Op-ed in Ming Pao by U.S. Consul General Hanscom Smith
May 18, 2020
(The Chinese version of this article was published by Ming Pao on May 18, 2020, and this article is not for commercial use.)
The COVID-19 battle has revealed the character of nations, and of individuals around the world. It has also showcased, once again, the vast generosity of the United States and the American people.
As we have during past health crises, the U.S. government is leading the world’s humanitarian and health response to the COVID-19 pandemic even while we battle the virus at home. Since the initial outbreak in Wuhan, the U.S. Government alone has committed roughly $900 million in emergency health, humanitarian, and economic assistance to help more than 120 countries, with more soon to come.
That’s on top of the funding we already provide to multilateral and non-governmental organizations, and through corporate, charitable and individual donations, in an “All of America” effort. Together, Americans have provided nearly $6.5 billion in government and non-government assistance and donations to the global COVID-19 response, accounting for nearly 60% of the total global effort.
Internationally, our country is the world’s largest health and humanitarian donor. The U.S. government, through the generosity of the American taxpayer, contributed more than $140 billion in global health assistance in the 21st century alone. These resources have saved lives, strengthened health institutions, and promoted the stability of communities. We welcome continued no-strings-attached contributions from other donors to bolster the global response efforts now underway.
Our added value in the global fight against COVID-19 is more than just the money and supplies. The U.S. government worked with publishers and major technology companies to release, free of charge, the world’s largest collection of scientific articles on coronavirus. Experts have downloaded the dataset more than 54,000 times and have access to more than 1,000 AI tools made available by U.S. researchers to accelerate research into vaccines, therapeutics, and other critical scientific questions.
Our leadership isn’t by chance, it’s by choice. Free nations produce prosperity, unmatched generosity, and aid that truly helps people survive and thrive.
The United States was one of the first countries to rush to China’s aid as soon as reports emerged about the initial outbreak in Wuhan. In early January, the U.S. Government offered technical assistance to the Chinese Centers for Disease Control. In the first week of February, Samaritan’s Purse, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and others provided nearly 18 tons of medical supplies to Wuhan. We continue to stand ready to help the Chinese people.
The United States welcomes international cooperation in the fight against this pandemic, including the strong collaborative relationship we enjoy with Hong Kong. We appreciate Hong Kong’s top-quality research laboratories that have long been partners of the United States. Crucially, Hong Kong provided a sample of the virus to our National Institutes of Health, which has helped research better detection, treatment, and prevention options.
We also appreciate the close ties of friendship between our two peoples. Many Hongkongers and Americans are shipping masks and other medical supplies to each other. Time and again, we have seen our people and our governments cooperate in friendship to overcome global challenges.
This virus does not discriminate based on race, color, or nationality. We are all equally at risk. This pandemic reminds us of our shared humanity, and what we can accomplish when we work together. All countries must safeguard the rights and well-being of all their citizens and ensure that none of their rights are sacrificed in the name of disease prevention.
The United States will continue to help the world build resilient health care systems that can prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Just as we have made the world more healthy, peaceful, and prosperous for generations, so too will we lead the fight against the current pandemic, and help the international community rise stronger in its wake.
Mr. Smith is Consul-General of the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong.