Solidarity and cooperation are the international community's most powerful weapons in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic

  - With enormous cost and sacrifices, China has effectively reversed the epidemic

  - President Xi Jinping personally initiated and actively promoted international cooperation

  - China has unreservedly shared information and experience with the international community and has been providing humanitarian aid

  - China strongly supports the global leadership of the World Health Organization in the fight against the pandemic

  - China commits itself to developing a global health management system to meet the requirements of the new era

  - China calls on all countries to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind

Dong Xiaojun was born in November 1962. He holds a bachelor's degree in arts from the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages, a bachelor's degree in law from the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, and a master's degree in public administration from the John. F. Kennedy School at Harvard University.

In his diplomatic career, he rose successively - from Attaché at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1985-1987, through Attaché, Third Secretary at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of the Gambia in 1988-1990, Counsellor at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2001-2004 and Deputy Consul General at the Chinese Consulate General in New York from 2008 to 2013, to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Jamaica and concurrently Permanent Representative of China to the International Seabed Authority in 2013-2015. Then he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay from 2015 to 2018.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his country at various times, he was Third Secretary, Deputy Director, Director and Counsellor at the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs.

Before coming to Bulgaria, he was an ambassador at the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs from 2018 to 2019.

On April 2, 2019, H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun presented his credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria. Upon his arrival, he impressed the Bulgarian society with his brilliant erudition, precise priorities and wide scope of work. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things in the world. It also changed our questions to him, which were so many that we decided to divide the interview into two parts. The current part is about Covid-19. Next - on China's achievements and our bilateral relations.

- Your Excellency, the Information Office of the State Council of China recently published a White Paper entitled "Fighting COVID-19: China in Action". What is the purpose of this publication?

- Covid-19 is a pandemic affecting humanity at the most extensive scale in a century. This is a war with virus, a serious crisis and a daunting challenge for the whole world. Faced with this unknown, unexpected and devastating disease, China has launched a resolute battle to prevent and control its spread. Putting people's lives and health as its first priority, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have adopted the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures and have effectively deterred channels for the transmission of the virus. The 1.4 billion Chinese people have shown great tenacity and solidarity in building a defense line, which is a testament to their strength in the face of such natural disasters.

By personally supervising and planning the battle, President Xi Jinping has bolstered people’s confidence, rallied their strength, and directed the way forward in the fight against the epidemic. The whole nation waged an all-out people’s war on the virus. With enormous cost and sacrifice, China has effectively reversed the epidemic, protected people’s lives and health, and made significant contributions to maintaining regional and global health security.

China has always adhered to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, and has been fighting the pandemic side by side with the rest of the world. In an open, transparent, responsible manner, China promptly notified the international community of the emergence of the novel coronavirus and unreservedly shared its experience in the prevention, control and treatment of the disease. China has done its utmost to provide humanitarian assistance in support of the international community's efforts to tackle the pandemic.

On June 3, 2020, the Chinese government released the White Paper entitled "Fighting COVID-19: China in Action ", in order to keep a record of the efforts of the Chinese people in the fight against the virus, to share their experiences with the rest of the world and to elaborate their perspectives on the global battle.

Currently, the virus is wreaking havoc throughout the world. China firmly believes that as long as all countries unite and cooperate to mount a collective response, the international community will be able to overcome the pandemic and emerge from this dark moment in human history into a brighter future.

- How is China's fight against the epidemic developing? Isthe growing number of cases in the country in the past daysa second wave? What are the statistics to date?

- COVID-19 is a major public health incident, spreading faster and wider than any other disease since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and is the most difficult to prevent and control. This is a crisis and a major ordeal for the country. China has adopted a series of most stringent and comprehensive measures to prevent and control the spread of the epidemic. Through painstaking efforts and tremendous sacrifice, China has achieved great results of strategic importance. As of the end of January 2020, in just over a month, the spread of the virus was contained.  In about two months, the daily increase of domestic new cases shrank to single digits, and in three months’ time, we achieved decisive victory in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan. April 8 is a historic date - 76 days after its closure, Wuhan finally lifted its outbound traffic restrictions. Currently, production and life in China are gradually recovering.

