China’s President Xi Jinping Throws His Support Behind an Intellectual Property Rights Waiver for COVID Vaccines
On May 21, 2021, President Xi Jinping of China attended the Global Health Summit via video link in Beijing upon invitation and backed an initiative to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. He also stated China would support Chinese companies transferring vaccine-related technology to other developing countries and carry out joint production with them.
The full translated text of the speech entitled “Working Together to Build a Global Community of Health for All” as provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China follows. The original Chinese text is available here.
Your Excellency Prime Minister Mario Draghi,
Your Excellency President Ursula von der Leyen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the Global Health Summit. Last year, the G20 successfully held an Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 and the Riyadh Summit. Many important common understandings were reached on promoting global solidarity against the virus and boosting world economic recovery.
The past year and more have seen repeated resurgence and frequent mutations of the coronavirus. The most serious pandemic in a century is still wreaking havoc. To clinch an early victory against COVID-19 and restore economic growth remains the top priority for the international community. G20 members need to shoulder responsibilities in global cooperation against the virus. In the meantime, we need to draw on experience both positive and otherwise, and lose no time in remedying deficiencies, closing loopholes and strengthening weak links in a bid to enhance preparedness and capacity for coping with major public health emergencies. Here, I want to make five points on what we need to do.
First, we must put people and their lives first. The battle with COVID-19 is one for the people and by the people. What has happened proves that to completely defeat the virus, we must put people’s lives and health front and center, demonstrate a great sense of political responsibility and courage, and make extraordinary responses to an extraordinary challenge. No effort must be spared to attend every case, save every patient, and truly respect the value and dignity of every human life. Meanwhile, it is also important to minimize the potential impact on people’s life and maintain general order in our society.
Second, we must follow science-based policies and ensure a coordinated and systemic response. Faced with this new infectious disease, we should advocate the spirit of science, adopt a science-based approach, and follow the law of science. The fight against COVID-19 is an all-out war that calls for a systemic response to coordinate pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, balance targeted routine COVID-19 protocols and emergency measures, and ensure both epidemic control and socio-economic development. G20 members need to adopt responsible macro-economic policies and step up coordination to keep the global industrial and supply chains safe and smooth. It is essential to give continued support by such means as debt suspension and development aid to developing countries, especially vulnerable countries facing exceptional difficulties.
Third, we must stick together and promote solidarity and cooperation. The pandemic is yet another reminder that we humanity rise and fall together with a shared future. Confronted by a pandemic like COVID-19, we must champion the vision of building a global community of health for all, tide over this trying time through solidarity and cooperation, and firmly reject any attempt to politicize, label or stigmatize the virus. Political manipulation would not serve COVID-19 response on the domestic front. It would only disrupt international cooperation against the virus and bring greater harm to people around the world.
Fourth, we must uphold fairness and equity as we strive to close the immunization gap. A year ago, I proposed that vaccines should be made a global public good. Today, the problem of uneven vaccination has become more acute. It is imperative for us to reject vaccine nationalism and find solutions to issues concerning the production capacity and distribution of vaccines, in order to make vaccines more accessible and affordable in developing countries. Major vaccine-developing and producing countries need to take up their responsibility to provide more vaccines to developing countries in urgent need, and they also need to support their businesses in joint research and authorized production with other countries having the relevant capacity. Multilateral financial institutions should provide inclusive financing support for vaccine procurement of developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) should speed up efforts under the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility.
Fifth, we must address both the symptoms and root causes as we improve the governance system. The pandemic is an extensive test of the global health governance system. It is important that we strengthen and leverage the role of the UN and the WHO and improve the global disease prevention and control system to better prevent and respond to future pandemics. It is important that we uphold the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, fully heed the views of developing countries, and better reflect their legitimate concerns. It is also important that we enhance our capacity of monitoring, early-warning and emergency response, our capacity of treatment of major pandemics, of contingency reserve and logistics, of fighting disinformation, and of providing support to developing countries.
In this unprecedented battle against the pandemic, China has, while receiving support and help from many countries, mounted a massive global humanitarian operation. At the 73rd World Health Assembly held in May last year, I announced five measures that China would take to support global anti-pandemic cooperation. Implementation of those measures is well underway. Notwithstanding the limited production capacity and enormous demand at home, China has honored its commitment by providing free vaccines to more than 80 developing countries in urgent need and exporting vaccines to 43 countries. We have provided 2 billion US dollars in assistance for the COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in developing countries hit by the pandemic. We have sent medical supplies to more than 150 countries and 13 international organizations, providing more than 280 billion masks, 3.4 billion protective suits and 4 billion testing kits to the world. A cooperation mechanism has been established for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 41 African hospitals, and construction for the China-assisted project of the Africa CDC headquarters officially started at the end of last year. Important progress has also been made in the China-UN joint project to set up in China a global humanitarian response depot and hub. China is fully implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for Poorest Countries and has so far put off debt repayment exceeding 1.3 billion US dollars, the highest deferral amount among G20 members.
In continued support for global solidarity against COVID-19, I wish to announce the following:
– China will provide an additional 3 billion US dollars in international aid over the next three years to support COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries.
– Having already supplied 300 million doses of vaccines to the world, China will provide still more vaccines to the best of its ability.
– China supports its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production with them.
– Having announced support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, China also supports the World Trade Organization and other international institutions in making an early decision on this matter.
– China proposes setting up an international forum on vaccine cooperation for vaccine-developing and producing countries, companies and other stakeholders to explore ways of promoting fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca said, “We are all waves of the same sea.” Let us join hands and stand shoulder to shoulder with each other to firmly advance international cooperation against COVID-19, build a global community of health for all, and work for a healthier and brighter future for humanity.
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