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Builders of Silk Road of health

By ZHANG XIAO | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-14 07:45
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Joint fight against novel coronavirus highlights the profound friendship between China and Kazakhstan [Photo: Ma Xue Jing / China Daily]

With the novel coronavirus posing a threat to the health and life of people in China and Kazakhstan, the two countries have pushed forward their permanent comprehensive strategic partnership and have lost no time in implementing anti-pandemic cooperation to control the spread of virus in a relatively short time. They successfully built an "anti-pandemic fortress" and gradually restored normal exchanges at all levels and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, setting an example in the anti-virus fight for the international community.

The pandemic cannot stop the Chinese and Kazakh people from offering a helping hand to each other. When the pandemic broke out in China in January, the Kazakh government and social forces provided China with anti-pandemic supplies such as masks and medicines through various channels and many Kazakh internet users offered sympathy and support, cheering the Chinese people in their anti-virus fight with cries of "Stay strong, China" and "Stay strong, Wuhan".

After the virus hit Kazakhstan in March, China donated a large quantity of medicines, masks, ventilators and other medical materials. In particular, a Chinese medical expert group went to Kazakhstan in April to guide their Kazakh counterparts in their pandemic prevention and control work, which highlighted the friendship between the two countries and was widely praised by all walks of life in Kazakhstan.

In September, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid an official visit to Kazakhstan and exchanged views with the Kazakh side on deepening anti-pandemic cooperation and ultimately defeating the virus. They also reached an important consensus on building a "Silk Road of Health" and a community of health for all. Both sides firmly supported the World Health Organization being the coordinator of global anti-pandemic cooperation and opposed politicizing the pandemic situation and labeling the virus.

Within its capacity, China will continue to assist Kazakhstan in the anti-virus fight, including assisting it with the procurement of medical materials, expert training, experience sharing and medicine development.

China will also accelerate the establishment of an information notification mechanism for major pandemic diseases.

Kazakhstan's first president Nursultan Nazarbayev highly valued China taking the lead in successfully fighting against the pandemic and becoming the only major country to achieve positive economic growth.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev thanked China for providing anti-pandemic material assistance and sending medical experts, and said he hoped that the two countries would deepen their cooperation in vaccine research and development. He stressed that Kazakhstan's policy of developing friendly relations with China will never change, which is the established strategic policy of his country.

The two countries have launched a plan to facilitate the exchange of key project and business personnel, allowing the first batch of 1,000 Chinese and Kazakh experts to resume work.

The pandemic cannot stop the cooperation between the two countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. According to the statistics released by the Chinese side, the bilateral trade volume reached $9.35 billion in the first half of this year, only a slight drop of 1.7 percent year-on-year. Of this, $5.28 billion was China's imports from Kazakhstan, increasing 18.5 percent year-on-year. China's direct investment in Kazakhstan was $260 million, up 136.4 percent year-on-year.

These figures reflect the strong resilience of the practical cooperation between China and Kazakhstan. During the pandemic, the China-Europe freight train, dubbed "the steel camel", has continued to traverse Eurasia. E-commerce, online education, big data, 5G and other new technologies and business formats are thriving. Cultural and entertainment industries, such as film, publishing and online gaming, are embracing new opportunities. The Belt and Road Initiative has been brought back to life in new forms.

It was impressive that people of the two countries encouraged and cheered each other on through online videos and other channels during the pandemic. The Chinese embassy hosted an online Chinese language summer camp, and organized a short video competition featuring the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as a Chinese song contest and an online quiz about China. These online cultural activities attracted thousands of participants, hundreds of thousands of views and reposts. Many of the contestants have become internet celebrities.

The country has been in the grip of Chinese film and TV drama fever. The Chinese TV series All is Well and Wonderful Life are popular in Kazakhstan, and the influential Astana TV station launched a Chinese Film Month. The people-to-people exchanges between China and Kazakhstan are increasingly active.

The dawn of victory over the pandemic in China and Kazakhstan has emerged. Both sides agreed to resume all-round cooperation in an orderly manner in the post-pandemic era against the background of standardized pandemic prevention and control measures.

The two countries should promote the construction of the Belt and Road and further dock it with Kazakhstan's new economic policy called "Bright Road", continue to expand the transportation network between China and Kazakhstan and speed up the restoration of the freight capacity at the border ports.

China welcomes Kazakhstan's participation in the third China International Import Expo in Shanghai. It will strengthen cooperation in medicine and health through sharing its research results, experimental data, new medicines and equipment, and work with Kazakhstan to build a "Silk Road of health".

The two countries should strive to construct the "digital Silk Road" by strengthening their digital economic cooperation, and researching and promoting new internet technologies such as digital health codes, online shopping, internet-based education and online medical care.

They should also exchange what is needed in the research and development of automation equipment such as self-driving cars, unmanned aerial vehicles and robots, so as to adapt to the new lifestyle in the post-pandemic era.

China and Kazakhstan should deepen people-to-people exchanges, strengthen their cooperation in youth, education and culture.

The two sides should bring in cultural products such as excellent films and TV series, books, online games, short videos to promote communication between the two peoples.

As the saying goes, sunshine always comes after the rain, the two countries should hold the firm belief that China-Kazakhstan cooperation in various fields will usher in a more brilliant future.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan. 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.

If you have a specific expertise and would like to contribute to China Daily, please contact us at opinion@chinadaily.com.cn, and comment@chinadaily.com.cn

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