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Xi urges solid, meticulous epidemic prevention, control

24th February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivers an important speech at a meeting to advance the work on coordinating the prevention and control of the COVID-19 and economic and social development, in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

BEIJING, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping Sunday called for firm, solid and meticulous efforts in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, urged Party committees and governments at all levels to remain vigilant and make unremitting efforts in the epidemic prevention and control work.

No victory should be lightly announced until there is a complete win, Xi said at a meeting in Beijing on coordinating the prevention and control of the COVID-19 and economic and social development, making the following demands:

— Hubei Province, as well as its capital city Wuhan, should be safeguarded with resolute efforts, with focal attention paid to containing the spread at communities and treating the patients;

— The epidemic prevention and control work in Beijing should be carried out with all-out efforts. Both imported cases and spread within the city should be prevented;

— Medical resources and key supplies should be allocated in a scientific manner, providing more protection for the medical workers;

— Scientific research should be accelerated in terms of drug and vaccine development. Effective diagnosis and treatment plans should be summarized and promoted in time;

— International and regional cooperation should be expanded. Good communication with the World Health Organization and experience sharing with relevant countries should be continued;

— Public communication through news media should be more effective. Release of epidemic information should be improved;

— Social stability should be well safeguarded. Illegal activities disturbing medical treatment, epidemic prevention, and market and social order should be severely punished.

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Chinese Army to procure 1.4 million body armor units in 2 years

24th February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

In preparation for the parade on October 1 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese peacekeeping force conducts training at the parade training center in Changping district, Beijing, on September 17, 2019. Photo: Li Hao/GT

As the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is striving to enhance its combat readiness and preparing for military conflicts, potentially against Taiwan secessionists and US provocations, the PLA Army announced its plan to procure a whopping 1.4 million units of high-quality body armor with plates for a top limit price of about 13 billion yuan ($1.85 billion) in the coming two years, which is expected to keep PLA casualty numbers as low as possible.

According to the 2019 edition of China's defense white paper, the PLA has about two million personnel, and the PLA Army is only a part of it, meaning every frontline army soldier could get one of these armor suits, with extra in reserve, analysts said.

The PLA Army is holding open tenders to procure 930,000 units of plates for universal bulletproof vests and 467,000 units of plates for enhanced bulletproof vests, according to two statements released on weain.mil.cn, the Chinese military's weapon and equipment procurement website, on Friday.

A regular plate unit should cost under 7,950 yuan, or 7.4 billion yuan in total, and an enhanced unit less than 12,900 yuan, or 6 billion yuan in total.

Each plate unit consists of two bulletproof plates, and the plate manufacturer will assemble the plates into the vests, which are not included in these procurements, before delivery.

The products will be delivered in batches in the 24 months after contracts are signed. Both open tenders will end on March 6, according to the statements.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that the procurement had the lives of Chinese soldiers in mind, as the armor can keep casualties to a minimum.

The PLA is conducting more and more real-combat oriented training and drills, and the soldiers should always wear body armor as if they were in a real war to make the exercises more real, Song said.

Chinese body armor is of high quality and relatively low cost, Song said, noting that about 70 percent of the international body armor market is made up of Chinese products.

Some mainland military enthusiasts on the internet speculated that the procurement might aim at threat from Taiwan secessionists and their US supporters. They said armor plates' effectiveness expires in several years, so buying so many in such a short time period could mean preparations for potential military conflicts against Taiwan secessionist forces and other imminent threats in coming years.

The statements did not mention the purpose of the procurements.

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Blood donations continue amid outbreak

24th February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

Over 350 police officers of the Xinjiang Division of the Chinese People's Armed Police voluntarily donate blood in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Feb 22, 2020. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Over 350 police officers of the Xinjiang Division of the Chinese People's Armed Police voluntarily donated blood on Saturday as supplies fell in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The coronavirus outbreak that keeps many people from going outside has strained local supplies in Urumqi, according to the regional Blood Center.

“The number of donors has decreased. Before the government activated first-level emergency response, we had about 800 liters of stored blood. Now we have 350 liters left,” said Zhang Hongbin, director of the center.

In response, the Xinjiang Division took the lead and organized donations. After undergoing medical checkups, over 350 police officers in good health donated more than 70 liters of blood.

“Although I did not go to the front line of the fight against the virus, I hope my blood donation will provide some help to society, and we are here to set an example for everyone,” said Mardan Ainywar, a 26-year-old police officer.

