Chinese consul: Respect the facts and stay away from lies

Now the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading fast over the world and has seriously undermined global public health security. No country can tackle this disease on its own. It is the time more than ever that the international community needs solidarity and cooperation. At the crucial time for every country to fight against the disease, however, I have heard few organizations are disregarding the facts, denigrating and smearing China. They try to undertake the so-called “class action”, and demand China accountable and compensate for the epidemic. This is totally baseless and is confusing the public. Hereby I would like to address the following facts.

  1. China responds to the epidemic and develops international cooperation in an open, transparent and timely manner.

  There is criticism that China ignored and concealed the situation during the early phase of the epidemic. But actually, through China’s timeline of epidemic prevention and control, it is quite clear how Chinese government responded to the epidemic in a timely and decisive manner, and how China shared epidemic information as well as developing cooperation with the international community openly and transparently.

  On December 27, 2019, relevant Wuhan authorities received the first report of suspected cases. From January 3, 2020, China started to update the WHO and relevant countries about COVID-19 on a regular basis. On January 7, China CDC identified the first novel coronavirus strain. On January 12, China shared with the world the whole genome sequencing information of the coronavirus, which has been critical for diagnosis and vaccine development in other countries. Although there was limited scientific research data for reference at the beginning of the outbreak, China responded promptly and received high evaluation from international experts.

  As reported by major media in the world, on January 23, Wuhan, a city of over 10 million people, was put under quarantine, which was unseen before. China has made great achievements in public health over the past a few decades. If it was not due to the fierce virus, why would China choose for a lockdown during the Chinese Spring Festival? China has adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures to prevent and control the disease. With the efforts and sacrifice of Chinese people, China has contained the spread of the virus in just over two months, and has made great contributions to the international efforts to combat the virus.

  1. It is neither reasonable nor legal to demand compensation from China.

  China is one of the victims of the epidemic, and is the first country to report the COVID-19 cases, but that does not necessarily make China the origin of the novel coronavirus. Not long ago, the WHO concluded based on the research of many scientists that the new coronavirus came from nature. As for its origin, no conclusion has been reached yet. It’s a complicated scientific matter that should be the subject of study for scientists and medical experts.

  I have noticed there are reports of cases in the US and some other countries which are believed to be earlier than those in Wuhan. There is still lots of discussion among scientists about the origin of the virus. In this regard, we should have the basic concept that there is a process to understand a new virus. With the development of the epidemic, scientists will have a more clear understanding of the nature of the virus, which will definitely help mankind to win the battle against the epidemic.

  Regardless the origin of the virus, at this particular time people should focus on domestic epidemic control and international anti-epidemic cooperation. To this end, medical personnel in various countries are making their efforts to save lives regardless of personal safety. During this period, the hype to blame China is tantamount to spreading political virus, which is more terrible than the virus in nature.

  Meanwhile, as for accountability, there is no legal basis. No international law supports to blame a country that first reported an epidemic. And there is no precedent as well. Has any country been blamed or held accountable after major outbreak of AIDS and H1N1 flu?

  The Dutch Caribbean islands were also hit by the epidemic. Over the past two months, nearly 200 confirmed cases have been reported. However, the islands responded in a timely manner and controlled the epidemic through measures including travel restrictions, shelter-in-place orders and curfews. I am pleased to see that the relevant measures have achieved positive results. There has been no large-scale community transmission of the virus, and also no new cases among the islands in the past one week. Relevant measures are being gradually eased and it is expected to resume normal life in the following period.

  I am also pleased to see that the Chinese communities have organized themselves to actively donate masks and other necessary anti-epidemic materials to local police departments, hospitals, etc., and donate daily products to poor families in the community. It demonstrates the traditional virtue of Chinese people of sharing weal and woe.

  Since January, I have maintained communication with government officials and medical experts, exchanging epidemic prevention technology, introducing China's progress fighting against the epidemic, and providing all possible assistance.

  China sincerely upholds the concept of building community of shared future for mankind. Since the outbreak, countries around the world have been understanding it in a more intuitive way. Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that unity and cooperation are the international community’s most potent weapon to overcome the pandemic. I believe that as long as we are united and support each other, we will be able to win the battle against the disease at an early date.

 

Li Yigang

Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Willemstad