Keep Calm and Fight Together --Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Sun Weidong Gave Interview to Press Trust of India on Pneumonia Epidemic Caused by the Novel Coronavirus

        On February 4th, 2020, Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Sun Weidong gave interview to Press Trust of India (PTI). The main content of the interviews is as follows:

  Q:India appreciates China's arrangements to protect Indian citizens in China. Next, how will China continue to cooperate with India to prevent and control the epidemic and protect the health and safety of Indian citizens in Hubei province?

  A:Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has been in contact with India to keep it informed of the epidemic development and China's prevention and control efforts.

  On January 31st, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a telephone conversation with External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar. State Councilor Wang emphasized that the Chinese government and people are making every effort to fight the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. We have taken the most comprehensive and rigorous containment and mitigation measures, and many of them go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations (2005). Foreign Governments and the World Health Organization have fully recognized China's efforts.

  Dr. Jaishankar said that India supports the Chinese government and people's resolute efforts in fighting the epidemic and appreciates China's openness, transparency and sense of responsibility. India is confident that China will ultimately prevail over this challenge.

  Everyone is equal before life. We have always given top priority to the safety of life of Chinese and foreign nationals in Wuhan, and mobilized a large amount of living and medical resources in combating the epidemic. By far, the epidemic is generally preventable, controllable and curable.

  As for Indian readers' concerns over the supply of goods and materials, Wuhan has taken strict measures to prevent the traffic and personnel from entering and leaving the city. At the same time, all supermarkets are open, and the supply of daily necessities is sufficient to ensure the daily needs of Chinese and foreign nationals. An Indian student in Wuhan also posted a video, saying that the supply of daily necessities at school is guaranteed and he has confidence in the Chinese government's strong anti-epidemic measures.

  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local governments of China have done a lot work to ensure the health and safety of Indian nationals in China. They provided necessary assistance and convenience to the Indian diplomatic and consular missions in China. According to WHO's professional advice, it is better to remain calm, increase awareness and not rush to travel. For those foreign nationals who prefer to leave, China has actively assist them to take inspection and screening, in order to prevent those with symptoms like fever from becoming new sources of infection. This demonstrates China's professionalism and responsibility in scientific prevention. It is also aimed at interrupting further spread of the virus and contributing to global efforts in containing the epidemic.

  A colleague from Foreign Affairs Office of Hubei Province told me a true story. A foreign student at Three Gorges University was unfit to leave due to abnormal body temperature. He felt stressed and kept in touch with my colleague, said he worried that the university might not allow him go back and he might be left on the road. But after checking with the university, he was accommodated at a hotel in the college, where the living conditions are better than the dormitory. Every day, the school doctor takes his temperature, and the food is delivered to his room. That's what we say the disease is ruthless, but the human beings are compassionate.

  We hope that the Indian citizens would not overreact or be panic over the outbreak. It is better to remain rational and calm, and judge China's prevention and control efforts with objectivity and compassion. We need your understanding and support for the cooperation between China and India in epidemic control to ensure normal personnel exchanges and trade between the two countries. China is ready to continue to work with India, strengthen communication and coordination, and safeguard the health and safety of Indian citizens in China.

  Q:Will the outbreak of the new coronavirus affect India's trade with China, as it has caused panic among countries that have significant trade with China?

  A:In the fight against the epidemic, we shoulder the responsibility not only for the Chinese people, but also the international community. The number of confirmed cases reported overseas only accounts for less than 1 percent of the total number within China. After his visit to China, the WHO Director-General expressed deep appreciation for the extraordinary measures taken by China, believing that China is actually setting a global standard for response.

  When the Director General of WHO declared that the outbreak of 2019-nCoV constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), it emphasized that it does not recommend any travel or trade restriction. This declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but to take care of other countries with relatively poor sanitary conditions. It is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China's capacity to control the outbreak. WHO's advice should serve as an important reference when the international community responds to the epidemic.

  In the telephone conversation between State Councilor Wang Yi and EAM Dr. Jaishankar, Mr. Wang said that, to address transnational public health challenges in this era of globalization, we need to stay objective and rational, and step up communication and coordination, and that all should play a constructive role. We don't think it is helpful for certain country to hype up the situation, or even create panic. As a responsible country, China is not only protecting the health of its people, but also that of people around the world. Dr. Jaishankar responded that it is important to evaluate the outbreak in an objective and rational manner and not take actions that may complicate the situation.

  There could be a short-term impact of the epidemic on China's economy. But I think there is no need to be pessimistic about the Chinese economy. First, the fundamentals of the Chinese economy remain unchanged and China's internal resilience is growing. The Chinese government has ample resources and policy tools to cope with economic volatility. Second, the long-term positive trend of the Chinese economy will remain, with economic creativity and the quality of growth improving. Third, China has rich experience in successfully dealing with SARS and the international financial crisis. This time will be no exception. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently expressed confidence that the Chinese government has sufficient policy space to stabilize economic growth.

