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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Daily Briefing Online on February 5, 2020

2020-02-05

Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia will pay a visit to China on February 5.

Q: As the international community pays high attention to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, many countries have expressed willingness to provide support and assistance. Can you update us on the international assistance China has received?

A: In the face of the epidemic, China mainly relies on its own strength to tackle the challenge. At the same time, we welcome and thank the sincere and friendly understanding, support and help from the international community.

As far as I know, as of noon February 5, the governments of 21 countries, namely, the ROK, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Hungary, Belarus, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, and UNICEF have donated epidemic prevention and control supplies to China. Friends in many countries have also offered us support in various means.

The donations speak volumes of their deep compassion. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I'd like to thank them all. China will continue to share information and strengthen cooperation with other countries in an open, transparent and highly responsible manner to safeguard the life and health of the Chinese people and contribute to regional and global public health security.

Q: After talking to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the phone, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif again tweeted in Chinese to applaud and thank China’s efforts against the 2019-nCoV. He also quoted a line from an ancient Chinese poem “Together we stand, my armors thine”, noting that “Iran stands firmly with China”. I wonder if you have a comment?

A: In this battle against the epidemic, China is not fighting alone. All Chinese people are united and determined. Many friendly nations expressed their support for China through various means. Iran and many other countries are standing with us. Foreign Minister Zarif was the first foreign minister to publicly support and encourage China, which in itself demonstrates the sincere and traditional friendship between Chinese and Iranian people. Iran has provided 3,000,000 surgical masks and expressed readiness to offer more assistance as China fights against the virus. We sincerely thank our Iranian friends for their valuable support at such a critical moment.

Faced with the sudden virus outbreak, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, ROK President Moon Jae-in and many other state leaders and people from all walks of life said that “we see China’s difficulties as our own”. Here I’d like to say China’s victory is also a victory for you and the world. China is taking the most rigorous and comprehensive measures against the 2019-nCoV. To quote yesterday’s data, cured and discharged cases were about four times of deaths. The total number of patients cured and discharged so far is nearly twice of those died of the virus. We have full confidence and capability in winning this battle at an early date. We do this for not only the Chinese people but also global public health.

Q: WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said on February 4 that trade and travel restrictions taken by some countries “can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit". Sylvie Briand, WHO director of global infectious hazard preparedness, said the WHO was seeking clarifications on the justifications for restrictions adopted by some countries and hoping countries would reconsider plans to evacuate nationals from China. What’s your comment?

A: Since the onset of the outbreak, the Chinese government, putting people’s health as the top priority, has taken the most comprehensive and strict prevention and control measures, many of which far exceed IHR requirements. It has been lauded by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros as setting a new standard for outbreak response. The WHO also reiterated that there is no ground for unnecessary travel restrictions and called on the international community to reject rumors and believe in science.

The vast majority of countries have expressed appreciation and support for China’s prevention and control measures. We understand and respect their appropriate response such as border screening and quarantine measures on Chinese travelers. At the same time, some countries have overreacted with excessive measures, which clearly runs counter to WHO recommendations. We hope that all countries can assess the epidemic situation in an objective, fair, calm and rational manner, respect WHO recommendations, and understand and support China's epidemic control efforts. The measures they take should be in line with WHO recommendations and not exceed reasonable levels to avoid affecting normal personnel exchanges and practical cooperation.

Fear is more horrible and infectious than virus. Faced with a public health crisis, countries should work together to overcome difficulties instead of just watching the fire burn across the river or making things worse for those in difficulties. This is in everyone’s interests.

Q: Can you confirm that President Xi Jinping’s trip to Japan will not be postponed due to the virus situation?

A: Japan is following the development of the epidemic together with China and the two sides are in communication. The two sides agree that joint efforts should be made to prepare for the next-stage major diplomatic agenda.

Q: What will the Chinese side discuss with the visiting Cambodian Prime Minister and why wasn’t he arranged to see the Cambodian students in Wuhan?

A: Prime Minister Hun Sen is coming to China today. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will meet with him respectively. Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks highly of China’s efforts against the epidemic and firmly believes that China will overcome current difficulties at an early date. He also said that the Cambodian people will share weal and woe with the Chinese people.

