H.E. Ambassador Sun Gongyi Gives an Interview to "Weekly"on COVID-19

On March 26, H. E. Ambassador Sun Gongyi gave an interview to "Weekly" on COVID-19, answering questions about China's achievements in the fight against COVID-19, resumption of work and production in China, China's cooperation with other countries on the fight against COVID-19 and China's cooperation with Mauritius on the fight against the virus. The full text is as follows:


1. The coronavirus seems to be making its way out of China. What are the major factors that have helped towards curbing it?

Answer: After the outbreak of the epidemic, the Chinese government adopted the most comprehensive, the strictest, and the most complete prevention and control measures in order to fight with determination against the coronavirus. With many hard efforts, the epidemic prevention and control work in China has borne successful, bringing important positive results that have been achieved step by step.


China's main methods include the following:

One, pay high attention to the elements of the greatest importance. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, President Xi Jinping has personally directed and deployed the operations, representing the link between the government and the general public. The government's decision-making, people's cooperation, mass prevention and control have enabled to put people's health and safety at the first place, and resolutely limit the spread of the epidemic.

Two, make firm decisions and take dispositions. China has firmly decided to adopt a series of "ultra-conventional" measures, including the lock-down of the most-affected epidemic area of Wuhan, the extension of the Spring Festival holidays, the delay of the schools re-opening date, the closure of public places, the cancellation of festivals public celebrations, and the restriction of personnel movements. In a very short period of time, a virus detection test that can quickly identify infected people has been developed, and 2 specialised hospitals equipped with more than 2,000 beds have been built in 15 days, making early detection, early diagnosis, early isolation, and early treatment effective. These measures have effectively reversed the epidemic situation in China. 

Three, coordinate all the activities of the nation as in a chess game. The Chinese government has adopted the "One province, one city" policy, a one-to-one support relationship established among 16 provinces to support Wuhan and other cities. This policy strengthened the country by gathering high-quality resources and by fully supporting the Hubei Province with workforce for patient treatments. Under the unified command, coordination and scheduling orchestrated by the central government, China has adhered to precise measures designed for the whole country. These have effectively alleviated the shortage of medical resources in all cities of the Province of Hubei and enabled to put in place the whole detection, diagnosis and treatment chain, hence providing strong support to all in order to win this resistance war.

Four: Extensive use of new high technology. Since the epidemic outbreak, some high-technology platforms have cooperated with local governments to build digital economy industrial parks. They jointly opened special emergency supply channels and launched medical service platforms to provide free online medical services for the pneumonia epidemic caused by the coronavirus infection, effectively relieving the pressure of hospitals. They also opened "zero contacts deliveries" logistic platforms to ensure security in people's daily life.

Five: open up and cooperate. Since the epidemic prevention work has started, China has adopted a transparent and open attitude toward the world. Indeed, it has been sharing all the information available regarding the epidemic with all concerned parties in a timely manner. The Chinese government has also focussed on the health of  the foreign citizens residing in China and provided the same care as it did for its own citizens. Hence, local assistance and services hotlines as well as multilingual information platforms have been put in place by local governments all over the country. Right now, as China is continuing its epidemic prevention and control program, it also actively encourages and promotes all forms of international cooperation. It provides all support and help it can to countries in need, jointly putting prevention and control work in place with the relevant countries.

Now, the epidemic has spread all over the whole world and each country is taking the measures that they consider necessary. Epidemics have no borders. In such moment, it is important that every country in the world walk together, exchange about their experience, put in place close cooperation and elaborate jointly prevention and control work. China's experience can be used by others as a reference.


2. What was the price of the lockdown of a whole province?

Answer: In order to control the spread of the disease effectively, it was decided to "lock down" temporary Wuhan on January 23rd. Subsequently, other cities have taken similar measures according to their local situation, but not the entire province of Hubei was locked down. We all know that Hubei Province and the city of Wuhan are the top priorities in this fight to prevent and control the epidemic. Wuhan has tens of millions of inhabitants. The city lock down was put in place to control the spread of the epidemic, which is an extremely difficult task, and the lock down was an extremely difficult decision to take. Without any doubt, the epidemic brought lots of pain to Wuhan. But it is precisely thanks to the sacrifice, the dedication, the perseverance and the efforts of the people of Wuhan that the epidemic prevention and control in China is on the right track today.

