Nowadays, almost all the great powers consider foreign aid to be a way of showing off their capabilities and sense of responsibility toward international obligations. In recent years, China has made significant commitments to foreign aid. In fact, China and a number of African countries have forged strong relationships, and are now all-weather brothers. When Ebola broke out in March 2014, China was right at the forefront of offering medical support to affected countries. This is the largest-ever medical aid program implemented by China to date, and has created a new chapter in Sino-African friendship and the history of international aid.
Ebola is not a new disease. It has appeared several times since 1976. But the 2014 outbreak in countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and so on was unusual. On Aug 8 2014, the WHO determined that the Ebola epidemic was an international public health emergency. In just a few months, the death toll increased to thousands. The WHO sounded a global alarm, and China immediately deployed its emergency humanitarian relief mechanism.
“The situation is quite severe, far beyond the capability of those affected countries. Time is life. The international community should take action now,” said Wang Yi, foreign minister of China.
Over that summer, China’s efficiency wowed the world. The Chinese government rented 23 airplanes, flying over three continents and through the air space of 18 countries, to transport medicine, medical equipment, medical protective clothing and thermo-detectors to the affected countries. For those African nations, this was timely help. The WHO highly appreciated China’s actions.
This was China’s biggest emergency humanitarian health aid program to date, and the crisis was also unprecedented in scale. In the face of the most potent infections of the 21st century, more than a thousand Chinese experts and military medical staff went to the affected countries, risking their own lives to treat and cure local people.
In September 2014, China transported its P3 biology laboratory to Sierra Leone. This is the most advanced laboratory that China has ever transported to another country. In November 2014, the Ebola treatment center built by China was brought into use in Liberia.
The Chinese staff spent only 28 days constructing this 100-bed treatment center, which is the only Ebola treatment center run by a foreign country in Liberia. And Chinese medical teams in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone stayed in place in the face of the Ebola outbreak. Many Ebola patients were in critical condition when they arrived at the Chinese medical centers. But under the careful treatment of Chinese doctors, they recovered. The Chinese medical staff forged a common bond of affection with the local people and moved the leaders of those countries.
“You’ve been proven to be a friend in need. That’s the best friend you can have. It’s when you are down and out, when you are in trouble, when you feel hardships, and that person is still with you and comes to you, you really know that person is a true friend. Thank you so much. Convey it to the president, government and people of China that we are always with them,” said Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia.
“China is the first country that sent items to us ... They provided us with support,” said Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone.
“We do appreciate China, as a great power, standing with us while our country is in this severe situation. This means that the cooperation between the two countries will go much farther in the future,” said Alpha Conde, president of Guinea.
Four batches of humanitarian aid, and more than 1200 Chinese experts and medical staff have left China’s mark on Africa. In September 2015, the WHO declared that the Ebola outbreak would come to an end this year. But China’s efforts on the continent continue.
China is communicating with the affected African countries regarding their reconstruction needs after defeating the epidemic, and cooperating on other related issues. China will continue to play a constructive role in the development and revitalization of these countries.
Fighting Ebola has demonstrated China’s responsibility as a great power, and this kind of help is becoming all the more precious as catastrophes have occurred more frequently around the world in recent years.