Over 350 police officers of the Xinjiang Division of the Chinese People's Armed Police voluntarily donate blood in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Feb 22, 2020. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]、

Meanwhile, the center has rolled out services allowing people to make appointments for donations.

“Citizens can call for appointments and we will send cars to pick them and bring them to our center for donations, which allows them to avoid crowds and reduce possible cross-infection,” said Zhang.

In a circular issued on Feb 5, the National Health Commission and the military health department urged local authorities to make emergency plans in case of blood shortages and to step up inter-provincial allocations of blood.

In cases of emergency, local authorities should first attempt to allocate blood within the province before seeking outside help, the circular said, adding that blood collectors should use more precautions against infection.

Over 350 police officers of the Xinjiang Division of the Chinese People's Armed Police voluntarily donate blood in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Feb 22, 2020. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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Military hospital gives remote technical support to battlefront medics

23rd February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) — Medical professionals from a Beijing-based military hospital have used the 5G technology to provide technical support to their counterparts attending to COVID-19 patients in Wuhan.

Nursing experts from the Chinese People's Liberation Army General Hospital demonstrated how to perform chest physical therapy for patients in critical conditions to medical workers thousands of miles away in Wuhan, the hospital said on Saturday.

“We hope the therapy will help patients recover and lower the risks of infection among medics attending to those patients,” said Pi Hongying, a nursing expert from the Beijing-based military hospital.

Viewing the demonstration via the 5G-powered telemedicine platform in Wuhan included military medics tasked with treating patients in Huoshenshan Hospital, Taikang Tongji Hospital and a branch of Hubei's Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital in Wuhan.

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China’s virus containment wins praise

22nd February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

Medical workers in Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan,central China's hubei Province on January 24, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

US health experts laud the country for limiting the worldwide spread of COVID-19

Confronted with an “unprecedented” outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has done a “remarkable” job in limiting the spread of the disease, said leading experts in the US.

“China has done extraordinary things to mostly contain the virus within Hubei and central China,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, to China Daily. “They recognize their responsibility to the world as well as to the people of China and have worked hard to contain this virus.”

Hotez said that it's “almost impossible” to contain a highly contagious virus, like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), without a vaccine, but China has made progress.

China has reported a steady decline in the growth rates of confirmed infections, suspected cases and patients under medical observation, except for Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic.

“It's pretty much unprecedented. No one has attempted something like this in history to my knowledge,” said Arthur Reingold, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, referring to the China's quarantine measures. “In many countries it would be impossible to even try.”

“It's very difficult to sit somewhere else and say somebody would have done a better job. We just don't have enough information to say that things might have gone faster. I'm not convinced to that,” Reingold told China Daily. “The willingness to use police and military and impose controls is perhaps stronger than in many countries, so I think what they are doing is remarkable.”

Reingold's remarks were echoed by William Schaffner, medical director of the Washington-based National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor at Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

He said China's response to the COVID-19 epidemic has been “remarkable” in several respects. “The first, of course, was the response of the scientists, the molecular biologists who very quickly made the diagnosis of a novel coronavirus,” said Schaffner in a phone interview. “And then they sequenced the genome so very rapidly and precisely — and then shared that information with the world. That was just wonderful.”

“The Chinese government and the Ministry of Health then did something that has stunned the world,” he said. “I remain amazed at the very large quarantine that has been put in place in Wuhan and Hubei province. The goal of that was to reduce the spread of the virus.”

“No similar activity, no similar controlled measure of this size has ever been done in the history of the world,” said Schaffner. “So this is just an extraordinary attempt to limit the spread within China and to the rest of the world.”

He also stressed the importance of communication and international cooperation in tackling global health emergencies.

By working internationally with experts, any country can do a better job and learn about new infectious disease threats, said Schaffner, adding that scientists are still having a difficult time determining how effective the quarantine has been so far.

Recognizing the enormous pressure on the local healthcare system, Hotez said he feels very sad for the people of Wuhan and its surrounding area, which have suffered a lot because of the virus.

Experts: Disease measures praised ”

As a physician-scientist, I'm inspired by the heroism of so many Chinese physicians, nurses and healthcare workers who have risked their lives in Wuhan and nearby cities. This is an inspiration for all us all,” said Hotez.

“In the memory of the Chinese doctors and healthcare workers who gave their lives to help others in this epidemic, we are dedicating our vaccine institute (Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine) to developing coronavirus vaccines,” he said.

The institute is currently developing a second generation COVID-19 vaccine. It has manufactured a vaccine that was developed to combat SARS but an partially protect healthcare workers from COVID-19, according to Hotez.

