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

Beijing Youth Daily:

Mr. Ma explained that we have brought back more than 1,300 Chinese citizens who were stranded overseas. There are also many Chinese who are currently in countries where the epidemic has broken out, either working, travelling or visiting relatives. What measures has the Chinese government adopted to protect their safety and health since the outbreak? Thank you.

Ma Zhaoxu:

Since the outbreak occurred, we have made all-out efforts to fight the epidemic. At the same time, we have never forgotten overseas Chinese. We have paid great attention to the difficulties and problems overseas Chinese citizens face due to the epidemic. Since the outbreak, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, civil aviation, commerce, customs, immigration, education, health and other departments have cooperated closely to help overseas Chinese. Moreover, we have guided all overseas embassies and consulates to conscientiously implement the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and take swift action to fully safeguard the safety, health and rights of overseas Chinese citizens.

As I mentioned in my opening speech, we have assisted stranded residents of Hubei province return home, and helped the governments of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs)bring back residents on the Diamond Princess cruise ship from Japan. A more important task is to help overseas Chinese strengthen self-protection. This is very important. Our embassies and consulates overseas have actively maintained close contact with local Chinese-funded institutions, overseas Chinese communities and overseas Chinese students. During this period, our embassies and consulates have given top priority to assisting the epidemic prevention and control amongst Chinese citizens overseas. We have adopted various measures to assist our citizens, including using websites, WeChat and local media to explain the situation, release alerts, organize lectures, compile handbooks, and guide our citizens to better protect themselves. This is the first thing we did.

Second, our embassies and consulates are closely following the situation of Chinese citizens abroad who have been either diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19, and have provided all necessary assistance to ensure they receive effective treatment from local health departments and medical institutions in a timely manner. As you may know, some Chinese citizens diagnosed with the virus overseas have been discharged after local treatment. During the process, our embassies and consulates have monitored and assisted throughout. For example, many of the passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship were infected with COVID-19. After some people were quarantined, the Chinese Embassy in Japan immediately went to the hospital to visit Chinese patients and brought urgently needed medicine for the elderly. Doctors of the hospital said that they treated patients from many countries from the cruise ship, but the Chinese embassy was the first to visit its patients and citizens.

The Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services (12308) has been available 24 hours for overseas Chinese citizens in trouble or soliciting for help. The hotline, receiving calls around an average of 1,100 each day, has enabled timely consultation services for those in need. When a number of discriminative cases have happened to our Chinese citizens in certain countries, our consulates have negotiated, stopped and denounced them promptly. To uphold the rights and interests of the many overseas Chinese students, Chinese consulates, under the guidance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, have kept in touch with local educational institutes to address difficulties that Chinese students have had when starting the new academic semester. In addition, appropriate arrangements have been implemented for those who have failed to return to schools abroad. The assistance to Chinese citizens overseas is comprehensive and holistic. We will continue to closely monitor the development of overseas epidemics and the difficulties encountered by Chinese citizens, and provide timely assistance to put the care of the Party and government into practice.

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