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Vice Premier Wu Yi Meets WHO Director-General

On the afternoon of May 18, 2003, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi met with WHO (World Health Organization) Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland in Geneva.

Wu spoke highly of the beneficial work done by the WHO in promoting global health cooperation and fully introduced China's efforts to prevent and treat SARS. She emphasized that the Chinese leaders and government attach great importance to the health and safety of its people, place the fight against SARS on top of the agenda of governments at all levels in China, and resolutely and quickly took a series of measures. With more than two-month hard work, the SARS epidemic in China is under control to a certain extent. The number of new cases in China dropped to 28 as of May 18.She said that however, we cannot lower our guards as the epidemic might relapse with even minor oversight. We are further implementing all measures so as to claim full victory over SARS.

Wu thanked the WHO for sending experts to China. She said that despite difficulties, we have both the determination and confidence in victory over SARS, by relying on science, technology and the strength of the people, and with the support of the international community including the WHO. The Chinese side welcomes suggestions by the WHO on establishing a research fund on SARS, and is willing to be actively involved.

Wu also briefed Brundtland that the Chinese central government is concerned about the health and welfare of the people in Taiwan province and actively promotes cross-straits health exchanges and cooperation. She said that the Chinese people across the Taiwan straits are related by flesh and blood. Since the epidemic of SARS took place in Taiwan, the central government is greatly concerned. We have invited health workers and experts from Taiwan to visit the mainland for many times and provided them with the newly-developed reagent. In fact, Taiwan has access to all kinds of health information and cooperation across the Taiwan Straits is very close. While people across the straits are fighting SARS in the same boat, the Taiwan authorities try to make SARS a political issue and propose that Taiwan enter into the WHO where only sovereign states qualify in the capacity of "observer", "public health entity" or "public health authorities". Their attempt is to creat "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" internationally. Their act is to take advantage of the current epidemic, unacceptable both in terms of morality and reason and against the purposes and principles of the UN and WHO.

Brundtland said the WHO highly appraises the effective measures taken and the great efforts made by the Chinese government in the prevention and treatment of the SARS epidemic, and is satisfied with bilateral cooperation. She said that the spread of SARS reminds the international community of the importance of building public health system. She pointed out that the Taiwan issue has been resolved in the World Health Assembly over the past few years. She does not want this issue to disturb the WHO's focus on handling of the SARS epidemic and other major issues in the world health area.

Wu also met with Bangladeshi Health Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, who is to chair the current World Health Assembly, and Greek Health Minister Kostas Stefanis on separate occasions. Wu briefed them on the Chinese delegation's expectations of the assembly. She emphasized that currently, traditional and non-traditional security issues interwine. Outbreak of epidemics and other emergencies have brought about an unprecedented impact on countries. The current assembly should have in-depth discussions and find proper counter measures. She also talked about China's measures to effectively prevent and treat SARS and the latest developments, pointing out that the Chinese government has established an open and transparent reporting system on the epidemic, improved rapid reaction and social relife systems, increase financial investment by a large margin, and strengthen treatment and prevention work. She said that although the fight against SARS is a complicated and difficult process, we will claim final victory on the serious epidemic. Wu also reiterated the Chinese government's position on issues related to Taiwan.

Bangladeshi Health Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said that the threat of SARS took the world by surprise. He is full of admiration for the Chinese people's courage, wisdom, determination and confidence in their fight against SARS. China's efforts to prevent SARS and the experiences accumulated are contributions to the whole humankind.

Health Minister Kostas Stefanis of Greece, which holds the rotary presidency of the EU, spoke highly of China's efforts the fight against SARS and cooperation with the international community. He said that SARS is a common threat faced by the humankind. China's work is of uttermost importance in prevent the spreading of SARS. The EU would like to provide necessary assistance to China. He also said that the EU resolutely upholds the One China policy, and it is regrettable that Taiwan-related issues again come up in the current World Health Assembly.

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