On June 11, after more than 50 days of zero reporting of newly confirmed cases, sporadic cases reappeared in Beijing. From June 11 to 19, a total of 205 newly confirmed cases were registered. Following the new outbreak, Beijing municipality immediately took proactive and decisive actions and enacted level-III emergency response and level-II prevention and control measures in 7,120 communities, with nearly 100,000 employees deployed under level-I conditions to block the spread of the epidemic. On June 19, Beijing publicized the gene sequence of this virus. On June 22, Beijing municipality announced that it had successfully contained the spread of the epidemic. Beijing will not become the "second Wuhan."

- China conducts active international exchanges and cooperation in support of the fight against the pandemic under the initiative of President Xi Jinping. Can you elaborate on that?

- China has been carrying out exchanges and cooperation with the international community from the outset. It has strengthened high-level communication, shared information, conducted research cooperation, and providedassistance to international organizations and other countries to the best of its ability, guided by the Chinese wisdom and belief in the strength to the global fight against the pandemic. The Communist Party of China has issued a joint appeal,together with 240 political parties from more than 110 countries, to callon all parties to focus on human safety and health, uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and work together to strengthen international anti-epidemic cooperation.

First, President Xi Jinping personally initiated and actively promoted international cooperation.

Since the outbreak, President Xi has spoken to or met with more than 50 foreign leaders and heads of international organizations, calling on all countries to adopt a sense of community with a shared future for mankind, to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to support the role of international organizations and to work together to address the challenges.

On March 26, at the extraordinary G20Leaders’ Summit, President Xi Jinping put forward a series of cooperation initiatives and four key proposals, i.e. to launch an all-out global war against Covid-19, effectively implement joint international prevention and control, actively support the role of international organizations, and strengthen coordination of international macroeconomic policies.  He called on the international community to rise to the challenge and act swiftly.

On May 18, at the opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly video conference, President Xi Jinping called on all countries to unite and work together to overcome the pandemic and build a global community of health for all.  He put forward six proposals, i.e. to launch all-out pandemic prevention and control, give play to the role of the World Health Organization, increase support for African countries, strengthen global public health governance, restore economic and social development, and strengthen international cooperation. He also announced a series of important measures that China would take to support the fight against the pandemic, including the provision of US$2 billion in international aid over two years, the establishment of a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China in cooperation with the United Nations, the establishment of a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals, the Covid-19 vaccines to be used as global public goods once  developed and deployed in China, and the implementation of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries together with other G20 members.

On June 17, at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, President Xi Jinping proposed to unswervingly fight the pandemic together, enhance China-Africa cooperation, uphold multilateralism, and promote China-Africa friendship.

On June 18, in his written address to the High-Level Video Conference on "Belt and Road" International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping said that China, in light of the current pandemic situation, was ready to work with our partners to build the "Belt and Road" into the road of cooperation with solidarity to meet the challenges, the road of health that protects human health, the road of recovery that fosters economic and social rehabilitation, and the road of growth that gives play to development potentials, and to work together in promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind through a high-quality joint immersion of the "Belt and Road". President Xi's initiatives have injected strong positive energy to the solidarity and collaboration of the international community to overcome the pandemic as soon as possible.

Second, China has unreservedly shared information and experience with the international community.

Following the outbreak, China immediately and regularly informed the World Health Organization and relevant national and regional organizations about the epidemic, and shared the entire genome sequence of the coronavirus and the sequence of specific primers and probes for detecting the coronavirus.

China has conducted more than 70 exchange events with international and regional organizations including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the European Union, the African Union, APEC, the Caribbean Community, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as the ROK, Japan, Russia, USA, Germany and other countries.

The National Health Commission (NHC) has worked out diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control solutions, had them translated into three languages, and shared them with over 180 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations. Together with the WHO, NHC also held an international briefing via video link on China’s experience in Covid-19 control.

The State Council Information Office has held two English-language press conferences in Wuhan, inviting relevant experts and front-line medical staff to present China's experience and practices in combating the epidemic.

The Chinese media have set up platforms such as "Global COVID-19 Front-line", and "Fighting COVID-19 the Chinese Way", to facilitate exchanges between countries.

Chinese think tanks and experts have communicated with their counterparts around the world in various ways. The WHO-China Joint Mission on Covid-19 made site visits in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Wuhan, and highly commended China’s efforts and success in prevention and control of the epidemic.

Third, China has been providing humanitarian aid to the international community.

Notwithstanding the tremendous domestic pressure in the prevention and control of coronavirus, China has moved quickly to provide as much assistance to the international community as it can. China has provided two batches of cash support totaling US$50 million to the WHO, assisted the organization in purchasing personal protective equipment and establishing reserve centers of supplies in China, as well as its Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund to raise funds in China. It has also participated in the WHO’s "Access to Covid-19 Tools (act) Accelerator" initiative, aiming to speed up the development, production and equitable distribution of new tools.

