The coronavirus pandemic has taught the world many lessons. Although the most important ones are yet to be learned, we can draw some conclusions. Against the backdrop of strict measures across the world to curb the spread of the virus, China has set an example of solidarity by extending a helping hand not only to its neighbors but also to countries with which it shares no land or sea borders.
One such country is Azerbaijan, with which China has a long-standing friendship, and partnership through the Belt and Road Initiative.
The month of April allows Azerbaijan and China to look at the “old pages” of bilateral ties, identify new priorities and contours of cooperation, as April 2 marked 28 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Azerbaijan.
On this significant day, a ceremony for the transfer of medical supplies from China to Azerbaijan was held at Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was attended by China’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min. The event was of particular importance as it demonstrated the close friendship and mutual trust between Beijing and Baku.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, China and Azerbaijan have provided each other support. Local authorities and public organizations in Azerbaijan, including the Sumgait Executive Authority, Nizami Ganjavi International Center and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation have supplied face masks, gloves and other necessary medical equipment to China.
A video titled “Let’s support China, support Wuhan!” prepared by the Nizami Ganjavi Center is a reflection of the deep friendship between Azerbaijan and China in difficult times. On April 3, as a symbol of Azerbaijan’s solidarity with countries hit hard by the pandemic, a projection of the Chinese flag accompanied by Chinese music was shown at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku. And on April 4, China officially mourned the deaths of thousands of Chinese citizens who fell victim to the virus.
While China has largely contained the virus at home, the pandemic is intensifying in former Soviet republics and European countries. China began to provide assistance for many countries, including Azerbaijan, to help them fight the virus. In early March, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Health Commission jointly organized a multilateral videoconference with Eurasian countries, including Azerbaijan, where experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and leading Chinese epidemiologists explained the situation in China and shared their experiences in preventing and controlling the outbreak, and treating COVID-19 patients.
And during a videoconference organized by Beijing, Chinese and Azerbaijani experts conducted an in-depth exchange of information on virus prevention and control measures, and COVID-19 treatment. Also, as an expression of friendship, China provided Azerbaijan with 5,000 test kits.
Besides, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Group have also helped Azerbaijan in many ways to fight the pandemic. Humanitarian aid from Chinese foundations, comprising face masks, test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and digital thermometers, too, has helped Azerbaijan control the spread of the virus at home.
To be sure, China will continue to support Azerbaijan, share its experiences in combating the pandemic and work hand-in-hand with Azerbaijan, as well as help other countries to fight the virus. While the European Union turned its back on some of its partner economies when they sought help, China offered them assistance without any conditions. By doing so, China gained even more trust of not only those countries but also the international community as a whole.
And I am sure that after the end of the pandemic, China’s friendship with Azerbaijan and other countries will become even stronger, the Belt and Road Initiative will acquire a whole new meaning, and the interest of countries in China and its projects will increase.
As President Xi Jinping said at the recent extraordinary G20 summit, the international community now needs to build trust, jointly respond to difficulties, work together, and deepen cooperation to defeat the virus. And after the pandemic is effectively contained, all countries should take measures to put their frayed relations back on the stable development track.
The author is director of the international experts’ club EurAsiaAz, and editor-in-chief of Azerbaijan’s news agency Vzglyad.az
The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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