|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 20, 2020|
According to the latest figures from the NHC, March 19 saw 730 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland, bringing the tally to 71,150.
China and Latin American and Caribbean countries will hold a video conference on COVID-19 next Tuesday, March 24. Officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry and National Health Commission and experts in the areas of disease control, clinical treatment, civil aviation, customs and community-based quarantine will share information and experience with their counterparts from Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Since the outbreak, in an open, transparent and responsible way, China has been sharing information and latest developments with the WHO and the international community, and cooperating with other countries and regions. The governments and people of Latin American and Caribbean countries have expressed their support and offered us assistance. We thank them for that.
The pandemic is now spreading across the world. It is essential for all countries to strengthen communication and coordination and step up international cooperation in prevention and control. We pay great attention to the challenges facing Latin American and Caribbean countries. Upholding the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, we will continue helping countries in that region to the best of our capability. China will continue working with other countries to address the challenges and defend regional and global public health security.
Q: As we saw from a press photo of US President Trump speech notes, which were prepared for his press conference on March 18, the printed "corona" in the word "coronavirus" was crossed out and replaced by handwritten "Chinese". He said at the press conference that it was a war against the "Chinese virus", which he claimed is not racist at all. According to him, the virus comes from China. "The Chinese side could have informed us earlier, and it would have been great if we had known earlier". Some other US officials also said that China lacks openness and transparency in sharing information about the outbreak, causing the delay in the US prevention and control response to the epidemic.
A: Recently, some in the US have been deliberately linking the novel coronavirus to China and stigmatizing China non-stop. We are strongly indignant and opposed to it. Their claims of China lacking openness and transparency are simply fact-distorting.
Here, I would like to emphasize the following points:
First, the origin of the novel coronavirus is a scientific matter that requires professional and scientific assessment. The World Health Organization and the international community have reached clear consensus to reject stigmatization by linking the virus to specific countries or regions.
Second, after the outbreak, China has timely adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures, and we have basically brought the outbreak under control within a short period of time. The Chinese people have made great sacrifices and contributions to global public health security as well as the health and safety of mankind. China's open, transparent and responsible attitude and active participation in international cooperation have been universally acclaimed by the international community.
Third, China has kept the US informed of the situation since the epidemic broke out. The two sides have maintained close communication. I want to take a few moments to elaborate, and I hope the US will lend an ear to this.
Since January 3, China has been notifying the US side of epidemic developments, prevention and control measures on a regular basis.
On January 4, heads of Chinese and American centers for disease control and prevention spoke on the phone. The two sides agreed to keep close communication on information sharing and technical cooperation.
On January 25, President Trump tweeted that China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The US greatly appreciates China's efforts and transparency.
On January 27, principal health officials in China and the United States spoke on the phone. The US side expressed appreciation over the Chinese government's transparency in response to the outbreak and the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the health sector.
On January 29, China's National Health Commission talked to the US side through official channel that the US was welcome to join the China-WHO Joint Mission on COVID-19. The US side expressed thanks on the same day.
On February 7, Chinese and US presidents had a phone conversation. President Trump made positive comments on China's response to the outbreak and tweeted on the same day that great discipline was taking place in China and it will be a very successful operation. The US was working closely with China.
On February 8, principal officials of Chinese and American health authorities had another discussion over arrangements regarding the participation of US experts in the China-WHO Joint Mission.
On February 11, principal officials of Chinese and American centers for disease control and prevention discussed technical issues in epidemiology as well as prevention and control strategies.
From February 16 to 24, the China-WHO Joint Mission with two American experts on board conducted their nine-day field trip in China and highly appraised China's prevention and control measures. They specifically pointed out that China has played a vital role in protecting the international community, as China's measures have bought valuable time and provided valuable experience for all.
On March 12, the US embassy in China was invited to attend a briefing on China's experience in COVID-19 prevention and treatment, which was jointly held by the NHC and WHO.
