By Zhiqiang Zou
As the novel coronavirus pandemic has run rampant globally, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have exceeded 2 million worldwide, with the death toll reaching nearly 166,000. Since the first case was reported in Turkey on March 11, the number of confirmed cases has grown rapidly. As of April 16, 74,193 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Turkey, and more than 1,600 people have died of the disease. Turkey has become one of the countries most affected by the epidemic in the world.
As we all know, China was the first country to suffer the shock of COVID-19. Chinese people tried their best to control the epidemic, making enormous sacrifices, surviving a very difficult period over the past 3 months. Thus, the Chinese people are very concerned about the epidemic situation in Turkey and give their sympathy to the Turkish people.
After the outbreak began three months ago at the most difficult moment for Chinese people, China received assistance and help from members of the international community, and the Turkish government and people gave assistance to China. Turkey was one of the friendly countries to provide medical and health supplies to China through official and private channels. The military aircraft that Turkey sent to Wuhan city to pick up Turkish citizens loaded some urgent medical supplies to Hubei Province of China. China was grateful to Turkey for its great help and support, and also firmly supports Turkish government and people in fighting against the COVID-19 and is willing to provide necessary assistance.
Under the appeal of the Chinese Embassy in Turkey, the Chamber of Commerce of China in Turkey organized more than 80 Chinese enterprises and individuals to donate medical supplies. On March 25, the first round of 19 Chinese enterprises (or individuals) donated 65,200 surgical masks, 5,000 protective suits, and 10,000 surgical head covers to Turkey. On March 27, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Turkey) Co., Ltd. announced that it will donate a total of US $100,000 to support Turkey ’s fight against the COVID-19 and provide relative financial services.
Health officials and experts of China and Turkey keep communication open and continue cooperation in the fight against the epidemic. On March 26, members of the Scientific Committee of the Turkish Ministry of Health participated in an online meeting with Chinese officials and experts. At the meeting, Chinese experts shared the diagnosis and treatment experience and answered questions from their Turkish counterparts. On April 10, the Chinese Embassy in Turkey organized another online meeting where experts from China and Turkey exchanged experience on the prevention and treatment of the COVID-19.
On April 8, President Xi Jinping held phone conversations with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where Xi conveyed his sympathy to Turkey over the outbreak and expressed firm support for Turkey’s efforts in fighting COVID-19, expressing readiness to provide further assistance to Turkey in line with its needs. China also offered to facilitate its purchase of medical supplies. Xi also called for close cooperation between China and Turkey on epidemic control.
Turkish newspapers such as the Daily Sabah and Milliyet published articles introducing China’s situation and experience in fighting against the novel coronavirus, hoping to help Turkey as it continues to be ravaged by the epidemic. In an interview with Chinese media, Mr. Abdulkadir Emin Önen, the Turkish Ambassador to China, stated that Turkey supports and values the efforts taken by Chinese government in curbing the epidemic. It is clear that Turkey is currently severely challenged by the epidemic. Increasing numbers of voices among the Chinese media and people are paying close attention to the epidemic situation in Turkey, doing their best to provide assistance within their ability.
The virus respects no borders: it is a common threat facing all countries in the world. China and Turkey share the same goals on the issue. We need to join hands and work together to overcome the global public health crisis and improve bilateral cooperation by fighting the epidemic. China and Turkey need to keep high-level communication between leaders and officials, and experts from both sides need to continue to hold online exchanges. If we do so, we will witness more and more Chinese companies and individuals willing to provide assistance to Turkey.
I believe that Turkish people could win the final victory against the epidemic in the near future. I look forward to visiting beautiful Turkey again, and hope cooperation between China and Turkey will improve dramatically as a result.
Zhiqiang Zou – Associate Professor of the Middle East Studies Institute at Shanghai International Studies University