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Friendship proves its mettle

By JOSÉ LUIS BERNAL | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-09-17 07:52
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Since the novel coronavirus outbreak became a global health emergency, most countries around the world have issued recommendations for social distancing and self-isolation, in addition to imposing restrictions on international travel and suspending non-essential activities. Nonetheless, during this challenging year, Mexico and China have strengthened their ties in order to help contain the pandemic and sustain the ever expanding multi-sectoral links between them.

On the 210th anniversary of Mexican Independence Day, I want to outline the many ways in which Mexico and China have strengthened their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Mexico expressed its solidarity with the Chinese people and government, and Mexican companies supplied personal protection equipment to China. Later on, as the pandemic expanded and the situation became more difficult in Mexico, the country became highly reliant on medical and equipment supplies from China.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone in early April. This was followed by a conversation between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi aimed at ramping up cooperation to deal with the emergency. As a result, a special air connection, or green channel, was established between Shanghai and Mexico City, which allowed us to acquire essential inputs for the protection of Mexican medical personnel and equipment to assist patients. The support of the Chinese government has been vital to facilitate the timely operations of cargo flights, transporting ventilators and millions of units of protective medical equipment.

We also received special assistance from national and local authorities to facilitate the repatriation of Mexican citizens who were initially stranded in China because of the travel restrictions. Also, local authorities and companies have expressed solidarity with Mexican entities by sending masks and other material as donations.

China's role in sharing knowledge and lessons about this pandemic has been fundamental to understanding its development, treatment and implications. Coordinating responses with and through the World Health Organization, coordinating actions among G20 leaders and sharing information via the United Nations system have been essential in this regard. Also, Chinese central and local health authorities and their Mexican counterparts have interacted through several videoconferences on the best practices on how to respond and contain the virus. It is worth mentioning in this respect the ministerial videoconference with the ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean countries that Mexican Foreign Minister Ebrard and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang headed in July. One of the main outcomes of this meeting to strengthen cooperation in the fight against the virus was the Chinese proposal of a financial facility for Latin American countries to improve their access to vaccines and medicines to face the pandemic.

Lately, our attention has focused on the research and development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, mainly by the phase 3 testing in Mexico of Chinese trial formulas, which if successful could lead to the timely access to vaccines by the Mexican people.

Despite this being the world's worst pandemic in 100 years, the exchanges between Mexico and China have not ceased nor decreased. Instead, the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership continues diversifying and intensifying in every possible field.

Even during the global health emergency, Mexico and China held the 17th Meeting of the Bilateral Political Mechanism, the third meeting of the Political Consultations on Multilateral Affairs, and the eighth meeting of the High Level Economic Group.

We continue promoting trade and market access for Mexican products so that bilateral exchanges keep at least the level of $100 billion reached in 2019. The Ministry of Commerce of China and the Ministry of Economy of Mexico signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month to create a subgroup within the High Level Economic Group to promote unimpeded trade between both countries.

People-to-people contacts, including tourism, academic exchanges and cultural activities, have been one of the most affected areas of the bilateral relationship. However, the two countries are working hard on recovering flight connectivity, and the Mexican tourism industry is preparing to receive Chinese visitors through a new promotional strategy beginning this month.

Today, Mexico is the world's 15th-largest economy, a top 10 exporting country, and before the pandemic, it was the world's seventh most visited country reflecting our international openness, economic strength, millenary culture, natural wonders, fantastic food and fascinating traditions. The new platform of Cultural Diplomacy and a new Global Economic Promotion campaign will bring added impetus to the projection of a comprehensive image of Mexico in the world.

This year has been a year full of lessons on the importance of solidarity among us, and Mexico and China, as two great civilizations, have demonstrated the strength of their solidarity, the resilience of their peoples, the truthfulness of their friendship, and their shared optimism for the future.

This challenging year has demanded new approaches to development, solidarity and cooperation, both at the local and international levels. The good news is that the relationship between Mexico and China is stronger and that we continue working together for the well-being of our peoples.

The author is the ambassador of Mexico to China. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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