China sends medical experts and supplies . . .
China sent its third group of medical experts and supplies to Italy on Wednesday as the COVID-19 outbreak ravages the country. There are currently some 50 Chinese doctors working in Italy, bringing experience from the Hubei frontline where the virus outbreak began. China’s action was praised by the Italian government and the general public. Italy’s early March request for help from its European Union partners went unanswered, making China’s assistance that much more appreciated.
Long standing Beijing-Rome relationship . . .
Italy has had a long-standing medical and industrial relationship with China. The country was one of the first Western countries to enter the Chinese market, establishing factories and large trade missions in China in the 1970s. The two countries also have a history of collaborating in the field of emergency medicine – Italy played a critical role helping China establish emergency response phone lines and its first emergency hospitals in Beijing and Sichuan Province. Last year, Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), making it the first G7 nation to officially endorse the initiative.
Advancing the ‘Health Silk Road’ . . .
Chinese President Xi Jinping called the medical assistance a ‘Health Silk Road’ initiative in a phone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. After getting its outbreak under control domestically, China began and continues to send medical aid overseas, favouring its BRI allies such as Iran, Pakistan, Serbia, and Italy. Similar to Italy, Canada and China also share a history of medical ties, dating back to medical missionaries in the 1910s. Canadian Dr. Norman Bethune, who is a household name in China, is widely known for his humanitarian work during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Currently, Canadian doctors are communicating with their counterparts in China, ensuring an active flow of knowledge on how best to deal with the current situation. Medical and diplomatic links between Canada and China will be critical for managing this global pandemic.
- The Diplomat: China-Italy relations: The BRI effect -- Insights from Romeo Orlandi.
- Forbes: China’s ‘Health Silk Road’ gets a boost from COVID-19
- The Wall Street Journal: Chinese doctors and supplies arrive in Italy