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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Chinese and Russian aid to Italy

by New Worker correspondent

CHINESE and Russian medical teams are stepping in to help Italy in the battle to stave off the coronavirus plague that has brought the country in the heart of Europe to a virtual standstill.

Italy has been struggling to stop the spread of COVID-19 for weeks now. Some 70,000 Italians have been infected and nearly 7,000 have died from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many Italian politicians believed that the European Union would step in to help them in their hour of need. They were sadly disappointed. The Eurocrats who had preached about the virtues of the EU and pan-European solidarity stood aside and did nothing. But others were ready to lend a helping hand.

The first team from China landed in Rome on 12th March with 31 tons of essential supplies and equipment, including respirators, protective suits, masks and medications. The supplies were donated both by the Chinese government and private donors. Last week another Chinese team flew directly to Milan, and Russian military doctors and specialists in infectious diseases are being deployed to the most effected regions in the north to boost the Italian effort.

emergency aid

Fifteen Russian cargo planes have already delivered emergency aid, vital medical equipment and supplies, and packed with vital supplies and mobile units with equipment for disinfection and COVID-19 diagnostics to join the campaign to curb the outbreak that is centred in the wealthy Italian north that is the manufacturing and financial base of the country. Eight Russian medical teams and over 100 military virologists and epidemiologists are now working in Bergamo in the northern province of Lombardy, Italy’s worst-affected region.

Chinese doctors are already there, working with their Italian colleagues in the campaign to save lives. Italian Red Cross spokesman, Marcello de Angelis, said the Chinese experts have “gained a great deal of experience that Italy urgently needs”.

“China has had considerable success in fighting the epidemic and we want to work with Chinese experts on an international level,” said de Angelis, adding that the Italian and Chinese Red Cross organisations have a long history of co-operation. And former Italian premier Romano Prodi said China’s donations sent a signal of solidarity and friendship to Italy, which the country will never forget.

People’s China is sending two million protective face masks to the EU following talks between EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Chinese medical aid has also been sent to other parts of Europe, including badly-hit Spain and France. But Chinese support goes beyond the confines of the EU. Last week Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dismissed European solidarity as a “myth” and thanked China for sending five million much-needed face masks to Serbia, which it could not get from the EU bloc.

on paper

The crisis has proven that European solidarity only exists “on paper”, Vucic said, citing the ban on the export of medical equipment and supplies imposed by EU members to non-EU countries such as Serbia in response to the outbreak.

The first Chinese medical team arrived in Belgrade last weekend. President Vucic greeted the Chinese medics at the airport and kissed the Chinese national flag in a show of gratitude for China’s timely support against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vucic said: “Though China hasn’t finished the fight against the coronavirus yet, they say they will help Serbia, like iron brothers. Serbian people will never forget this kindness.”

China is providing medical supplies to 82 countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the African Union. Many countries have recently received anti-epidemic supplies from China, including close neighbours such as Japan, south Korea and the Philippines, as well as countries in distant continents such as Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Peru.