China’s Xi Pledges $2 Billion To Help Fight Coronavirus

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday his country will provide $2 billion over two years to help other countries respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The leader of the world’s second-largest economy, where the disease known as Covid-19 emerged late last year, was speaking via video conferencing at the opening ceremony of a key World Health Organization meeting.

“China will provide 2 billion U.S dollars over two years to help with Covid-19 response, and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries,“ Xi said, according to an official English translation.

Xi added that when a vaccine for the disease is available, it “will be made a global public good.” Some Chinese companies are at the forefront of development and testing for a Covid-19 vaccine.

The 73rd World Health Assembly, whose annual gathering kicked off Monday, is a decision-making body of the WHO, which is the United Nations’ specialized global health agency. The meeting of 194 members typically occurs in Geneva, Switzerland, where delegates agree upon the organization’s leadership, priorities and budget. This year, due to the coronavirus, the shortened session is set to run virtually between Monday and Tuesday.

Covid-19 emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has since spread to the rest of the world in a global pandemic that’s killed more than 315,000 people and threatened economic recession as governments limit large gatherings in an effort to control the outbreak.

Ahead of the assembly, at least 116 nations expressed support for a draft resolution led by the European Union and Australia calling for review of the origins and spread of the coronavirus, Reuters reported Monday. If two-thirds of the 194-member assembly back the resolution, it will be put forward on Tuesday, the newswire said.

China has pushed back against calls for an international investigation into the origins of the virus.

In his opening speech on Monday, Xi did not specifically mention the draft resolution or China’s view on it. He insisted that China has been open, transparent and responsible all along in providing information to the WHO and other countries, and has shared the genome sequence of the coronavirus.

“We also need to continue supporting global research by scientists on the source and transmission routes of the virus,“ Xi said.

“China supports the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to Covid-19 after it is brought under control, to sum up our experience and address deficiencies,” he added. “This work should be led by science and professionalism, led by the WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner.”

— CNBC

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