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Friendship strengthens ties


China and Uruguay join hands to journey together in the post-pandemic era

The Lantern Festival, which fell on Feb 26 this year, symbolizes reunion for Chinese people. For Uruguay, a country in the Southern Hemisphere, the day was also significant.

Around 23:00 local time on Feb 25, Latam Airlines flight 9590 landed at Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo-the capital city farthest from Beijing-with the first batch of 192,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines.

These were the first COVID-19 vaccine doses received by Uruguay. On behalf of the Uruguayan government and people, President Luis Lacalle Pou expressed appreciation for the timely assistance from President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government, saying that the support and aid received from China was contributing a lot to his country's fight against the novel coronavirus.

All the countries in the world, including China, are struggling to roll out vaccines because of the limited production. But China sought to overcome all hurdles to provide vaccines when the number of infections began to surge in Uruguay. This was in keeping with President Xi's commitment to make China's vaccines available as a global public good for developing countries.

At the World Health Organization's request, China has committed to providing 10 million vaccine doses to the COVAX multilateral vaccine alliance to meet the urgent needs of developing countries. This is an important measure taken by China to promote the fair distribution of vaccines, promote international anti-pandemic cooperation, and practice the concept of building a global community of health for all.

China's timely aid has helped Uruguay build a public health defense for its people, setting a new milestone for bilateral cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.

High-level communication has deepened the mutual trust between the two countries. Since last September, President Xi and his Uruguayan counterpart have made phone calls and written letters to each other to reach consensus on strengthening vaccine cooperation.

Uruguay's Vice-President and Head of the Uruguayan Parliament Beatriz Argimon attended the National Day reception held by the Chinese embassy and later greeted the Chinese people on the occasion of Spring Festival via video link. Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo participated in the special videoconference of China and Latin American and Caribbean countries' foreign ministers on COVID-19.

The arrival of the first batch of Chinese vaccines is testament to the fruitful achievements of the "head-of-state diplomacy" and the development of the strategic partnership between China and Uruguay, in the spirit of a community with a shared future for humankind.

China and Uruguay have been demonstrating their solidarity in the fight against the virus. Uruguay was one of the first Latin American countries to express solidarity and provide assistance when China was waging a fierce battle against the virus.

In the face of the sudden outbreak, the Uruguayan government and people from all walks of life expressed their sympathy and solidarity to China and the Chinese people. They donated anti-pandemic materials through various channels, fully demonstrating the brotherhood of the two governments and peoples.

Chinese people, too, have shown their concern for their Uruguayan counterparts as they battle the virus. The Chinese government and people from all walks of life have provided anti-pandemic supplies to Uruguay and shared their prevention and control experiences.

China is the first country in the world to bring the novel coronavirus largely under control, steadily resuming production and registering a strong economic recovery, thus maintaining its status as Uruguay's largest trading partner, largest export market for beef, soybean, paper and wood, as well as its largest donor.

Economic and trade cooperation between the two countries is progressing. Uruguay's consumption and trading value per person with China is among the highest across Latin America.

China's consumer market will open up further and the Chinese people's demand for high-quality foods will grow rapidly.

China is now the world's top consumer goods market, which has great potential in purchasing Uruguay's agricultural and animal husbandry products.

The two countries' bilateral economic and trade cooperation has great potential and broad prospects in the new era.

The relationship between the two nations lies in the friendship between their peoples. While the pandemic has promoted new cooperation, the two countries have witnessed the growing people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Chinese TV series Family on the Go and documentary China's Battle Against COVID-19 have proved popular in Uruguay.

Cloud diplomacy, which involves attending or chairing virtual meetings and having phone calls with foreign leaders and heads of international organizations, has produced new linkages while cooperation at the local level between the two countries is on the rise. Nanning in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and Sichuan and Henan provinces have established friendships with Uruguay's Paysandu, Lavalleja and Montevideo provinces, respectively.

The cooperation between China and Uruguay during the pandemic has been the touchstone of the bilateral friendship. Under President Lacalle Pou's strong leadership, the Uruguayan people will soon overcome the pandemic. Thanks to their strategic partnership, the two sides will break the waves and sail a long distance in the new era.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Uruguay. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.