A Brother in Weal and Woe, China aids Afghanistan with medical supplies

KABUL (AT News): In the past five months since arrival in Afghanistan, I have met friends from all walks of life and been deeply impressed by the Afghan hospitality, diligence and courage.

I have come to realize that the traditional China-Afghanistan friendship not only stems from the mountains and rivers connecting us but also is rooted in the fearlessness and solidarity of two ancient civilizations through difficulties and dangers. Our cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic offers a most vivid example.

My memory is fresh on how our Afghan friends reached out to help us in the most trying and critical phase of the outbreak in China. President Ghani, Second Vice President Danish and other Afghan leaders, and organizations such as the Afghanistan-China Friendship Association and the Silk Road Research Centre expressed their sympathy and support in various forms to China. I was impressed when several Afghan friends who had studied in China braved heavy snow and potential terrorist attacks to over 500 pharmacies in three cities. They finally bought 20,000 masks and asked the Chinese Embassy to deliver them to people in need back in our home country. These valuable supplies were delivered to Dalian in China’s Liaoning Province, a great help to the local people. Another friend came to the embassy with donations. An Afghan student in Wuhan published an open letter, saying that he was determined to fight the epidemic together with the Chinese people. To our true friends in need, these will always be remembered.

As the virus spread, the first confirmed COVID-19 case was recorded in Afghanistan at the end of February and the number of cases began to increase since early March. China is paying close attention to the situation and doing its best to support Afghanistan in pandemic control while continuing our fight at home. On 20 March, Chinese medical and health experts and their counterparts from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health held a four-hour video conference, sharing the Chinese experience without reservation.

On 1 April, after nearly a month of coordination between the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan and relevant domestic authorities in China, a chartered plane from Xinjiang landed at the Kabul airport, with much-needed supplies for pandemic control, including personal protective equipment such as face masks and coveralls and medical devices such as test kits, ventilators, defibrillators, sputum aspirators, oxygen generators and infusion pumps, with a total weight of 4.5 tons. Vice President Danish and I were at the airport to witness the handover from the embassy to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Public Health, Defense and Interior. Vice President Danish took the supply box I handed him and praised the true brotherhood between our two countries. The handover ceremony was widely reported in Afghan media, with numerous photos of the moving scene.

The Chinese donations in kind have not come by easily. On the one hand, although China has made some progress in fighting COVID-19, it still faces the dual pressure of resurgence at home and importation of cases from abroad, which necessitates huge demands for these supplies. On the other hand, Afghanistan has interrupted its air and land connections with the outside world and as a result shipment has been very challenging. Against this backdrop, the Chinese Embassy has been in close contact with the Ministry of Public Health since early March to better understand the needs of the Afghan side. We have also been closely communicating with stakeholders inside China on the relevant issues. It was through joint government and enterprise effort involving China International Development Cooperation Agency, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Jack Ma Foundation and a number of Chinese enterprises that the supplies were collected and delivered to Kabul on a chartered plane coordinated by the embassy.

I feel gratified to learn that some of the Chinese donations have been delivered to the front line in Herat province to contribute to pandemic control and save lives. Many Afghan friends expressed gratitude to me for the help from China. The embassy is still in close touch with government agencies and relevant enterprises back in China, hoping to mobilize more protective and medical supplies for Afghanistan to protect the health and safety of more people here.

The COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the whole world have been unprecedented. As a true believer in the vision of a community of shared future for mankind, China is making great effort to contribute its part to the world’s fight against the pandemic with a high sense of responsibility while protecting the lives and health of the Chinese people. President Xi Jinping has had phone conversations with more than 20 foreign and international organization leaders in the past two months. The Chinese government donated USD 20 million to the World Health Organization, has provided assistance in kind or is in the process of doing so for 127 countries and 4 international organizations, dispatched 13 teams of medical experts to 11 countries and held more than 70 expert video conferences with more than 150 countries and international organizations. Local governments, companies and the civil society have donated medical supplies to more than 100 countries and regions and international organizations. Chinese enterprises are making every effort and working around the clock to produce necessary pandemic control supplies for all countries in the world. All these have won appreciation of the international community.

As developing countries, China and Afghanistan have all along lived together in peace and supported each other in difficult times. Against the common challenge of the global pandemic, China will continue strengthening cooperation with the Afghan government and people and aiding within its capacity for the benefit of our two peoples. COVID-19 knows no border or race. People all over the world should unite and sincerely help each other to build a community of shared future in health and create a better future for all mankind.