Bulgaria and China Stronger together

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China Bulgaria relations

China and Bulgaria are pooling their strength, along with that of other countries, in a joint response to the novel coronavirus pandemic

The novel coronavirus is spreading across the world. On March 7, two infections were confirmed in Bulgaria for the first time. On March 13, Bulgaria declared a state of emergency and upgraded its prevention and control measures against the epidemic.

In the face of the outbreak of the unknown virus, the Chinese government has overcome difficulties, demonstrated its sense of responsibility as a major country, and made significant contributions to the prevention and control of the global pandemic and the cause of international public health security. Although China and Bulgaria are far apart geographically, the two countries are working side by side in the war against the novel coronavirus.

At the beginning of the outbreak in China, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, National Assembly Chairperson Tsveta Karayancheva, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva sent letters to Chinese leaders to express their sympathies, support, and firm confidence that China would prevail over the epidemic. On March 18, Premier Li Keqiang spoke with Prime Minister Borissov. He commended the growing China-Bulgaria relations and noted the ongoing fight against COVID-19 in both China and Bulgaria. He expressed China’s readiness to share its containment experience with Bulgaria, provide assistance within its capacity, and facilitate Bulgaria’s purchase of urgently needed medical supplies from China via commercial channels. On the same day, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zaharieva, saying that China is ready to conduct exchanges with Bulgaria in the fields of medical treatment and epidemic prevention and control, and provide assistance within its capacity to help it tide over the difficulties.

The Chinese embassy in Bulgaria immediately established a specific mechanism with the Bulgarian government, maintaining close communication on the development of the epidemic and updating China’s prevention and control measures. My colleagues and I have provided the latest, most comprehensive and accurate anti-epidemic information through news conferences, interviews and articles, so that the Bulgarian people could understand the epidemic situation objectively and rationally. The embassy has also helped the overseas Chinese, Chinese students and Chinese companies to enhance their protection, while urging them to strictly comply with relevant prevention requirements by the Bulgarian government and fulfill their social responsibilities and obligations.

With the support of the embassy, the Chinese community in Bulgaria has taken measures far beyond the level of requirements of the Bulgarian government. They voluntarily set up “volunteer teams”, organized special vehicles to pick up returning Chinese and send them home directly from the airport for home based isolation, urged them to complete registration procedures, and assisted with the supply of daily necessities. This sense of responsibility toward oneself, the Chinese community and Bulgarian society as a whole has been highly commended by the government of Bulgaria.

While fighting the epidemic, the Chinese government has taken concrete steps to help the rest of the world fend off the virus. The video conference of experts from China and central and eastern European countries on epidemic prevention and control held on March 13 was an unprecedented and successful experiment by the 17+1 cooperation mechanism to address the urgent needs of the 17 countries to prevent the spread of the virus. Representatives from relevant institutions in China shared anti-epidemic experiences with experts and scholars from central and eastern European countries. Bulgarian Health Ministry officials expressed appreciation to the Chinese experts for sharing timely, effective and professional information, highly commended the remarkable achievements of China’s prevention and control measures, and paid tribute to their Chinese peers.

In the era of globalization, all countries share a common stake in security. No country is immune to the pandemic. It is the only correct choice for the international community to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and work together in times of adversity to fight the epidemic. At present, Europe is the epicenter of COVID-19, facing severe challenges. In the wake of the huge realistic and psychological impacts of this pandemic, a growing number of people with insight in Bulgaria have better understanding of the necessity, urgency and possibility of building a community with a shared future for mankind. The world needs to pool its strength, with a joint response to the epidemic as a first step, to build together a community with a shared future for mankind.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Bulgaria. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.