(TMU) — China is shipping one million surgical masks and gloves to France to help it fight the coronavirus, the French foreign minister confirmed on Wednesday.
France, which has suffered shortages of masks and gloves, had provided China with roughly 17 tons of equipment after the novel virus broke out in Wuhan last December.
The shipment also comes after French President Emmanuel Macron declared that his country is “at war” against CoViD-19, echoing a general sentiment across Europe which has become the new flashpoint of a global pandemic that has seen thousands killed, borders slammed shut, and citizens forced to stay at home across the world.
On Wednesday, French health authorities reported 89 new deaths from the virus, which represents a massive spike by nearly 51 percent, taking the total number of deaths to 264. The number of confirmed cases has risen to 9,134, up from 7,730 on Tuesday, health agency director Jerome Salomon told reporters.
China has also shipped nine of its medical staff and planeloads of medical supplies totaling 30 tons to Italy, Europe’s hardest-hit nation, which saw deaths rise by 475 on Wednesday to nearly 3,000, marking the biggest single increase in mortality since the outbreak began.
Financial Times reports that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen thanked China on Wednesday for its offer to provide over 2 million medical masks and 50,000 coronavirus testing kits. Von der Leyen told reporters that she had spoken to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the two agreed that China and the EU must “support each other in times of need.”
In spite of Beijing’s efforts to aid other countries slammed hard by the outbreak, China has still received negative press in the West, while the Trump administration has referred to CoViD-19 variously as the “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” or even “Kung Flu.”
Beijing’s eagerness to assist countries stricken by the disease strikingly contrasts with the seeming disinterest Washington has displayed during the crisis toward its traditional western allies, one critic observed.
In an article for China Daily, Fraser Cameron, director of the Brussels-based EU-Asia Centre think-tank, wrote:
“The pandemic is thus having a major impact on EU-US-China relations. It has disrupted trade and travel, and sparked a national rather than an international response. In an ideal world, there would be no talk of a ‘foreign virus’; instead, there would be acknowledgement that a pathogen knows no borders and has no political loyalties.
The pandemic is a common threat that requires a coordinated global response. But that is not the way the US administration thinks and thus the US’ relations with both the EU and China may continue to suffer.”
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