The first delivery of COVID-19 vaccine from China arrives in Bangkok, Thailand, on Feb 24. XINHUA Envoys strengthen efforts to defeat contagion Many Chinese diplomats working overseas have had to reduce or cancel business trips back home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they have remained at their posts to bolster the fight against the outbreak and maintain cooperation and exchanges with other countries. Four senior diplomats were unable to return to China to attend the two sessions this year in their capacity as the country's senior political advisers. The quartet are Chinese ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou, UNESCO Deputy Director-General Qu Xing, China's Permanent Representative to the European Union Zhang Ming and Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zhang Qiyue. The pandemic meant they could not attend in-person the annual gathering of the 45-strong subgroup of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. This group, which comprises professional figures such as diplomats, trade officials and think tank scholars, focuses on offering policy advice for foreign affairs and friendly exchanges with nations worldwide. On March 4, a special message to the four diplomats was projected on a video screen during the group's preparatory meeting, according to the CPPCC National Committee's official newspaper issued the following day. The message stated, "As we gather in Beijing to perform our duties and discuss national affairs, we would like to extend great respect and sincere greetings to you as you stay committed to your posts overseas and strive to serve the motherland's interests as well as the global fight against the pandemic." It was signed by the group's members who attended the physical meeting, according to one of them, Han Fangming, president of the Charhar Institute, an international relations think tank. "Last year, they (the diplomats) were unable to return home to attend the two sessions (in May), as due to the impact of the pandemic, they had to continue serving international organizations or working on behalf of the country," Han said. This year, some members of the group proposed sending the message to the four, and the suggestion received unanimous agreement.