|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the Security Council VTC Meeting on COVID-19|
I thank Secretary-General Guterres for his briefing. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Secretary-General has taken a series of initiatives, including the launch of the Appeal for Global Ceasefire, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan and the Report on Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19, all in an effort to promote international solidarity and cooperation to fight the pandemic. China appreciates his actions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious threat to people’s lives and health and a great challenge to the global public health security. The numbers of confirmed cases and deaths around the world indicate that the global peak of infections has yet to come, which is indeed worrying.
COVID-19 is a global challenge. It puts national governments to the test, a test of their ability to lead and deliver. It also puts the United Nations to the test, a test of its ability to convene and coordinate. It indeed puts all of us in the international community to the test, a test of whether we can unite and work together. China commends the UN and WHO for their leading and coordinating role in this fight. China actively supports the global effort made by the UN. We hope that the international community will diligently respond to the call of the UN by coming together so that we can win this battle as soon as possible.
As the organ with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council has been closely following the impact of COVID-19 on the maintenance of international peace and security, including its negative effect on the conflict situations on the agenda of the Council. During the last two weeks of March, even though confronted with technical difficulties, China as the President, together with other Council members, held VTC meetings on the situations in the DRC, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question. The impact of COVID-19 was discussed during these meetings. We also issued several press elements, highlighting the Council’s close attention to the impact of the pandemic.
China supports the Secretary-General’s Appeal for Global Ceasefire and hopes that conflict parties will actively support and act on the initiative. For this purpose, the Council should focus on the following areas:
First, push for cessation of hostilities. The virus knows no borders, race, fraction or faith. It is a common enemy of mankind. The conflict parties in Sudan and South Sudan have announced a cessation of hostilities; Israel and Palestine are working together to fight the pandemic; The Secretary-General’s special envoys for Yemen and Syria have been mediating a ceasefire. China welcomes the announcement by Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Coalition, of a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen. China supports the Council in helping to bring more conflict parties to recognize the primacy of life and health, set aside their differences, lay down their arms and stop fighting so as to buy time for prevention and containment, open up space for cooperation, and create conditions for political solutions.
Second, increase humanitarian assistance and access. Vulnerable states and populations are the hardest hit in this crisis. Healthcare systems are inadequate in conflict countries and the LDCs, where the situation of women, children, elders and people with disabilities is especially dire. Special attention and assistance should be given to African countries. China supports the Global Humanitarian Response Plan launched by the Secretary-General to provide financial support to these countries. China hence calls on countries to increase resource input to this Plan, strengthen support to relevant countries and create a “green corridor” for the sake of safeguarding people’s lives. At the same time, we also urge relevant countries will respond to the Secretary-General’s appeal by lifting unilateral sanctions to reduce negative impact on the humanitarian situation.
Third, strengthen the safety and security of peacekeepers. Peacekeepers are a valuable asset of the UN peacekeeping operations. We commend the dedication and sacrifice of UN peacekeepers in this difficult time. Last month, the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2518 on the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, calling for improved medical support and critical medical facilities and capacity for peacekeepers. Some Special Representatives and Force Commanders on the ground expressed their hope for building new hospitals or deploying additional medical capacity and supplies, which will not only strengthen medical support for peacekeepers, but also help with capacity-building in the host countries. The Secretariat and countries concerned should respond positively to their call. I wish to emphasis that China will continue to actively engage in UN Peacekeeping Operations and honor our financial obligations.
Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and with the utmost sense of responsibility for the Chinese people and people of the world, the Chinese government has adopted the most comprehensive, thorough and strict measures of prevention and control. Important results have been achieved at the current stage.
During the toughest time in China’s fight against COVID-19, many countries came forward with sincere help and solid support. We are grateful for the valuable help. China, although facing risks of rebound and imported cases, is doing everything possible to help other countries. China has provided support of various forms to more than 100 countries, including all those on the agenda of the Security Council, providing medical supplies, sharing experience, sending expert teams and assisting with commercial procurement. China’s support will not stop so long as the pandemic is not over.
The COVID-19 pandemic shows once again that people of the world live in a global village and have a shared future. What China has gone through proves that defeating the outbreak is possible as long as national governments demonstrate strong leadership and formulate and execute right policies and strategies, and the people pull together and act for the greater good. To overcome this global challenge, solidarity, cooperation, mutual support and assistance is what we need, while beggar-thy-neighbor or scapegoating will lead us nowhere. Any acts of stigmatization and politicization must be rejected.
Fighting COVID-19 is an urgent task that brooks no delay. I am confident that as long as we face up to the challenge and work as one, the virus will be defeated.
Thank you, Mr. President.