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State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Speaks on the Phone with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg

2020-04-29

On 28 April, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

Wang stressed that as COVID-19 continues to spread in multiple places, solidarity and cooperation is the only right choice for all countries. China will never forget the help extended by Austria when it was facing the challenge of the disease, and will continue to provide Austria with much-needed medical supplies and facilitate its purchase and shipment of such materials from China. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Austria, and the two sides should take this important opportunity to plan and design the celebrations together. Wang said that through the test of COVID-19, the friendly strategic partnership between the two countries will grow even stronger.

Wang noted that under the leadership of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Austria was among the first European countries to take decisive and robust measures to contain COVID-19. These measures have produced positive results and brought the virus largely under control, which has enabled the country to steadily resume production and restore normal life and work in an orderly manner. Wang congratulated Foreign Minister Schallenberg on the progress his country has made, and emphasized that as COVID-19 continues to affect people's life, the two countries should scale up information and experience sharing, establish a "fast-track lane" for essential travels, and explore effective ways to keep the industrial and supply chains stable.

Wang pointed out that international cooperation on COVID-19 requires WHO's professional knowledge. African countries with weaker health systems need WHO's help and support even more. Unfortunately, WHO has become a target of unfair accusations and slanders in the past weeks. Claiming that WHO should be obedient to the biggest contributor is a typical example of hegemonic mindset; and cutting funding to the organization simply because it is deemed non-obedient fully exposes the arrogance of a big power. As international relations move toward greater democracy, international affairs should be discussed by all countries rather than dictated by a few major powers. China and Austria should therefore support and encourage WHO to play its mandated role in global COVID-19 response.

Schallenberg said that the immediate priority for the international community is to fight COVID-19 together. It is not appropriate to question WHO's role and legitimacy at this point. Virus is the common challenge to all countries. Austria's relations with China have been consolidated and taken forward during the joint fight against the disease. The two countries have done their best to support each other at the most trying times. He thanked China for providing medical supplies and facilitating the purchases. As the virus is largely under control in both countries, the two sides need to strengthen mutual learning, ensure necessary people-to-people exchanges and restore social and economic order in due course. The two sides should also prepare for the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year to take the bilateral relationship to a new height.

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