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Arab countries say outbreak shows growing need for multilateralism

By Liu Xuan | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-13 09:05

Xie Fuzhan (left), the president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, delivers a speech at a webinar China-MENA Cooperation under the COVID-19: Traditional Friendship& Common Future, on Saturday. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

Cooperation between China and the Middle East countries in the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak have set an example for the establishment of a community with a shared future, said officials and experts from home and abroad, calling for enhanced cooperation and multilateralism.

The measures and policies adopted by Chinese government have won more time for the world to study the novel coronavirus and take preventive measures, said Moustapha Saphariny, former Palestinian ambassador to China, during an international webinar.

"The Chinese unfortunately became the first victims of the epidemic, but they united and fought it," he said. "But China also unreservedly shared its experience with more than 150 countries and many international organizations to help everyone fight the virus."

It provided assistance to all Arab countries, including Palestine, such as sharing its experience through video conferences or sending medical staff, and translating documents into Arabic, Saphariny said, adding that China helped many Arab countries establish factories to produce personal protective equipment.

The online conference, China-MENA Cooperation under the COVID-19: Traditional Friendship & Common Future, was organized on Saturday jointly by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China-Africa Institute and University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

It featured officials, scholars and experts from China and countries in the Middle East and North Africa, discussing cooperation between the two sides on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Close cooperation

Since the start of the outbreak, China and the Arab countries have worked together to help each other, shared information in time and carried out close cooperation, said Zhai Jun, the Chinese special envoy for Middle East affairs.

"At the most difficult time in China's fight, leaders of these countries and regional organizations expressed their solidarity with the Chinese. The governments and peoples also offered China support in different forms," the envoy said.

Hamid M.K. Al-Naimiy, the chancellor of the University of Sharjah, said the friendship between China and the UAE was fully demonstrated during the pandemic as the two countries supported each other through the hard time.

"For example, many Chinese donated material to us, and technology companies in our country also made their contributions to China's fight," he said.

Turki Bin Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, said the two countries gave each other a lot of help and kept communicating closely after the pandemic started.

In April, two companies from China and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement that Beijing would help Riyadh establish a laboratory to cooperate and study epidemic prevention, he said.

The epidemic has shown that the destinies of all countries are closely linked as a community with a shared destiny, said Zhai, the Chinese envoy.

"Whether dealing with the pandemic, helping the global economy recover, or restoring international order, we must choose the road of unity and cooperation, and should adhere to multilateralism," he said.

"In the new situation, we must cooperate more closely than ever before to deal with the pandemic and the various challenges that may emerge now and in the future."

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