistan has benefited a lot from the Belt and Road Initiative. I am glad to see that more and more Afghan pine nuts and other specialty products are exported to China, the trade volume of goods between China and Afghanistan has increased year after year, and Afghan farmers and merchants have received a real increase in income. This benefit will continue to increase with the promotion of the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative between the two countries.
Atmar also expressed the hope that China will continue to assist Afghanistan in improving its relations with Pakistan and received a positive response. Wang said that China, more than anyone else, wants to see a harmonious Afghanistan-Pakistan relations and will contribute to any effort that helps improve the mutual trust and relations between the two sides. China is willing to hold a China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers’ dialogue at an appropriate time to push forward cooperation among the three countries. Afghanistan and Pakistan are neighbors who cannot move away, and both are good friends of China. I am very pleased to see that there has been a lot of improvement in Afghanistan-Pakistani relations recently, and I sincerely hope that this momentum will be continuously consolidated and deepened to promote peace and development in Afghanistan.
Virus respects no borders and makes no distinction between races. Mankind is a community with a shared future and a common stake. Only with solidarity, coordination and cooperation can the international community defeat COVID-19. At such a moment, it is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response. We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease.