China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday promised US$3 billion in aid to developing countries to fight Covid-19 at an unprecedented emergency online meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) heads of state.
Xi said the additional funds, which come after a similar pledge in May, were intended to “support Covid-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Appearing via a video-link, Xi added that China has already supplied developing countries with more than 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was scheduled to host the annual summit of leaders from the 21-nation Apec group in December, but called an additional meeting with less than five days’ notice to address urgent issues caused by the global pandemic.
US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are attending the meeting, which began on Friday evening Beijing time.
Faced with international criticism over how it handled the initial outbreak in the central city of Wuhan and calls for an international inquiry into the causes of the pandemic, Beijing has been keen to position itself as a saviour for other countries now struggling to control the virus.
China, where the coronavirus first surfaced in late 2019, has promised billions of dollars in aid, medical equipment and vaccines to countries around the world in recent months as it brought domestic outbreaks under control.