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Top diplomat urges nations to work in unity to beat virus
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a video meeting with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers in Beijing, May 13, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Countries should overcome their differences and friction and focus on tackling COVID-19 and saving people's lives, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday.

Addressing a virtual conference of foreign ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization members, Wang called for countries to cooperate in fighting the novel coronavirus threat.

No agenda is more important than that of saving people's lives, and no task is more urgent than that of countries working in unity, as the virus is infecting tens of thousands of people and killing thousands of people every day, he said.

He added that people in all countries should rise above pessimism and panic and oppose politicizing the pandemic and stigmatizing certain countries, calling for international media outlets to remain reasonable and carry out truthful, just and balanced reporting.

China treasures the valuable support it received from other SCO members when the nation was at the most difficult stage of containing the outbreak, Wang said.

The country has shared with them its experience in disease control, diagnosis and treatment without reservation, sent medical teams to support their fight against the pandemic, provided them with urgently needed medical supplies and helped with their purchases in China, he said.

Calling on SCO members to draw up an action plan for disease control as soon as possible, Wang said China will continue to provide support to other members to the best of its ability and cooperate with them to share information and develop drugs and vaccines.

The pandemic is imposing greater downward pressure on the global economy, and SCO members should work to ensure smooth operation of their regional supply chains, Wang said, calling for the establishment of fast tracks to expedite travel by key businesspeople and technicians and shipments of important supplies and raw materials.

Wang also urged SCO member countries to champion multilateralism, support the World Health Organization in leading the global fight against the pandemic and play a bigger role in improving global governance.

"The international system centering on the United Nations, which has been established since the end of World War II, is being damaged ever more rampantly by unilateral behavior and bullying," he said.

Founded in 2001, the SCO includes India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It also has four observer states and six dialogue partners.

China has sent teams of medical experts to Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and working groups to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to help them tackle COVID-19.

In March, it held a virtual conference to share its disease control experience with 19 countries, including six SCO members.