By His Excellency, Li Ming
Ambassador of the PRC Solomon Islands
On the New Year’s Day of 2023, many people in China, like people in Solomon Islands, have enjoyed peaceful New Year celebrations. Young people were cheering in front of the New Year’s countdown board, screaming in the bright fireworks, and praying when the New Year’s bell rang, which were long lost scenarios in China since the outbreak of the pandemic.
All those was because not long ago, the Chinese government has decided to further optimize and adjust the COVID-19 prevention and control policy, to update it from “preventing infection” to “protecting health and preventing severe illness”.
The adjustment is a continuation of China’s efforts to fight with COVID-19. Over the past three years, China has effectively responded to five global COVID waves and avoided widespread infections with the original strain and the Delta variant, and built a strong line of defense to protect people’s lives and health.
China’s average life expectancy has risen steadily, reaching 77.93 years in 2020 and 78.2 years in 2021.
In the past three years, China has successively issued nine editions of prevention & control plans, and diagnosis & amp treatment plans. Each revision is based on the principle of “people-centered”, and reflects a pragmatic, positive and prudent attitude. The logic and original intention have never changed.
The adjustment is based on science and data. China has always adhered to the principle of practicality and science to deal with extraordinary difficulties. At the most ferocious stage of the virus, China adopted the strategy of emergency containment and protect people’s health. As the rate of severe illness and fatality of the virus has decreased and the vaccination coverage rate has increased, China implemented a “dynamic zero-COVID” policy of preventing the virus from outside and preventing rebound from inside, constantly optimizing and adjusting the prevention and control measures, responding quickly, and minimizing the impact of the epidemic on people's work and life as well as economic and social development.
By seeking truth from facts and pursuing economic progress while maintaining social stability, China has avoided widespread spread of the original variant and the Delta variant with relatively strong virulence, greatly reducing the number of severe cases and deaths, China’s efforts have bought precious time for the research and development and application of vaccines and drugs as well as the preparation of medical resources.
Today, China has effective diagnosis and treatment technology and drugs, and its capacity for medical treatment, pathogen detection and epidemiological investigation has improved. 1.4 billion people in China has been inoculated with 3.46 billion doses of vaccine, with the total vaccination rate of the whole population exceeding 90 percent.
All of these have given China the confidence to face Omicron and laid a solid foundation to manage COVID with measures as Class-B infectious diseases instead of Class-A ones.
The adjustment demonstrates China as a responsible major country.
China has not only safeguarded the lives and health of its own people, but also made important contributions to the global fight against COVID. China was the first to make vaccines an international public good, and has provided 2 billion doses of vaccines and a large amount of health supplies to the world and donated to the WHO. China, by providing vaccines, testing kits and medical supplies to Solomon Islands, has effectively supported the government and people in Solomon Islands to fight against the pandemic.
In 2020, China became the first major economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth. In 2021, China&39’s economic scale exceeded 110 trillion RMB yuan, with an average two-year growth of 5.1 percent. In 2022, China’s economy withstood challenges and sought further progress while maintaining stability. Thanks to the effective control of the pandemic, China’s manufacturing industry as a whole has not been greatly affected. China’s strong supply capacity has greatly stabilized the fragile global supply chain.
After the adjustment of COVID prevention and control policies of China, many countries have responded warmly, and the people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries will be gradually resumed to boost global economy including tourism, aviation and other industries.
China will more effectively coordinate COVID prevention and control with economic and social development, unswervingly open wider to the world, safeguard the security and stability of the global industrial and supply chain, and help restore world economic growth.
Of course, like other countries, the adjustment of COVID prevention and control policies has also brought temporary difficulties to China. China is actively responding to the peak of the infections, making every effort to expand medical resources, establish a hierarchical diagnosis and treatment mechanism, and increase medicine supply capacity.
China is also mobilizing all resources to protect the elderly with basic diseases, pregnant women, children and other fragile groups, making every effort to reduce severe cases and deaths. At present, the virus strains in China are all imported from overseas within the past two months, and no new variant has emerged in China. Health experts from many countries including Australia, U.S. have said that the main variant now spreading in China has previously been found elsewhere already, and that a new variant can emerge anywhere on the planet, which means entry restrictions targeting China are unnecessary. China believes that for all countries, COVID response measures need to be science-based and proportional. They should not be used for political purposes, there should not be discriminatory measures against certain countries.
As relevant prevention and control measures are gradually implemented, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other major Chinese cities have passed the peak of infections, and the streets are becoming bustling again.
As the saying goes, “Gloomy skies and rain might occasionally return, but every cloud has a sliver line”. China, after the pandemic, will further strengthen cooperation and exchanges with Solomon Islands and other partners, so as to bring more benefits to global economic development.