SCIO briefing on international cooperation in response to COVID-19

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on March 5 in Beijing to brief the media about international cooperation in response to COVID-19. March 6, 2020

China Daily:

Many foreigners are currently living in China, especially in Hubei province. You just mentioned that the Chinese government takes seriously the safety, health and living conditions of foreign nationals living in China. Can you be specific about the measures taken in this regard? Thank you.

Ma Zhaoxu:

I mentioned that the Chinese government pays much attention to the safety and health of Chinese citizens as well as those of foreign nationals. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Foreign Ministry, other relevant agencies and local governments have been providing foreign nationals with all sorts of help. When they mentioned difficulties in accessing medical care and in their living situation, we offered support and addressed the problems raised. Another important work was to provide information and consultation services regarding the epidemic, because the foreigners, unlike the Japanese journalist, might not understand Chinese, and it is important to get clear information. We instructed local agencies to provide multi-lingual platforms for information release to offer targeted services to foreigners so they can rest assured, receiving latest updates on the epidemic in no time. Local foreign affairs offices set up hotlines so foreigners can phone in for help with all problems and difficulties they had encountered. We also established contact with foreign embassies in China to help their citizens address any problems they might encounter. Through these efforts, we effectively provided foreign nationals with help and support. As we see, most foreigners are living and working in China, undisturbed, as the result of our efforts.

Other efforts were also helping with the situation. For example, many local governments included foreign nationals into their integrated system for epidemic prevention and control and into the working mechanisms of subdistrict offices and residents' committees of various communities, not treating them as outsiders, but equals of Chinese citizens, and ensuring that their reasonable requirements were met. The Hubei provincial government specially enhanced the anti-epidemic treatment for foreign patients according to the hierarchical medical system, and did a fine job in offering treatment and guidance to foreign patients, with strengthened efforts in grid-based epidemic prevention and control. Foreign nationals living in China have shown their great appreciation for the care and attention they have received from the Chinese government and the Chinese people. Foreign students from Yemen, Pakistan and Cambodia studying in Hubei took to the media, saying "It's safe here, I'm not nervous at all," or "We, the foreign students, have been receiving care and attention from the Chinese government. China, I love you." A Yemeni student from Nanchang University in Jiangxi province, named A Wen, shared his feelings via WeChat Moments, saying "I am a foreigner, but absolutely not an outsider." Sudanese student Da Shan from Anhui University said "I and other foreign students didn't panic, instead, we have felt more warmth since the outbreak of the epidemic." We will continue to look after foreign nationals the same way we do Chinese citizens. You might have seen the news that two foreign doctors, husband and wife, from Pakistan and Mauritius respectively, volunteered to conduct anti-epidemic screening work at checkpoints in Wenzhou city, Zhejiang province. Foreign nationals received care and attention from the Chinese government and proactively participated in the prevention and control of the epidemic, making their own contribution to containing the spread of the epidemic in China and across the world. 

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