We fully understand that Prime Minister Hun Sen cares deeply for the Cambodian students in China. Considering the fact that Wuhan is doing all it can to fight the outbreak and given the tight schedule, a visit to Wuhan at this moment cannot be properly arranged. China attaches great importance to the health and security of Cambodian students in China. We will do our best to care for them as our own and make sure they have all they need during their study in China.

Q: According to some US media, the full-scale restrictive measures taken by the US in response to the epidemic will gravely hit US companies that rely on Chinese products or Chinese customers. Moody economist believed that such restrictive measures will lead to a reduction of Chinese tourists which will affect the US economy. Goldman Sachs on Friday said it expects the virus to dent the US economic growth in the first quarter by 0.4 percentage points as tourists from China will be reduced by 28% and their expenditure cut by $5.8 billion. What is your comment?

A: We have also noted that for several days, media, think tanks, experts and scholars of many countries have voiced their concerns over the excessive restrictive measures taken by some countries. WHO has stressed many times that it does not recommend measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade and called on all countries to combat the spread of rumors, stick to science and take evidence-based measures. We hope that the relevant countries will respect WHO’s recommendations and make rational and science-based response to the current situation instead of overreacting.

According to statistics from American media, the seasonal influenza in the US has infected 19 million people and caused over 10,000 deaths. By contrast, the number of infected cases of the 2019-nCoV outside China accounts for less than 1% of that in China. Starting from February 1, the number of people cured has exceeded that of deaths. As of the end of February 4, altogether 892 patients were cured and discharged, almost twice as many as those died of the virus. The number of newly suspected cases has dropped for a second day in a row.

Panic is more deadly and contagious than any virus. All the responses to the epidemic should be based on science instead of fear. In a globalized era, all countries’ interests and future are intertwined. In the face of a public health crisis, all countries should bond together and tide over difficulties with solidarity so as to safeguard the common interests of all.

Q: China Academy of Information and Communications Technology and IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group recently published a 5G Security Report. Do you have any comment on it?

A: This 5G Security Report released by 5G research institutes in China offers a systemic view of potential security risks in key technologies, typical application scenarios and industrial ecology, proposes security concepts and corresponding protective measures, and envisions strengthening mutual trust and cooperation to promote secure 5G development.

As a new generation of information and communications technology continues to evolve and upgrade, accelerated development of 5G will have multifaceted and profound political, economic, cultural and social impacts all over the world. It will reconstruct the global innovation landscape and reshape the economic structure. Countries are in similar places when it comes to promoting the growth of digital economy and dealing with challenges posed by security risks.

All countries should embrace the concept of open and cooperative cybersecurity, view 5G network risks in an objective manner, and discuss and formulate global standards and rules of 5G security at multilateral platforms where all parties can participate. With mutual respect and trust, the international community should provide an open, equitable, fair and non-discriminatory environment for 5G technologies and grasp the huge opportunity for development in the new round of scientific and technological revolution, so as to achieve mutual benefit and common development.

Q: President Trump has delivered his State of the Union address, in which he said his administration has the best relationship with China and yet accused China of taking advantage of the US for decades, calling the recent trade deal “a win” for the US. Would you agree to what he said?

A: As for questions relating to the phase one trade deal, China has talked about its position many times. Sound and steady development of bilateral relations serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples and meets the aspiration of the international community. We hope that the US will work with us to implement the important consensus reached between the two heads of states, manage differences based on mutual respect, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, and jointly move forward China-US relations featuring coordination, cooperation and stability.

Q: What is your reaction to the British government telling its citizens to leave China if they can?

A: The Chinese government attaches high importance to the life and health of all people, Chinese and foreign nationals in China alike. We have taken the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures against the novel coronavirus, which have far exceeded what WHO and International Health Regulations required. We have every confidence, capability and condition to win this battle. The WHO clearly says that the outbreak does not constitute a pandemic and that the Chinese government has taken strong measures to contain the spread of the virus. It also calls on the international community to reject rumor, believe in science, and step up prevention and treatment. Dr. Tedros has stated repeatedly that he does not recommend pulling out foreign nationals, as the best thing to do is stay put and take proper self-protection. We hope that all countries can assess the epidemic situation in a calm, objective and rational manner, respect authoritative and professional WHO recommendations and don’t overreact.