The coronavirus is a challenge that the whole humanity is facing together. China has taken the strong measures that needed to be taken in order to face the epidemic situation, not only to take responsibility for its own people, but also to take responsibility for all the people in the world. The Chinese government as well as every Chinese citizen has contributed to control the spread of the epidemic, they have contributed to fight the epidemic in the whole world.  


3. What are the lessons learnt from this unfortunate episode?

As President Xi Jinping said, this epidemic prevention and control episode is a major test of China's governance system and capacity. This is an experience and also a lesson. On the long term, we need to review our global experience and learn from it, accelerate efforts to address weaknesses in the governance system and in public health, and improve the national emergency management system. We also need to improve our ability to handle urgent, difficult, dangerous and heavy tasks and strengthen institutional defences to ensure people's safety and health.

It  should be pointed out that the history of human civilisation is punctuated with fights against diseases. Viruses have no national boundaries. No country can be immune to new infectious diseases such as the coronavirus, and no country can standalone. Therefore, it is imperative to strengthen international health cooperation. Countries all around the world need to draw lessons from each other's experience in fighting against the epidemic, and learn from each other's beneficial practices. Based on the maintenance of people's life safety and health, we will improve and perfect the public health system of each country, and work together to build a "firewall" for human health.


4. You were the first to have been hit by the virus so you were a guinea pig in a way. Which country is dealing with the virus properly in your opinion?

Answer: Every country has its own way to fight against the disease according to their own national and epidemic situation. China fought with great efforts since the epidemic outbreak, and all the positive results obtained have been praised unanimously by the international community. China has communicated information openly, with transparency and in a timely manner. Within one week, the virus gene identification and sequencing have been completed, tests have been developed, and China proactively decided to share relevant technical data with the World Health Organization and other countries.

The rapidity and scale of China to implement measures is unprecedented in the world, which demonstrates China's efficiency. Thanks to China's drastic prevention and control measures along with the great sacrifices made by the Chinese people, the international community has gained precious time to fight the epidemic. The World Health Organization recently stated that some countries have made full use of the precious time China has saved to the world to take the necessary prevention and control measures in order control the spread of the epidemic in time.

The fight against the epidemic China has been going through is an important element in the world's epidemic prevention and control campaign. China's efforts and effectiveness have greatly contributed to the fight against the global epidemic. Viruses are the common enemy of the humanity. Hence, China will work together with other countries all around the world in order to overcome difficulties. This will contribute to China's final victory against the epidemic. Building a human community that share a common future will be promoted by this common fight against the epidemic worldwide.


5. With the knowledge of the virus you have today, what would you have done differently if you were fighting it now?

Answer: The covid-19 is a new type of virus and humans need to go through a whole process to understand it and respond to it. When facing this unexpected new virus, the Chinese government quickly made comprehensive judgment based on research. It also took precise scientific prevention and control measures, and established a nationwide mechanism to prevent and control the epidemic. It was proven by the facts that our judgment was accurate and that the measures we took are effective. Experts from the World Health Organization who came to China to make investigation believe that these measures have contributed to control effectively the spread of the epidemic and to reduce greatly the fatality rate. It is worth learning from these facts.

As I just mentioned, based on its experience in  preventing and controlling the coronavirus epidemic, China will speed up to address the weaknesses and shortcomings of its governance and public health system, and will improve the national emergency management system. Therefore, if we face again this kind of unexpected situation, our "toolbox" will be filled up with better tools and our response will be more even more effective.


6. Many people are worried there might be food shortages in their countries because China has been out of work for a few months. Do you have the same fears?

At the moment, the situation of the epidemic in China is getting better and better, and the economic society will also get back on track quickly. In the process of expanding the opening-up, we will promote the whole industrial chain to speed up the resumption of production in a specific order, and take multiple measures to stabilise foreign trade and investment. Outside the province of Hubei, the operating rate of large industrial enterprises is more than 95% and the operating rate of small and medium-sized enterprises has reached about 60%.

