China to boost global health cooperation and hold clean, green Winter Olympics
China will boost cooperation with the World Health Organisation in global health issues, President Xi Jinping told WHO director-general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun.
Xi was speaking on his first visit to the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday, the fifth day of his visit in Switzerland.
He and Chan, Hong Kong’s former director of health, agreed to step up health cooperation under China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
The belt and road initiative is aimed at linking economies into a China-centred trading network and involves more than 60 countries, including many WHO member states in which poor levels of public health have affected overall economic development.
“China welcomes the WHO’s active participation in the construction of the Belt and Road, and of a ‘healthy’ Silk Road,” Xi said, according to Xinhua news agency.
During Xi and Chan’s meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed covering areas of collaboration including refugee health and humanitarian health response, as well as the Syrian crisis, according to WHO website.
China has played an active role in addressing the global health crisis in recent years, including sending 1,200 medical workers to Ebola-stricken West Africa in 2014.
Beijing also promised to train Syrian medical workers in the Chinese capital, the Chinese defence ministry said in August.
It is also a major contributor to the WHO Emergency Medical Teams, a new system set up to ensure flexible, rapid response to national outbreaks and disasters.
Under the system, a Chinese team was deployed to Nepal to support local earthquake response in 2015.
In a special ceremony after Xi and Chan’s meeting, WHO and UNAIDS jointly presented an award to China’s first lady Peng Liyuan as goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/Aids.
Peng, who was appointed to the WHO role in 2011, has often spoken out against the stigma and discimination children affected by the diseases face.
In Lausanne later on Wednesday, Xi met International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
China would hold a clean and green Winter Olympics when it hosts the games in Beijing in 2022, Xi told Bach.
The games would be a “remarkable, extraordinary and excellent event”, Xinhua cited Xi as saying.
“The preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be a major task for China in the years to come. China will prepare and host the 2022 Games in a green, sharing, open and clean-fingered manner,” the report paraphrased Xi as saying.
“Hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics will also boost the economic growth of China and other countries along the Belt and Road routes, and enhance regional peace and stability,” Xi added.
The report made no direct mention of a possible lack of snow or Beijing’s terrible smog problem. Large parts of northern China have been swathed in noxious fumes this winter.
There have also been concerns about Internet restrictions, though the IOC said in October it was confident China would guarantee uncensored Internet when it hosts the Games.
Beijing and the nearby city of Zhangjiakou won the right to host the Games in 2015. The only other city bidding was Almaty in Kazakhstan, after other competitors dropped out, citing costs and other concerns.
Additional reporting from Reuters