|Seeds of friendship bloom - by Ambassador SUN Lijie|
The world is facing the severe test of the COVID-19 pandemic. China has waged an arduous and painstaking struggle against the pandemic and achieved important results in the initial stage. At the same time, China is committed to promoting its vision of a community with a shared future for humanity and shouldering its responsibilities as a major country, and has contributed its experience, technical support and material support to the international fight against the pandemic.
China and Slovakia have been working closely to help each other in the fight against the pandemic, and many touching stories have emerged. This once again demonstrates the beautiful friendship between the two peoples who have stood together through hard times, and provides strong support for the future development of China-Slovakia relations.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Slovakia, bilateral relations have been moving steadily forward and their friendly cooperation has deepened. In 1956, the government of Czechoslovakia donated a batch of agricultural machinery to the city of Cangzhou, Hebei province, free of charge to equip modern farms and sent experts to teach technology, making important contributions to the agricultural development and people's living standards. In order to commemorate this friendship, then premier Zhou Enlai personally named the farm "Friendship Farm".
In February this year, the city of Cangzhou was in a difficult time as masks and other medical supplies were in urgent need. Friendship Farm partner, Eduard Šebo, and other friendly people, actively assisted the farm in securing epidemic prevention supplies for Cangzhou, making a lot of effort to support the city's fight against the novel coronavirus. Various departments of the Slovak government provided assistance for China's charter flights to transfer goods. Then state secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport Ol' ga Nachtmannová attended the shipment ceremony on behalf of the government, demonstrating Slovakia's support for China.
In early March, after Slovakia reported its first confirmed novel coronavirus infection the number of cases rose rapidly. The Slovak government sent a request for medical aid to China. The Cangzhou government and Friendship Farm immediately decided to extend a helping hand to return the favor, raising more than 100,000 pieces of aid in a short time. On April 7, six tons of medical supplies from Cangzhou arrived in Slovakia. The head of the Office of the Slovak government, the secretary-general of the foreign ministry, representatives of entrepreneurs and friends went to the airport to receive the supplies. They expressed their sincere thanks to the Cangzhou government and people for their timely assistance and praised the farm as an envoy of China-Slovakia friendship and for the contribution it was making for the inheritance and development of bilateral friendship.
In 2003, Shanghai and Bratislava Region, where the capital of Slovakia is located, became sister cities. In 2018, Chen Qun, vice-mayor of Shanghai, led a delegation to Slovakia to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the sistership. After the spread of the pandemic in Slovakia, the Bratislava Regional government turned to Shanghai, its sister city thousands of miles away, for help and experience and received an immediate and detailed reply. The local government of Bratislava Region, drawing on the successful experience of Shanghai, became one of the first government departments to publicly encourage people to wear masks and shut down schools, winning recognition and praise from the local people.
The Shanghai municipal government has donated 3,000 medical masks and 18,000 civilian masks to Bratislava. In particular, President of Bratislava Region Juraj Droba said he wanted to express his sincere thanks to the Shanghai government "in person" by video link. In addition, Jing'an district of Shanghai and Tongzhou district of Beijing donated medical supplies such as masks, protective clothing and thermometers to their Slovak partners, providing valuable help and support to the Slovak people in their fight against the pandemic.
On March 13, experts from China and Central and Eastern European countries held a videoconference to introduce China's latest medical treatment for COVID-19 and effective prevention and control experience for airports, airlines and communities. The Slovak representative Pavol Jar uška, chief expert for infectology of the Ministry of Health, attended the meeting and discussed with the Chinese experts the gene sequence of the novel coronavirus and the characteristics of the virus and the traditional Chinese medicine treatments used by China. Jar uška thanked China for sharing its experience in fighting the pandemic without reservation and believes that China's detailed data and useful experience will play a positive role in Slovakia's fight against the pandemic.
Chinese enterprises and universities have also provided support to Slovak partners through various channels. China National Petroleum Corporation donated 20,000 face masks to its Slovak partners. Ningbo University of Finance& Economics donated 10,000 masks to the School of Economics and Management in Public Administration in Bratislava. Overseas Chinese in Slovakia have given back to the local society by donating 400,000 masks. With the assistance of China, Slovakia has carried back more than 100 tons of pandemic prevention materials in total from China seven times. Then prime minister Peter Pellegrini personally greeted the goods at the airport and expressed his deep appreciation. He said that the flags of the two countries on the packing boxes are a vivid interpretation of Slovakia's friendship with China.
The spring of 2020 is special because of the pandemic. It is also full of vitality because of the warm stories of the people of all countries helping each other under the pandemic. I believe that in this spring, the seeds of China-Slovakia friendship will grow into flowers and blossom everywhere.
The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Slovakia. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.