  As important emerging economies, China and India have broad space for cooperation in fields such as economy, trade and investment. Both sides have decided to establish a high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanism, strengthen alignment of economic development strategies, explore the establishment of Manufacturing Partnership, and promote balanced and sustainable growth of bilateral trade. Given economic and trade cooperation between China and India is mutually beneficial in nature and serves the fundamental interests of both sides, I am confident that it should not and will not be hindered by short-term difficulties. We should not suspend but expand the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. We also call on India and other countries to follow WHO's recommendations and refrain from trade restrictions.

  Q: As part of the precautionary measures, some countries have imposed visa restrictions on Chinese nationals. What's your comment? Are you seeking cooperation with India and other countries to deal with this outbreak?

  A:When facing the epidemic, what we need most is to work together to jointly overcome the difficulties. While fighting the epidemic, the Chinese Government carried out international cooperation with openness, transparency and high sense of responsibility. China quickly identified the virus and shared its sequence with WHO, relevant nations and regions in a timely manner. Chinese diplomatic missions overseas also keep close communication with the host governments to timely brief on China's prevention and control efforts.

  Wuhan and Hubei province are the core area of epidemic prevention and control, where China has taken the most stringent and thorough measures. The epidemic in China is generally preventable, controllable and curable. The WHO has made it clear that it does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions on China. We understand that some countries take reasonable and necessary testing measures, but oppose practices of overreaction even panic-creation.

  This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India and the "Year of China-India Cultural and People-to-People Exchange". We sincerely hope that India will take measures consistent with the WHO's recommendations and the consensus reached by the two foreign ministers, maintain a rational, calm, scientific judgment and response, and ensure normal exchanges of personnel between the two countries. China is ready to further strengthen international cooperation on public health with the international community including India.

  Q:Do you have confidence to contain the epidemic? If yes, how?

  A:China is now in a critical period of epidemic control. The Chinese government and people are making every effort to combat the epidemic.

  Since its outbreak, President Xi Jinping has attached great importance and repeatedly given important instructions. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has set up a leading group for comprehensive prevention and control of the epidemic. The central and local governments have built an all-round and multi-level prevention and control system focusing on Wuhan city and Hubei province as core areas. We are advancing the battle in an open, transparent, scientific and orderly manner.

  We are now strengthening case treatment to reduce severe and fatal cases. We set up a national expert group on scientific research to speed up the development of vaccines. We accelerate the approval and clinical use of drugs proven to be effective against the virus. We have developed effective coronavirus detection reagent in a short time, so we are able to quickly identify infected people.

  The State Council of China has established a unified national dispatch system for epidemic prevention and control materials, which can timely coordinate the dispatch of medical personnel, supplies and daily necessities. It took less than 10 days to build the first specialized hospital named Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan. The hospital has 1,400 PLA medical personnel and 1,000 beds, which will play an important role in controlling the epidemic. It is termed by foreign media as super fast. The construction of another specialized hospital named Leishenshan Hospital is going to be completed soon.

  With China's unremitting efforts, the fatality rate of the novel coronavirus nationwide has been controlled under 2.1 percent, far lower than the rate of any other epidemic such as Ebola, H1N1, SARS and MERS. Since February 1, the number of people discharged from hospital after recovery has started to significantly surpass the number of deaths, an important symbol showing the epidemic is controllable and curable. By February 4, 739 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals.

  As the Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros said, the speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words. The measures which Chinese government has taken are decisive in curbing the spread of pneumonia.

  China's system enables us to mobilize all the resources for big undertakings. We have full confidence and capability to win the battle against the epidemic.

  Q:Could you share the details of assistance by various parties to Wuhan?

  A:China has mobilized personnel from all over the country to support Hubei province. As of February 3, over 8,130 doctors and nurses of 68 medical teams have arrived in Hubei province. The total number of medical personnel in Wuhan exceeds 60,000 strong. China welcomes the visit of the WHO expert group, and stands ready to further enhance international cooperation in combating the epidemic and jointly safeguard public health safety in the region and the world at large.

  A number of Indian friends from various sectors have expressed their support and solidarity with China in fighting the epidemic in different ways. They told me that they stand firmly with China at this difficult time. I was deeply touched by and grateful for their sincere words and deeds. I also wish those Indian patients of confirmed case an early recovery. I firmly believe that with the concerted efforts of the international community, we are able to defeat the virus, the common devil of mankind, and win the final victory against the epidemic.

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