During the epidemic episode, the Chinese government allocated uniformly resources throughout the country, and there was no shortage of goods or food. As economic life is getting back to normal, market supply will be guaranteed. Looking at the data from January to February, China's economy has been affected to some extent, but generally speaking, it has well resisted. It can be confirmed that the epidemic had a temporary and limited effect on China's economy. The fundamentals of the Chinese economy have been improving for a long time, and the factors and conditions that support the high-quality development of the Chinese economy remain unchanged. I still believe that China's economy will continue to develop as expected. Following the spread of the epidemic globally, China has resumed the delivery of basic consumables, raw materials and manufactured products to the world in a relatively short period of time, which has undoubtedly given the world a "soothing pill". The epidemic will certainly have an impact on the production and on people's life, but we will not contribute to unnecessary artificial panic. With the epidemic, every country needs to strengthen international coordination by ensuring normal exchanges and cooperation. In order to maintain the supply chain unimpeded and ensure stability of the industry, the number of cargo shipment need to be increased.


7. Your government offered help to Italy which is in the middle of a crisis due to the virus. Tell us more about that?

Answer: since the epidemic outbreak, China has kept  close communication and cooperation with many countries, including Italy. We have exchanged and shared views and experience about prevention and control through discussion groups of health expert of different countries, by video conferences and other means. In order to help Italy to face the coronavirus, Chinese government has decided to send a group of medical experts to help them fight against the epidemic. China has sent two groups of medical experts to Italy with dozens of tons of medical supplies, the third group is going to leave. The medical experts have shared their experience regarding treatment, the use of medicine, and the control of the infection in hospitals with the Italian Ministry of Health, the Red cross, and the higher Institute of research among other organizations. International solidarity and cooperation are vital to face the epidemic. China is willing to work with all the countries in the world, including Italy, to defeat humanity's "public enemy number one".


8. Is there any help to be extended to other countries in case of need?

Answer: We completely understand the difficulties the  countries in the world where the epidemic has surfaced are facing, and we have a lot of sympathy for them. In fact, while China is doing a good job in preventing and controlling the epidemic in its own territory, it also has been providing support and assistance in different ways to relevant countries at the same time. China has already translated the latest version of the diagnosis and treatment plan as well as the prevention and control program into different languages​to share and exchange with other countries around the world. We have also sent teams of medical experts to Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Italy and Serbia to provide assistance for the epidemic prevention and control work of these countries. At present, the Chinese government has overcome its own difficulties and donated 20 million US dollars to the World Health Organization to support the prevention and control of the coronavirus and the development of public health systems in developing countries.

China has donated a number of nucleic acid test kits and other epidemic prevention materials such as masks and protective clothing to the African Union, South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Iran, Italy, and Serbia. China's local governments, companies and non-governmental organizations have also promised to actively provide material through donations to  the concerned countries. So far, China has held video conferences with health experts from the European Union, the ASEAN, the African Union, the CARICOM, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as South Pacific, Central and Eastern European countries. On March 18th, a similar video conference with African countries, including Mauritius, was organised in order to introduce the latest progress in fighting the coronavirus epidemic.

China and Africa are friends, partners, and brothers. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, African countries and regional organizations have given to China solid and valuable support in different ways. This completely reflects the fraternal relationship between China and Africa. It also truly contributes to building a common destiny for our countries and to get our communities closer. At present, cases have been confirmed in many countries in Africa, and the epidemic situation is getting more and more serious. While strengthening its own epidemic prevention, China is willing to share its experience in fighting the epidemic with the African side without reservation and actively provide as much support and assistance as it can. While China will continue to do its best to fight the epidemic situation within its own borders, it is willing to provide as much assistance as it possibly can to the relevant countries to win the war against the epidemic. At the same time, we will continue to implement the concept of building a common destiny for mankind, which was the outcome of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation held in Beijing. We will help countries with weak health systems to strengthen their capacity, and jointly maintain regional and global public health security.


9. What are the steps China will follow to get back on its feet?

Answer: The coronavirus epidemic crisis will inevitably impact China's economy and society. However, the fundamentals of the Chinese economy have been improving for a long time and remain unchanged. The impact of the epidemic is temporary and globally controllable. At present, China is organising the resumption of its production, focusing on six aspects. First, we will resume production work gradually by zones. Low-risk areas will adjust their prevention and control strategies to the input of external prevention as soon as possible. Production and life order should be fully restored. Middle-risk areas will resume work and production step by step, according to the prevention and control situation. High-risk areas should continue to focus on the epidemic prevention and control. Second, we will increase the adjustment of macro policies. We will continue to implement a proactive and a prudent fiscal and monetary policy. Indeed, we will study and introduce gradually targeted tax and fee reduction policies to help small, medium and micro-enterprises to overcome difficulties. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Central Bank of China has intensified targeted regulation and control measures, and has implemented precise policies in order to support the development of the real economy. On March 16th, the Central Bank of China took the decision to implement a targeted reduction of inclusive finance, which represent reductions of 0.5 to 1 percentage point for banks that meet the assessment criteria. Third: we will encourage production resumption by opening up the flow of workers and logistics, release the restrictions on freight, and coordinated the production resumption in all points of the industrial chain. Fourth: we will not miss the opportunity to make good agricultural production during spring in order to ensure the supply of important agricultural products. Fifth: we will effectively protect the people's basic livelihood. We will ensure the supply of food and non-staple food, strengthen the protection of the needy, and give special attention to patients care, especially to the families whose relatives have passed away. Sixth: we will stabilise the basic foreign investment in the foreign capital market. We will ensure the smooth operation of the foreign trade industrial and supply chain, we will continue to optimise the business environment, and we will enhance foreign business confidence in long-term investment.

As I already mentioned, the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the Chinese economy is temporary and limited. The factors and conditions that support the high-quality of the development of the Chinese economy remain unchanged. China's will resume production work in a timely manner and when it will return to its normal economic operations, it will also provide guarantees for maintaining the stability and safety of the global industrial chain and supply chain. Besides, during the epidemic crisis, major video software companies in partnership with domestic education companies have launched online education programs. Hence, it ensured that teachers and students that stopped school would not stop to study. With the domestic epidemic under control, schools in various regions gradually have resumed classes. Shopping malls and attractions are also gradually being reopened, and the daily routine of the people is gradually getting back to normal.



10. The US and China are pointing the fingers at each other about the origin of the virus. Why?

Answer: At present, we are still tracing the origin of the coronavirus, and for the time being, there is no conclusion. So far, research by scientists has shown that the outbreak first occurred in Wuhan, China, but the origin of the virus is not necessarily China. The World Health Organization named the new coronavirus "COVID-19", and has repeatedly pointed out that it was a global phenomenon of which the original source remains uncertain. At this time, we should pay attention on how to deal with the virus and refuse to stigmatise particular regions. China has always believed that the source of the epidemic is a scientific problem, and scientists need to continue their researches in order to reach scientific conclusions. The purpose of finding the source is to enable humans to defeat the virus and avoid repeating the same mistakes. We are opposed to certain politicians who try to use it to make political articles, stigmatise China, promote racial discrimination, instigate hatred, and create confrontation. This is going against the international community's concerted efforts to fight against the epidemic. Chinese leaders have never made irresponsible remarks. The epidemic is a common challenge faced by all, and co-operation is the right way. What we need is to overcome ignorance with science and resist prejudice with cooperation.


11. Has the Mauritian government approached the Chinese government with a specific request for help? What according to China are the most urgent items that Mauritius needs? What kind of help is the Chinese government willing to extend?

Answer: China and Mauritius have established friendly bilateral relations. The Chinese Government will provide as much help as possible to Mauritius in fighting the epidemic. The Chinese Embassy is maintaining close communication with the Mauritian Government.


12. There is a second wave of coronavirus infection in several countries like China that thought they had successfully fought the virus. How worrying is that and what measures are being taken to combat it?

Answer: According to statistics released by the National Health Commission of China, as of 24:00 on March 23, a total of 427 confirmed imported cases had been reported, among which 380 Chinese nationals and 47 foreign nationals.

Facing this situation, preventing imported cases has become a key task of China's epidemic prevention and control work now. China has imposed stricter screening and quarantine measures on travelers entering the border through flights, trains, ships and roads as coronavirus cases soared around the world. For example, Beijing will upgrade its novel coronavirus prevention measures regarding international travelers starting from midnight on Wednesday 25 March, all people entering China via ports in Beijing will be quarantined in designated facilities in the city for 14 days regardless of their final destinations, as well as tested for the virus. Several other cities of China have also imposed measures like this.


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