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Build a Strong National Shield Against Biosecurity Threats

Source: Xi Jinping The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-10-09

Build a Strong National Shield Against Biosecurity Threats*

September 29, 2021

Biosecurity is vital to the lives and health of our people, to the long-term peace and order of our country, and to the future of the Chinese nation. It is an essential component of overall national security that might affect and even reshape the global landscape. Therefore we must fully recognize the significance and urgency of strengthening biosecurity management. We should adopt a holistic approach to national security, enforce the Biosecurity Law, and coordinate development and security. Following the principles of people first, risk prevention, category-based management, and coordination, we will take stronger measures to prevent and curb biosecurity risks, improve the system and capacity for national biosecurity governance, and build a strong and effective national shield against biosecurity threats.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the central leadership has prioritized biosecurity management on its agenda and included it in the national security strategy. The Biosecurity Law has been promulgated and implemented, policies and strategies on national biosecurity have been developed, and systems and mechanisms for biosecurity management have been improved. The central leadership has actively responded to major biosecurity risks and strengthened efforts to better protect and utilize biological resources. It has mobilized the entire Party, country and society to wage a people’s war against the Covid-19 epidemic. Our early awareness and preemptive capability against biothreats have improved, our foundations for safeguarding biosecurity have been constantly reinforced, and our efforts to ensure biosecurity have yielded results of historic significance.

Today, due to the overlap of traditional problems and new risks concerning biosecurity, together with the presence of overseas biothreats combined with domestic risks, new facets of biosecurity protection are becoming apparent. In addition, there are shortcomings and weaknesses in our risk management and governance system against biothreats. This requires that we conduct a science-based analysis of the situation, accurately identify the risks and challenges we face, adopt a right approach to stronger biosecurity management, and apply corresponding measures.

We should reinforce the national biosecurity governance system by planning and conducting strategic and forward-looking studies, and by improving the nation’s biosecurity strategy. Refinements should be made to the governance mechanism under which Party committees exercise leadership, governments assume responsibility, non-governmental actors provide assistance, the public are involved, and legal support is in place, and to the mechanism for coordinating biosecurity-related activities at all levels. We will make an all-out effort to improve legislation, law enforcement, judicature, legal education, and observance of the law. This means we need to improve the legal system and institutional guarantees, carry out a public education program on relevant laws and regulations as well as the basics of biosecurity, and raise public awareness of biosecurity risks. The grassroots foundations will be reinforced to create a prevention and control mechanism involving governments at all levels and the whole of society.

We should strengthen systematic governance and whole-process prevention and control by adopting systems thinking, taking science-based measures, making comprehensive plans, and ensuring whole-process management. We need to build a sound network and a solid system for risk monitoring and early warning, with a focus on building monitoring facilities at the grassroots and strengthening their ability to identify risks. Potential threats from new and unexpected infectious diseases, outbreaks of serious diseases in plants and animals, drug resistance of microorganisms, and the impact of biotechnology on the environment should be detected and identified at an early stage, thus enabling a timely warning and response. We will establish sound contingency plans for biosecurity emergencies to improve the rapid response mechanism, and expand the reserve of emergency supply and industrial capacity. We will take proactive measures to prevent and control animal diseases in order to cut down the transmission of zoonoses at source. To achieve more targeted and effective prevention of animal and plant diseases, we need to ensure proper functioning of grassroots prevention and control mechanisms, clarify the functions of relevant institutions, and improve their professional competence.

We should focus on the sectors most exposed to biosecurity risks and remain alert to worst-case scenarios and potential risks. It is important to strengthen oversight of biological resource security, and devise a catalog of biological and human genetic resources and keep it up to date. To ensure our borders and passes are defended well, we should adopt stricter border quarantine measures, analyze potential risks, and punish all violations. We should accurately identify inbound biohazards that have caused serious harm in our country, and take targeted measures to eliminate them one by one. We must strengthen biosecurity management of pathogenic microorganism laboratories, requiring them to strictly follow all relevant standards and norms and to strictly manage samples, animals and waste associated with related experiments. Management must be intensified over the use and residues of antimicrobial drugs.

We should accelerate innovation and industrial application of biotechnology for greater self-reliance in biosecurity-related science and technology, and strengthen our scientific and technological capabilities to implement the national biosecurity strategy. We should improve the mechanism for key scientific research projects, strictly oversee the research, development and application of biotechnology, and strengthen management of biological laboratories. We should carry out strict ethical reviews of research projects and provide ethical education to scientists. To ensure sound development of biotechnology we will encourage industrial application of bio-breeding and bio-pharmaceutical technologies in an orderly manner, on the preconditions that science is respected, strict oversight is in place, laws and regulations are observed, and safety is guaranteed. Useful traditional concepts should be integrated into modern biotechnology, and traditional Chinese medicine be combined with Western medicine. We should popularize the technologies and models of biological and eco-friendly pest and disease control, and regulate the use of antibiotic medicines, so as to promote harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

We should actively participate in global biosecurity governance. China will work with the international community to address mounting challenges in this area, and reinforce bilateral and multilateral cooperation and exchanges in policy-making, risk assessment, emergency response, information sharing, and capacity building. We will ensure the smooth hosting of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and facilitate the formulation of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, offering Chinese ideas and approaches to the international community. We advocate origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus based on scientific principles and rules.

Strengthening our biosecurity management will be a long and arduous task requiring constant and concrete efforts. Party committees, Party leadership groups, and governments at all levels must effectively align their thinking and actions with the decisions and plans of the central Party leadership. They must ensure accountability for biosecurity, and fulfill their responsibilities and missions with dedication. We will increase investment, improve relevant policies and measures, and guarantee the functioning of key elements, so that we will achieve tangible results, build a modern risk management and governance system, and keep the biosecurity of our country firmly in our own hands. We must persevere in the fight against Covid-19, remaining vigilant, avoiding slackening our efforts and taking chances, and strictly enforcing prevention and control measures, so that our hard-won gains will not be lost.


* Main points of the speech at the 33rd group study session of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)