Q: President Trump said in his State of the Union Address that they’re working closely with China on the coronavirus outbreak. Could you possibly specify any cooperation in this respect?

A: At the moment, the Chinese government and people are sparing no efforts to fight the 2019-nCoV pneumonia outbreak. We have taken decisive and effective measures to rein in its spread, and prevention and control measures are increasingly showing their effects. We are fully confident and capable of winning the hard battle against this epidemic. In an open, transparent and responsible manner, China timely informed WHO, the US and other countries and regions. We shared the genome sequence of the coronavirus at the earliest time possible and invited WHO and experts from Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and Taiwan on field trips to Wuhan. China’s efforts are fully recognized and highly lauded by WHO and the international community.

China and the US are in close communication on the situation through diplomatic and health channels. Infectious disease knows no border and should be handled with concerted efforts. We have come to a crucial stage in terms of epidemic prevention and control. WHO advises against measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade to avoid more panic. We hope the US will adopt an objective, just, calm and rational view, refrain from overreaction, respect and collaborate with China’s efforts, and work together with China and the rest of the international community to fight the epidemic and safeguard global public health security.

Q: Have US companies donated items to support China? And what is China’s view for the work being done by US-based scientists and organizations like the CDC? 

A: China’s National Health Commission has confirmed that the US sends experts to join a China-WHO joint expert group. China is in consultation with WHO on the relevant arrangements for the joint expert group. We hope that the US will respect WHO’s authoritative and professional recommendations, react in an objective, fair, calm and evidence-based manner, rather than excessively. It should respect and coordinate with China's prevention and control measures.

We have learned that some US businesses and institutions have also offered support and assistance. I’ve just heard that a batch of supplies from the US has just arrived in Wuhan on February 4.

Q: What is Hun Sen’s itinerary in China? Will he meet with state leaders? How did you respond to his request to go to Wuhan?

A: Please refer to my answer to AFP.

Q: In recent days most of the newly confirmed cases were found in Wuhan. I believe it shows the Chinese government's ability to control the situation. We also noted yesterday that the Changjiang Daily reported the good news about the latest research results by the team led by Li Lanjuan, academician of China Engineering Academy and member of the high-level expert panel of the National Health Commission. So my question is, how long do the health authorities expect the growth of number to probably last? As we understand, many airlines have temporarily suspended flights to China due to the outbreak. When does China expect this to return to normal?

A: The National Health Commission holds daily press briefings to keep the public updated. I note that there were 65 death cases and 262 cured and discharged yesterday. As of the end of February 4, the total death toll is 490 and altogether 892 have been cured. The number of newly suspected cases dropped for a second day in a row. We hope to see the inflection point at an early date.

WHO stressed that it does not recommend and even opposes imposing restrictions on travel. The International Civil Aviation Organization also strongly urges all countries to heed WHO recommendations. The Civil Aviation Administration of China has taken effective measures to ensure travelers’ safety and health on international flights. We hope the relevant countries will respect WHO’s recommendations instead of overreacting or restricting flights which affect normal international exchanges and cooperation. The legitimate rights and interests of international travelers should be valued and protected, too.

Q: Turkey provided medical help to China in the fight against the epidemic. Turkish and Chinese foreign ministers also had a phone call and shared messages. Any comments on that?

A: On February 1, State Councilor Wang Yi had a phone call with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu commended China’s effective measures against the epidemic and believed that China is absolutely capable of defeating it. He said that Turkey has provided medical supplies to China and stands ready to offer more support in accordance with China’s need. China thanked Turkey’s timely assistance which showcased the friendship between Turkish and Chinese people.

Q: A Hong Kong passenger who boarded the luxury cruise ship Diamond Princess has been confirmed with novel coronavirus infection. The ship is under quarantine off the Japanese port of Yokohama. Ten passengers, including Chinese nationals, reportedly have contracted the novel coronavirus. Can you give us more details?

A: I also just saw the reports and don’t have the specifics. I will check with relevant departments afterwards.

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