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China Donates to Countries Hit by Covid Pandemic
« on: April 08, 2020, 06:03:04 AM » - China, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, is moving to polish up its battered image by scrambling to donate medical equipment and other resources to countries reeling from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Countries in South and Southeast Asia are receiving from Beijing huge shipments of medical equipment, personal protective gear and test kits, as well as medical advice on how to treat victims of the contagious and deadly virus, officials said.

In Malaysia – where coronavirus cases now top 2,000 – health authorities held a teleconference this week with experts from China to discuss how to rein in the infection rate, which shot up in recent weeks, said Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of the Ministry of Health.

“We were looking into learning new things to help us fight COVID-19 … There are new medicines from China…,” he told reporters, adding that some of the drugs may not yet be approved for use in Malaysia and their side effects still needed to be studied.

China had already supplied Malaysia with protective gear, hand sanitizers and other materials for the fight against the virus, he said.

Beijing even offered to send doctors to Malaysia, Noor Hisham said, “but, thank God, so far we have enough doctors.”

‘We will reciprocate their kindness’

Aside from Malaysia, Beijing in recent days has sent countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand large shipments of aid packages, including donated N95 face masks, medical masks, goggles, protective suits, kits for COVID-19 testing, and other paraphernalia, according to officials from their governments.

Analysts have coined a name for the outreach: ‘mask diplomacy.’

Some argue that Beijing was on a damage-control drive after coming under criticism for covering up the crisis in its early stages when the virus emerged in the central city of Wuhan last November. China was also faulted for not giving the world early enough warning.

“Among its serious errors at the outset of the outbreak in Wuhan was its failure to communicate,” the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think-tank, said in a report this week. “Local authorities withheld information about the virus from the public and the central government and silenced doctors who spoke out.”

According to Rommel Banlaoi, a Philippine expert on China, Beijing, through its outreach to its neighbors during the coronavirus outbreak, is sending them aid “to continuously build its image as a benign and responsible major power.”

“China also wants to refute Western criticism of its strong approach to deal with the pandemic. Now that China is recovering from the harsh effects of the pandemic, it wants to tell the world that China can offer useful lessons from its recent experience,” Banlaoi, who heads the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, a local think-tank, told BenarNews.

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