“We could begin clinical testing in China if there's interest,” he said.

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“I love China”: Afghan military doctor sends anti-epidemic materials to China

21st February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

By Zuo Shengnan, Gao Jun and Cai Tong

A special parcel was sent to the Army Medical University of the PLA from overseas on February 16, 2020. Inside the bundled-up package, there are 750 neatly packed face masks and a national flag of Afghanistan.

Who went through all the trouble to send the scarce supplies from distant Afghanistan during the critical anti-epidemic period?

It was later confirmed that this special gift came from Mohammed, a current foreign military medical student studying at the Chinese PLA Army Medical University, who is now far away in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. “I definitely want to lend a hand when I see that China needs help, although I am a foreigner,” he said.

Mohammed has to postpone the date of returning to school in China due to the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19)outbreak, but the distance cannot stop him from being concerned with the epidemic in China.

“I know that the Chinese PLA Army Medical University has sent many medical personnel to Wuhan, including the teachers we often see in class and hospitals. They are heroes! Learning that they were in urgent need of medical masks, I immediately contacted my friends to buy as many as I could.

Mohammed managed to get 750 masks. “It was not easy. There are also purchasing limitations for masks in Afghanistan, and demand exceeds supply.”

Then it was even more difficult to send out international parcels to China in special times. Mohammed looked for accessible logistics on the Internet, used his unskilled Chinese to communicate with the courier many times and completed the delivery procedures finally.

Mohammed found that the WeChat group of international cadets from the Chinese PLA Army Medical University has been very lively recently, as the members discuss the epidemic situation, share the news, and pray for China … Everyone hopes to contribute their own efforts.

According to Mohammed, he and his friends bought additional 20,000 masks in four days after sending the first batch. They sent the masks to the Chinese embassy in Kabul and asked the staff there to transfer those masks to Wuhan.

Mohammed said: “I just did what I wanted to do because I am also a military doctor and I love China!”

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Intensive missions signal Chinese Air Force’s transformation into strategic force

21st February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

China's J-20 stealth fighter jet displays its new coating of stealth material and flies over the exhibition hall at Airshow China 2018. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The Chinese Air Force conducted three major missions in February, namely combat readiness patrols around Taiwan, large-scale medical deliveries to Wuhan and flight performances in Singapore, which is an initial indication that the service is on track to become a strategic force this year.

Running three distinctively different missions in different directions at the same time demonstrated the Chinese Air Force's capabilities, an expert said on Thursday.

In a move that experts said sends a warning to Taiwan secessionists, Air Force units with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command conducted combat readiness patrols and joint drills featuring J-11 fighter jets, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6K bombers near the island of Taiwan on February 9 and 10.

To help control the coronavirus outbreak, the PLA Air Force dispatched three Il-76 large transport planes to Wuhan on January 24, eight Il-76s on February 2, 11 transport aircraft consisting of Y-20s, Il-76s and Y-9s on February 13 and eight more on Monday, which sent thousands of military medical personnel and hundreds of tons of medical supplies to the outbreak epicenter.

The August 1st Air Demonstration Team of the PLA Air Force returned to China on Wednesday after leaving for Singapore on February 5, completing five flight performances at the 2020 Singapore Airshow for the first time, and served as an envoy of peace, culture and friendship, the PLA Daily reported on Thursday.

The intensive month for the Chinese Air Force showed its capability to conduct multiple major missions on multiple fronts at the same time thanks to its strong organizing and mobilizing capability as well as the professional personnel and advanced equipment at its disposal, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Thursday.

Reports show that other Air Force troops that were not involved in the three missions were conducting normal training and exercises, which means the Air Force still had a lot of power to spare, the expert said.

According to a roadmap the Chinese Air Force announced in November 2018, the Air Force will become a strategic force this year. It will become modern in 2035 and become world-class by the mid-21st century, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

February gave people a glimpse of what the Air Force has developed into over recent years, the expert said, noting that more advanced aircraft like the J-20 will likely enter service in the rest of 2020.

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ASEAN defense ministers speak highly of China’s efforts against COVID-19 outbreak

20th February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

By Huang Shuo and Wang Di

HANOI, Feb. 20 –The ASEAN defense ministers' informal meeting was held in Hanoi on February 19,2020. The defense ministers of the participating countries issued a joint statement, which spoke highly of China's efforts to combat the novel coronavirus(COVID-19) epidemic, and emphasized the need for ASEAN countries to strengthen cooperation in response to the epidemic.