China has been active in providing medical aid to other countries. By May 31, China had sent 29 medical expert teams to 27 countries, and offered assistance to 150 countries and 4 international organizations. It hadsupervised medical teams stationed in 56 countries to support the local efforts, and provide technical counseling and health education to local people and the Chinese community.  Over 400 online and offline training sessions hadbeen organized. Local governments, enterprises, private institutions and individuals in China had donated materials to more than 150 countries, regions, and international organizations through various channels. The Chinese government has always had at heart the lives and health of foreigners in China, and has treated those infected with COVID-19 in a non-discriminatory and timely manner.

Fourth, China has made arrangements for orderly export of protective materials.

China has made every effort to support and facilitate the purchase of anti-epidemic materials by various countries, and has provided the international community with high quality materials urgently needed to combat the epidemic. From March 1 to May 31, China exported a large amount of anti-epidemic materials to 200 countries and regions, including 70.6 billion masks, 340 million protective suits, 115 million goggles, 96,700 ventilators, 225 million test kits, and 40.29 million infrared thermometers.  China’s growing exports has provided strong support for the prevention and control efforts of affected countries. From January to April, the number of China-Europe freight trains and the volume of goods delivered increased by 24 percent and 27 percent respectively, and a total of 660,000 packages were transported. This has played an important role in maintaining a smooth flow of international industrial and supply chains, and in ensuring the delivery of counter-epidemic supplies to relevant countries.

In addition, China has strengthened communication and exchanges with the WHO, conducted exchanges and cooperation with other countries on research in virus trace-ability, medicines, vaccines, and testing, shared scientific research data and information, and jointly studied prevention, control and treatment strategies.

- The White Paper speaks of "building a global community of health for all". In what form will it be?

- We live in the same global village where everyone belongs to a community with interconnected destiny. Viruses know no borders and are the common enemies of all mankind. No single country can be isolated or is able to manage the challenges alone. Cooperation in solidarity is the international community's most powerful weapon in overcoming the pandemic. The White Paper calls on countries to plan and act in the interests of human development and future generations, uphold the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, make concerted efforts and assist each other to overcome the contagion and to build a global community of health for all. In the course of the global battle against the pandemic, China has taken concrete actions to promote international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic and to foster the building of a global community of health for all.

China has advocated for the building of a global community of health for all. As mentioned earlier, in his phone calls or meetings with more than 50 foreign leaders or heads of international organizations and at relevant international conferences, President Xi Jinping has called on all parties to adopt the sense of a community with a shared future for mankind and join hands in responding to the pandemic. He has put forward proposals, initiatives and steps for strengthened international cooperation, demonstrating the sense of responsibility of a major country in sharing the same destiny and helping each other within the international community.

China is taking actions to build a global community of health for all. China has turned its words into actions in propelling international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. China strongly supports the WHO's global leadership in fighting COVID-19 and in mobilizing global resources to win the battle. China has promptly informed the international community of the epidemic situation and shared its experiences with all parties without reservation. China cherishes all the valuable support and assistance from the international community and has in return provided humanitarian aid and support as much as possible, as well as maximum facilitation for countries to purchase supplies from China.

China is committed to building a global community of health for all. In the fight against the virus, China is not only responsible for the lives and health of its own people, but also dedicated to the cause of global public health. It is committed to developing a global health management system thatmeets the requirements of the new era. It is currently negotiating with relevant parties and stepping up preparations for the establishment of a United Nations humanitarian depot and hub, accelerating the establishment of counterpart cooperation mechanism with 30 hospitals in Africa and the building of the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is solemnly committed to placing novel coronavirus vaccines as global public goods once they are developed and deployed. Focusing on the fight against the epidemic and for the sake of people’s lives in developing countries, China will provide US$2 billion in international aid over two years and defer the repayment of the poorest countries' debts. In response to the negative impact of the epidemic on the world economy, China called for stronger coordination of international macroeconomic policies, reduction or erasing of tariffs, removal of barriers and unblocked trade.

- There is some criticism of China for not informing the world community about the epidemic in time. On the other hand, a report from the WHO says that the world has seen very proper and rapid response by Chinese health authorities in fighting the epidemic. What is your comment on these critics?