On March 13, President Trump told reporters that the data China shared are helpful for the US efforts against the epidemic.
Judging from the above facts, it is perfectly clear that over the past two months or so, the Chinese side has timely provided information to and carried out technological cooperation with the US side. The Chinese people have been united in one mission to fight the COVID-19. Our efforts have bought precious time for the whole world. Unfortunately, however, even many American media and experts believe that time has been regrettably wasted and squandered away by the US side.
Finally, I would like to stress that some people on the US side are trying to stigmatize China's efforts in an attempt to shirk responsibility. They have ignored the huge sacrifices the Chinese people made in safeguarding the health and safety of all mankind, and vilified China's significant contributions to global public health security. Their moves run counter to the WHO's professional advice and the expectations and efforts of the international community to fight the pandemic together. We hope the US side will respect facts and the international consensus, and keep its own house in order rather than slander others and shift responsibility. It needs to play a constructive role in enhancing international cooperation and safeguarding international public health security.
Q: You said the day before yesterday that China has provided material assistance to dozens of countries. To be more precise, can you tell us exactly how many countries and what kind of assistance?
A: I said yesterday that we will never forget the political support and material donations from the international community at the height of the epidemic in China. Now we are also reaching out to the affected countries to help them in four areas. First, intergovernmental assistance. The Chinese government has announced assistance to 82 countries, the WHO and the AU. The assistance includes testing reagents, masks and protective gowns. Many batches of these supplies have been delivered to the recipients. Second, medical technological cooperation. We have shared our treatment experience with the rest of the world, held video conferences with health experts from many countries and international organizations, and sent medical teams to Iran, Iraq and Italy. Third, sub-national assistance. Local governments in China have donated supplies to cities in the ROK, Japan and Italy. Fourth, non-governmental assistance. Chinese enterprises and civil organizations are also making donations to countries affected.
I'd like to give you a few examples.
The first example is the ROK. The ROK is among the first group of countries that donated large amounts of supplies to China. I remember a slogan on the wall of the ROK Embassy in China that reads "China's problems are our problems". After the situation got severe in the ROK, the Chinese government provided medical supplies such as masks and protective suits to it. More than 20 local governments in China donated masks, protective suits, goggles, testing reagents, thermometers and other supplies to their sister cities including Seoul, Daegu and North Gyeongsang.
The second example is Pakistan. A Pakistani special plane arrived in China on February 1, bringing medical supplies when they are most needed in China. After COVID-19 cases were found in Pakistan, the Chinese government immediately responded and provided testing kits, masks, protective gowns and other materials. We also help Pakistan in building isolation hospital. Chinese provinces and cities also donated masks to Islamabad and Karachi.
The third example is Italy. Italy has provided political and material support to China's fight against COVID-19. After the serious outbreak in Italy, the Chinese government and a number of local governments donated medical supplies to Italy. We sent two groups of medical specialists and are about to send the third. I just learned that China's Silk Road Fund has decided to donate 20,000 N95 respirators and 20,000 testing kits to Italy's Civil Protection Agency and the government of the Lombardy region. The first batch has arrived in Italy.
Many of China's donations have messages written on the package. Some are ancient Chinese sayings like "our partnership, stronger than metal and stone, defies geographical distance". Some are Korean poetry lines like "we aspire to the same ideal, we are all citizens of the world". Some are quotes of Italian philosophers like "we are waves of the same sea, leaves on the same tree, flowers in the same garden". These messages demonstrate the Chinese people's aspiration to cooperate with other countries and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Q: We saw that the foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK held a special video conference this morning, which is the first foreign ministers' meeting on COVID-19 among the three countries. Can you give us more details of the meeting? How do you see its results?
A: A special video conference on COVID-19 was held this morning among the foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK. The three foreign ministers had in-depth exchange of views and reached important consensus on making joint efforts to fight COVID-19 and deepening practical cooperation. This meeting demonstrates our resolve and readiness to collectively respond to global major challenges and maintain normal exchange and cooperation. The consensus reached can be concluded in the following aspects.
