BEIJING, April 24, 2023 /CNW/ — Sixty years have passed since China dispatched its first batch of medical teams to Algeria in 1963. Since then, more than 30,000 medical workers have been sent to 76 countries and regions, providing medical services to 290 million people, said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
“Providing medical assistance to other countries is an important part of China’s work on foreign assistance,” said Wang Wenbin at a regular press conference on April 19, adding that “it’s also a shining example of China’s commitment to building a global community of health for all.”
Taking the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, Wang said “China has sent 37 expert teams to 34 countries, provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations.”
The past six decades have shown that for China, giving out medical aid has been a way of friends helping each other, Wang said.
Foreign aid efforts
Medical assistance is one form of China’s aid to other countries since the 1950s, as then Chinese leadership decided to support other developing countries’ efforts to improve their people’s lives and achieve development.
The other forms include financial and food aid as well as cooperation projects in foreign countries, especially developing countries.
From 2013 to 2018, China allocated 270.2 billion yuan (around $39 billion) for foreign assistance, 47.3 percent of which are grants, according to a white paper titled “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era,” which was issued by the State Council Information Office on January 10, 2021.
The white paper also said China had provided emergency food aid to more than 50 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, benefiting tens of millions of people.
Like the old saying -“Give people fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish, and you feed them for life,” China has gone above and beyond to just providing monetary aid and turned to cooperation projects to help strengthen the recipient countries’ abilities to develop their economies.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF) stand out as examples showing how China has cooperated with other countries, especially developing countries on technology assistance and infrastructure building to realize common development and prosperity.
As for the SSCAF, the white paper said that by the end of 2019, China had cooperated with 14 international organizations under the framework to launch 82 projects covering areas that include agricultural development, poverty reduction and aid for trade.
Spirit of sharing and supporting
This year witnessed the 10th anniversary of the BRI. “The BRI has attracted nearly $1 trillion of investment, established more than 3,000 cooperation projects in the past decade,” said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang during a press conference on March 7, adding that the initiative has “created 420,000 local jobs and helped lift almost 40 million people out of poverty.”
“The real beauty in BRI is in the spirit behind it, of sharing, that China chose to share its success with the developing countries,” said Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhary, Minister of Planning Development & Special Initiatives of Pakistan, while attending the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in late March.
Luo Zhaohui, director of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), told reporters during this year’s Two Sessions that China’s assistance is akin to helping friends, citing the example that China was among the first batch of countries extending support to Türkiye and Syria after the deadly earthquakes hit in February.
Noting Chinese people and people from other countries have a shared destiny, Xu Wei, spokesperson for CIDCA, said that the world’s largest developing country has provided assistance to other developing countries within its capacity under South-South Cooperation.
During a regular press conference on April 10, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang said that China is all along committed to supporting the economic and social development of developing countries, including those in Africa.