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China dealt with Covid-19 in open and transparent manner, says Xi

SHANGHAI/BEIJING : Defying charges from the US that early failures enabled the pandemic to spread more quickly, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China acted in an open and transparent manner throughout and took decisive actions that saved lives.

"China has helped save the lives of tens of millions of people around the world with its practical actions, showing China's sincere desire to build a common future and community for humanity," Mr Xi said at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The ceremony yesterday was to honour heroes of China's "people's war" against Covid-19.

Mr Xi lauded the country's resilience as well as the decisive role played in containment efforts by the ruling Communist Party.

He said China is the first major economy to return to growth during the pandemic - a fact he said demonstrates the country's resilience and vitality.

AWARD

Mr Xi awarded Dr Zhong Nanshan, the senior medical adviser and coronavirus expert who helped shape China's Covid-19 response, with a Medal of the Republic, the country's highest honour.

Beijing faced criticism at home and overseas in the early days of the outbreak.

Local authorities in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first identified, were accused of a cover-up that delayed the country's emergency response by at least two weeks.

But as infections spread throughout the world while slowing domestically, Beijing grew more assertive, resisting global investigations into the origins of the outbreak and saying its swift actions helped buy time for other countries to prepare.

State media has stressed Mr Xi's role in China's containment of the virus.

The official Xinhua news agency said in a long special report yesterday that Mr Xi has worked tirelessly since January and even suffered sleepless nights as he "shouldered the extremely difficult mission of fighting the epidemic". - REUTERS

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