First, joint epidemic prevention and control. The three countries agree to explore enhancing joint prevention and control efforts to stop the virus from spreading across the border. To this end, we will explore making concerted guidelines for travelers.
Second, policy coordination. The three countries agree to enhance policy communication and coordination to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on economic and trade cooperation and people-to-people exchange, and to stabilize our industrial and supply chains.
Third, communication and cooperation. China, Japan and the ROK support greater communication between health, science and commerce authorities to timely notify each other of epidemic developments, cooperate in medicine and vaccine R&D and coordinate the import and export of medical supplies. The three countries agree to hold a trilateral health ministers' meeting as soon as possible to share information and safeguard regional public health security.
Besides, the three countries also agree to step up cooperation with the international community and contribute to the global fight against the pandemic.
As close neighbors, in the face of the pandemic, China, Japan and the ROK are a community with a shared future. Since the outbreak, we have been supporting and helping each other, and there have been many heartwarming moments of mutual assistance. I believe our collective efforts in fighting the pandemic will be a major impetus for growing traditional friendship and deepening practical cooperation. China will work with Japan and the ROK to keep close communication, share our experience and coordinate our measures. Together we will achieve the final victory against the disease and contribute to regional and global public health security.
By the way, today is the spring equinox of this year, which is a special day on the traditional calendar of all the three countries - China, Japan and the ROK. I believe the spring is already in the air, and the shadows of the pandemic will eventually be driven away by the warm sun and spring breeze.
Q: Recently the US repeatedly said that the five Chinese media outlets they targeted are propaganda institutions of the CPC under the control of the Chinese government and not truly independent media, while those US media agencies China has taken countermeasures against are true media. Accordingly, they believe there's no reciprocity at all. What's your comment?
A: Such statement by the US side laid bare their deep-seated ideological prejudice.
Beginning from the very first day when China and the US established diplomatic ties, the US knows clearly that China is a socialist country led by the CPC. From the very first day when Chinese media set branch offices in the US, the US is well aware of the nature of the Chinese media. Over four decades have passed, and the leadership of the CPC remains the defining nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the nature of Chinese media remains unchanged.
So why has the US been recently talking about the CPC in every utterance and trying to pit the CPC against the Chinese people? Why are they making an issue out of the nature of Chinese media and taking this as a pretext to oppress Chinese media agencies and seek massive expulsion of Chinese journalists in all but name?
Each country has its unique national conditions, thus different ways for the management and operation of media. What makes the US think it can judge other countries' media based on the benchmark of its own ideology? What makes the US think it can arbitrarily pin labels on Chinese media to stigmatize and oppress them?
China has no intention to change the American political system, and we hope the US will also respect our political system. If the US believes in the superiority of its system and the triumph of western democracy and freedom as it claims, why is it so afraid of the CPC and Chinese media?
We hope the US will reflect upon its behaviors, eliminate its political virus of ideological bias, and stop vilifying the CPC and Chinese media.
Q: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on March 18 that instead of containing the virus, the Chinese government suppressed information and expelled American journalists. Some US officials also said on many occasions that China's response to the outbreak is not open or transparent, and that China expelled the American journalists to prevent the outside world from obtaining true information about the outbreak. What is your comment?
A: I answered many similar questions in recent days.
I would like to reiterate that the measures taken by the Chinese side against the US media are all in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the US. They are legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense. The claim that China's countermeasures are an attempt to obstruct access to information on the epidemic is sheer nonsense with ulterior motives.
If such claims were true, was the US expulsion of 60 Chinese journalists an attempt to block access to information on the epidemic in the US? Did the US anticipate that the epidemic would spread at home in a month and fear that the Chinese media would expose the situation? What is the hidden agenda behind the US expulsion of Chinese journalists? Are they trying to hide anything?
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we've all borne witness to whether the US is effective and transparent in responding and disclosing information. Many American people, media agencies and people in other countries criticized the slow response and confused information from the US side.