- Since the outbreak, China has provided timely information to the international community in the spirit of openness, transparency and accountability. We strongly oppose the baseless accusations that China covered up information about the epidemic and mortality data. This is a serious disrespect to the 1.4 billion Chinese people, to the victims of the disease, and to the millions of Chinese medical staff. A handful of politicians politicize and stigmatize the pandemic, publicly slander and insult China. However, buck-passing won’t help clear their political responsibility for enormous loss of life of their people as a result of their poor response.

As former US President Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time". Lies evaporate under the light of truth. It is time to let facts speak for themselves. In April, I published an article entitled "The wise man does not believe in rumors" in the Bulgarian media. In May, the Xinhua News Agency published the "Reality check on 24 Lies against China on COVID-19" which refutes with adequate facts the lies fabricated by politicians from certain countries. Readers and friends who are interested may wish to read these articles. It's been a while since then, and the truth is right there if we look back. We believe that in addition to the novel coronavirus, a political virus is also spreading around. Both should be eliminated.

Justice is in people's hearts. China has made huge efforts and sacrifices in the fight against the epidemic and has made significant contributions to the international fight against it. These are widely recognized by the international community. Some politicians distort facts, spread rumors, but they will only disgrace themselves at the end of the day. The common enemy of humanity is the virus, not a country or a race. Currently, the epidemic is still spreading around the world. To cope with the severe difficulties and challenges, the world must be more united to share adversity and fight side by side. As stated in the White Paper, as long as the world people cherish hopes and dreams, embrace the idea of a community with a shared future for mankind, and unite in pursuit of a common goal, we will be able to overcome all difficulties and challenges, and build a more prosperous and beautiful world for all.

- How did COVID-19 affect the Chinese economy and ordinary people’s lives?

- There is no doubt that the epidemic has had a great impact on the Chinese economy. In the first quarter of this year, China's GDP fell by 6.8%, a rarity in the last 40 years since the reform and opening up. This is the lowest since we started publishing quarterly GDP data in 1992 and the first negative quarterly growth. During the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in May, the Chinese government did not set a specific goal for this year's economic growth, for the first time since China began to set goals for economic growth in 1994. This is mainly due to the uncertainties of both the global epidemic situation and the trade and economic development, as well as unpredictable elements facing China’s development. China has adjusted its development goals in a timely manner on the basis of economic development rules and actual conditions.  The counter-risk strategy through the "six guarantees", including the guarantee of employment, people's livelihood and main market players, is achieving results, and the fundamentals of the Chinese economy and market expectations have been stabilized.

On June 15, China's National Statistics Bureau released national economic performance data for May. Overall, major economic index continues to improve and economic operations continue to recover. In the face of internal and external pressures, the Chinese economy is showing resilience.  We have the capability of overcoming temporary difficulties and the confidence to keep moving forward.

Some highlights of the Chinese economic data in May:

Consumption continued to increase. With the epidemic under effective control, sales in the Chinese market have been improving for three consecutive months. The scale of retail sales in May is close to the level of the same month of the previous year, and growth of online commerce has accelerated. Car sales in May increased by 7% according to the China Automobile Manufacturers Association, retail sales of cosmetics, sports and entertainment products and communication equipment maintained double-digit rapid growth compared to April. This shows that the strong consumption of the large market of 1.4 billion people is still the number one engine for Chinese economic growth.

Besides, the high-tech manufacturing sector has become a new driver of China's economic growth in the face of the epidemic. In May, the value-added of high-tech industry increased by 8.9%, i.e. 4.5 percentage points higher than that of large-scale industries. The production of 3D printing equipment, smart watches, integrated wafers, and charging piles, etc. has increased by over 70%. Various new forms of digital economy are showing strong vitality in the face of the epidemic. The strategy of developing high-tech through innovative projects over the years has been proven effective. High-tech industries will continue to give strong impetus to China's economic development.

China has launched plans for large-scale "new infrastructure". The Chinese government once again put emphasis on the acceleration of new infrastructure such as 5G networks and data centers, to provide macro policy support to the recovery and restructure of the supply chain. This has undoubtedly empowered the upgrade of the global industrial chain and has enhanced the attractiveness of the Chinese market.

We need to open wider, especially in difficult times. China will continue to stick to multilateralism and globalization. While we are able to push for sustained recovery of our own economy and achieve the annual socioeconomic development goals, we will also join hands with the international community in overcoming the current difficulties and strive for the recovery of the world economy.

The photo was provided by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria. On it: H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria