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China's Solidarity to Fight Against COVID-19 is Highly Applauded by the International Community

(By Spokesperson of the Embassy of the People's Republic Public of China in Barbados)

Regarding a recently column written by Mr. Mohammed Iqbal Degia, publicized in the Nation newspaper on April 21, 2020, I would like to correct the mistakes in that article.

First, the doubts on China’s solidarity to combat the COVID-19 and the transparency of its manner to do so, as well as the so-called of “horrific treatment” to African people in Guangzhou and “genocide” of the Uyghur in Xinjiang are all as groundless as those rumors, like COVID-19 was invented in a lab, which Mr. Degia himself refuses to trust.

Second, there was no delay to report or intention to cover up the virus. To the opposite, China's handling and notification is extremely speedy, open, transparent and responsible, especially when taking into account that COVID-19 is a brand-new virus, it would naturally take some time to compass the right direction by making scientific and prudent assessment of its character, transmissibility and severity to stem the spread of the virus. Let’s see the following timeline:

On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at Hubei Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, reported the first three suspected cases;

On December 29, centers for disease control and prevention and hospitals in Hubei and Wuhan carried out epidemiological investigation;

On December 30, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued an "urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause";

On December 31, the National Health Commission of China sent an expert group to Wuhan to investigate on site;

On January 3, 2020, China started to send timely updates to World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries, covering the number of diagnosed, suspected, severe, cured, dead and quarantined;

On January 11, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded five whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus online and shared data with the world and WHO;

On January 23, the decision to seal off Wuhan, a city of 11 million, the first time in human history, took only a few days, and unprecedented, comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures were adopted.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said "the speed and scale of China's move were rarely seen in the world." And according to a study in Science magazine, China's firm and speedy response cut the incidence by 96 percent than expected. Researchers in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries emphasized that China's control measures have successfully broken the chain of transmission and bought other countries valuable time.

Third, concerning the African people in Guangzhou, I want to emphasize that there is no and will never be any discriminatory policy toward any particular group of people in China. Guangzhou, as Mr. Degia put it, is a major city in China, and it recently faces increasing number of importing COVID-19 cases. To contain the spread of the virus and safeguard the safety and health of all people in Guangzhou, the city government proceeds some strict prevention and control measures, which are designed and implemented with the principle of treating everybody as equals, no matter where he/she comes from. But some of these measures were “misinterpreted” by some African people in Guangzhou, as H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Foreign Minister of Nigeria said in a recent press conference, while whose country was one of the first countries to raise this issue to China. After this issue was raised, China and Africa have maintained close communication and friendly consultation. Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi had a telephone conversation with Chairman Faki of the African Union Commission, and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong met with African diplomatic envoys to China. Both sides agreed that the traditional friendship between China and Africa is as solid as a rock and unbreakable. China and Africa will continue to stand firmly together to secure the final victory against the pandemic. It is informed that on the premise of complying with China’s provisions on epidemic prevention, many African nationals in Guangzhou are returning home in self-quarantine, and proper arrangements have been made for African nationals in difficulties there.

Fourth, it is not easy to understand the reason why the so-called “genocide of the Uyghur of East Turkistan” is raised in a COVID-19 column, which is also a false allegation. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, located in the northwest of China, is the home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Uyghur people. There is no “genocide” in Xinjiang. The truth is that terrorist attack has long been a challenge to Xinjiang people, and the so-called Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement which relates to “East Turkistan” in Mr. Degia’s column and has been listed as one of the terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council, carried most of the attacks. To contain the terrorism and protect the life and social order, the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region provides local people with vocational knowledge and skills, by doing so to decrease the probability of them being affected by the terrorist ideology and carrying the terrorist actions. So far, this practice has drawn good results. Xinjiang has seen no violent terrorist attacks for three consecutive years, social public security notably improved, and people of all ethnic groups live and work in peace.

Viruses respect no borders and epidemics do not distinguish between races. As H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, wrote in a recent article, solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons to defeat the pandemic. It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, make a collective response in solidarity, and comprehensively step up international cooperation to enable humanity to win the battle against this serious infectious disease. China appreciates the valuable understanding and support from the international community, including Barbados, when China was at the most difficult moment in the fight against the outbreak. At current stage, when the situation against the epidemic in China is getting better, China is providing and will continue to provide support to other countries to combat the COVID-19 as its ability permits and together to uphold global public health security. With that said, we wonder whether Mr. Degia has observed China’s recent efforts to provide urgently-needed medical supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations, with Barbados included, as well as efforts of facilitating other countries' commercial purchase in China. These actions show China’s solidarity to work with others to win the global battle against COVID-19.

Last, we believe that at this critical moment when we human beings are together facing the common challenges brought by the coronavirus, what we need is facts and solidarity, rather than misinformation and stigma. It should be a fight of the whole world against the virus, rather than an in-fight among our global village. We welcome Mr. Degia to continue to pay his attention to China, and continue to contribute suggestions to Chinese development, but we do hope the comments that Mr. Degia made are fact-based, rather than hearsay or fabrications.

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