Will the US invite WHO to visit the country just as China did, if its response is as open and transparent as it claims? Will it respond to the questioning of the international community?
I would like to stress that since the outbreak, China has adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures in an open, transparent and responsible manner. Such measures have yielded notable results, bought precious time for the world and made important contributions to the global fight against the epidemic. Our efforts have been fully recognized by the international community.
If I recall correctly, the US leader praised China's efforts on multiple occasions. On January 25, President Trump tweeted that China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus, and that the US greatly appreciates China' efforts and transparency. On March 13, He said to reporters that the data China shared are helpful for the US efforts against the epidemic. Our memories of those words are still vivid. I wonder why the US suddenly changed its tone and turned against us?
Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the US attempt of blame-shifting will not help it to contain the disease at home or unite the international community in fighting the pandemic together.
Q: A Brazilian lawmaker accused China on Tuesday of concealing information about the spread of the coronavirus. What's your comment?
A: Since the COVID-19 broke out, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures of prevention and control to fight an all-out war against the epidemic. China has been providing timely updates to the WHO and other countries and regions, sharing the genetic sequence of the virus, conducting medical cooperation and sharing experience in diagnosis and treatment with countries including Brazil. The world has already reached a clear, fair consensus that China's contribution bought precious time for the international community to enhance preparedness. It is immoral and irresponsible to smear the efforts of the Chinese government and people. The slanders will not be helpful to international cooperation, either.
We oppose all attempts to stigmatize and smear our country.
Q: According to UNSC resolutions, UN members needed to repatriate DPRK laborers by December 22 last year and file reports to the Security Council on the repatriation results by March 22 this year. Has China sent back all DPRK laborers in China? And has China filed the report?
A: As always, China strictly and fully implements DPRK-related Security Council resolutions as well as our due international obligations.
Q: Certain western scholar said that products bought from China carry the novel coronavirus. There are also allegations that products made in China carry the coronavirus thus should be rejected. What's your comment?
A: Since the outbreak, we have seen some people acting in an irresponsible manner, spreading rumors and creating panic. I wonder what these people are up to by making such absurd, ignorant and sensational comments? Is it grandstanding or deception?
China is a leading manufacturer as well as a major producer and exporter of medical supplies for epidemic response. As the pandemic is spreading around the world, many countries are facing a shortage of medical supplies such as masks, protective suits and ventilators. They hope to get assistance or purchase items from China. While combating the epidemic at home, China has provided and will continue to provide assistance to countries in need to facilitate their commercial procurement in China. Our responsible practice has been universally praised by the international community.
For those who label products made in China as "contaminated with virus", they'd better not use made-in-China masks, protective suits and ventilators.
In this global fight against the coronavirus, everyone needs to respect facts, respect science, respect others and, above all, respect oneself. Because where science cannot arrive for the time being, humanity will.
Q: You said the other day that US and Chinese businesses, civil societies and localities have lent support to each other in the fight against COVID-19. Officials from US Department of State mentioned again in a recent briefing that the US pledged to spend up to $100 million to assist China and other countries affected by coronavirus, which has been repeatedly talked about by US officials on several occasions. So has China received any assistance from the US government? If yes, could you give us more details?
A: Like I said here the day before yesterday, since the outbreak, US businesses, organizations and people have donated funds and assistance to support China. As the situation in the US is getting severe, Chinese localities and organizations have extended a helping hand to the US, too.
US officials said on many occasions that they are going to offer $100 million to assist China and other countries impacted by the coronavirus. I'm not sure whether others have received it, but I can clearly tell you that so far, China has not received any funds or supplies donated in the name of the US government.
The US Agency for International Development once said it would provide masks, protective suits and other medical supplies to China, but it only notified us on March 11 that those supplies were ready. Considering the progress in China's epidemic response and the fast spreading of the pandemic around the world, China has given an official reply to the US side, expressing thanks and asking it to deliver these supplies to countries in more urgent need.