Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to Germany for a key security forum this week, the first overseas trip by a senior Chinese official since the outbreak of the new coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands and locked down millions across the country. Wang is slated to deliver the keynote address at the annual Munich Security Conference from Thursday to Saturday. He is expected to speak about Beijing’s efforts to combat the virus, which causes the disease now officially known as Covid-19, and international cooperation on the issue. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters through social media app WeChat – a special briefing arrangement as part of measures to curb contagion by avoiding group gatherings – that Wang’s speech would allow China to “get deeper understanding and broader support from the international community”. World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who will also attend the forum, called on countries to take stronger measures on Tuesday to contain the pneumonia-like illness, which he termed “public enemy number one”. The outbreak that started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December has so far killed more than 1,100 people and infected over 44,000 in mainland China, and has spread to two dozen other countries. Wang’s diplomatic trip comes at a difficult time for China, as Beijing struggles to contain the outbreak with unprecedented travel restrictions and hospitals reporting shortages of medical staff and resources. Analysts have said the public health crisis presents a significant political challenge for President Xi Jinping, who said earlier in the week that the “grim” fight against the virus had revealed shortcomings in the country’s system, with likely implications for China’s economic growth and diplomatic work. Upcoming high-level talks between China and other nations, including European Union members and Japan, could also be affected. Arrangements for a trip by Politburo member Yang Jiechi to Japan to make preparations for Xi’s state visit in April were not progressing, according to Kyodo. China is scheduled to hold summits with European leaders this month and next, but those gatherings are also facing uncertainty because of the outbreak . Its commitment to implementing the phase one trade deal may also be affected, with White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien suggesting on Tuesday that the outbreak could reduce Chinese purchases of American agricultural products this year . Other high-level world leaders at this year’s Munich conference – which will focus on issues such as security challenges from the declining influence of the West – include French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Wang is also scheduled to co-chair a strategic dialogue with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Berlin to discuss bilateral relations, China’s ties with the European Union, and issues such as free trade and the virus outbreak. “Under the current circumstances, China’s epidemic prevention and control measures will be an important topic in their talks,” Geng said. “Both sides will have discussions on the latest situation and cooperation in epidemic control and public health, which will help China get more international support in this area.” Wang did not attend the Munich Security Conference last year, with the Chinese side represented instead by Yang. Ahead of the conference, organisers published a security report highlighting how China had invested in institutions that “partly challenge institutions traditionally dominated by the West”, and that Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the world had raised concerns about an international order dominated by China. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.