The joint statement expressed serious concerns over the COVID-19 outbreaks, spoke highly of China's efforts to combat the epidemic, and expressed condolences to the affected countries, regions and people.

The statement said that ASEAN countries should work together to actively respond to the outbreaks and promised to strengthen defense cooperation in areas including military medicine and information sharing.

Vietnamese Minister of National Defence General Ngô Xuân Lịch addressed at the meeting that the meeting laid the foundation for ASEAN countries to conduct practical cooperation in military medicine, humanitarian assistance and other fields. Vietnam has called on all parties to strengthen cooperation in order to enhance ASEAN countries' capability to respond in military medicine and other areas.

ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi attended the meeting on that day.

A special meeting on the COVID-19 between China and ASEAN foreign ministers will be held in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos on February 20.

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France to deploy additional forces in Sahel, reflecting grim anti-terror situation in Africa

20th February 2020 伊桑·湖北武汉 0

By Kong Gang

Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces, announced recently that France will deploy 600 additional soldiers to the Africa’s Sahel region to combat extremists. Most of the reinforcements will be deployed in Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area, while another part will be directly committed to the G5 Sahel Joint Force to accompany them in operations. The additional forces sent by Paris come just in time and are vital for fighting extremist forces, but the move also reflects the grim anti-terror situation in Africa at the moment.

Located between the Sahara and the central Sudanian Savanna, the Sahel region that consists of countries like Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso is ravaged by poverty, armed conflicts and natural disasters, as well as the most rampant terrorist activities in Africa. Burkina Faso has seen frequent attacks in recent years. In December 2019, a group of armed terrorists attacked a church on its border and killed 14 civilians in cold blood, and many French soldiers were injured or died during follow-up counter-threat operations.

France has a long-standing feud with international terrorist forces. Due to historical connections and other factors, a large group of Africans have come to France and now accounts for a large percentage of the country’s total population. In the meantime, the cultural diversity policy implemented by the French government hasn’t provedeffective yet. Lots of African French, especially young people, having failed to merge into the French society and thus become marginalized, which has caused tension between ethnic groups. In recent years, there have been constant atrocities in cities like Leon where Africans live in high concentration, posing a serious threat to social security in the country.

What’s worse, the ethnic and social conflicts in France have taken on a terrorist touch in recent years owing to the rampant spread of terrorist ideas. Not only is there a growing number of French people joining the IS, but there is also a large number of people living in the country that hasconnections with Africa-based terrorist organizations. The advanced network has contributed to terrorist threats against France too, whose domestic security is more closely connected with the anti-terror efforts in Africa.

Dating back to early 2013, France had launched Operation Serval to directly fight the extremists in Mali. Since then it has expanded the scope of its anti-terror combats in Africa and invested more and more troops there. Meanwhile, Paris has taken an active part in organizing local forces to put up a united and coordinated anti-terror front, and the G5 Sahel Joint Force was formed under its support to join the combat against terrorists. The French military and its African allies also launched Operation Barkhane and some other major operations in the wake of Operation Serval. The new deployment will increase the number of French troops in Africa to more than 5,000, turning the continent into the “primary battlefield” of Paris’ anti-terror efforts.

However, the anti-terror situation facing France remains stern. On the one hand, the military forces of Sahel countries are generally combat-weak as allies, so France cannot entrust them with main combat missions, but taking on all the missions on its own shoulder would be too costly, especially as France and Europe are looking at multi-faceted security challenges in recent years. At this moment, Paris has to carefully and rationally plan and allocate its limited security and defense resources in order to sustain the long-term counter-terrorist combats in Africa.

On the other hand, France’s western allies have their own considerations too. Paris and London had close military cooperation when Sarkozy was in office, including joint defense operations in Africa, but after London got down the road of Brexit in 2016, such cooperation quickly chilled. Even though French President Macron recently re-expressed the wish to maintain the defense cooperation with the UK, whether they can resume the past affinity remains uncertain. Germany, however, isn’t nearly as concerned about Africa’s security situation as France due to historical and geographical differences.

Therefore, even if France has the understanding and compassion of Italy and Spain, it’s not easy for it to divert more of EU’s resources to Africa to serve its own purposes. Obviously, its top ally outside Europe on the anti-terror front is the US. But with its own strategic priority, US isn’t someone that Paris can count on completely even though counter terrorism is in their interests.

(The author is from China’s PLA National University of Defense Technology.)