SCIO briefing on the health and security of Chinese students overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak

The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on April 2 to brief the media on the health and security of Chinese students living overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak. April 6, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Ma. Now, I will give the floor to Mr. Tian. 

Tian Xuejun:

Good morning, everyone. People are concerned about the safety of overseas students while the epidemic is still spreading outside the country. Overseas students are treasured assets to the Party and the people. Their health and safety is always a concern of the Party and state. Strengthening the love and care for overseas students is a major part of the epidemic prevention and control work targeting Chinese nationals living overseas. 

The Ministry of Education has been earnestly implementing General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions and CPC Central Committee's decisions and arrangements. It has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies and consulates stationed abroad to push forward with various works. The Ministry of Education has demanded higher education facilities across the country to fulfill their job responsibilities and make efforts domestically and abroad at the same time. We have taken practical actions to demonstrate the Party and state's love and care towards overseas students in all areas, from offering anti-epidemic reminders and consultation, distributing anti-epidemic supplies, and assisting in accessing healthcare services, to helping handle issues regarding academic work and living, encouraging educational circles to help each other, encouraging overseas Chinese circles to make contributions and show kindness, and strengthening consular protection to safeguard the legitimate interests of overseas students. Our only goal is to do our best to safeguard the health and safety of overseas students.

Specifically, the measures taken by the Ministry of Education can be summarized as six "strengthenings": strengthening guidance for anti-epidemic works, strengthening the guarantee of material supplies, strengthening treatment of patients, strengthening psychological support, strengthening help and support for people in need, and strengthening consular protection. 

To strengthen the guidance for anti-epidemic works, the Ministry of Education organized specialists to compile a guide on the prevention of the novel coronavirus for overseas students. Professor Zhang Wenhong and other known experts in China were invited to give lectures to overseas students, and they have proven popular. 

To strengthen the guarantee of material supplies, embassies and consulates stationed overseas have collected anti-epidemic materials, including masks, from multiple resources, rushing to produce health packages and love packages overnight out of these materials and then distributing them to overseas students in no time. This work is still ongoing. 

To strengthen the treatment of patients, the Ministry of Education and embassies and consulates stationed overseas have established a system to carry out COVID-19 tests for overseas students and created daily reports. Once a confirmed case or a suspected case is discovered, the emergency response mechanism will be activated immediately. Judging from the data we have obtained, the number and proportion of confirmed cases are relatively small among overseas students in general. 

To strengthen psychological support, we have consolidated the resources of higher education facilities in the country to offer counseling services for overseas students around the clock. We have also set up consulting hotlines to clear doubts and offer help to overseas students and their parents at home. 

To strengthen help and support for those in need, embassies and consulates stationed overseas and the Ministry of Education have gathered overseas students together via the All-China Students' Federation and WeChat groups. Some embassies and consulates have widely mobilized Chinese-funded organizations and overseas Chinese associations in local areas to offer help to overseas students in need. A small portion of overseas students has encountered practical problems, such as visa expiration and being forced to move out of the dormitory. Our diplomats have resolved these situations in a timely manner. 

To strengthen consular protection, we have demanded embassies and consulates stationed overseas to pay close attention to incidents of overseas students being discriminated against or being assaulted and to make strong representations accordingly in a timely manner. The WeChat account “教育部平安留学” (Ministry of Education, Study Abroad Safely) has been continuously compiling and publishing safety notifications for typical cases of overseas Chinese students being under threat and offering targeted safety advice.

Next, we will enhance analysis and assessment of the epidemic, continue to improve and refine our plans, and go all out to do a better job of conducting epidemic prevention and control work among overseas students by working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies and consulates stationed overseas. Thank you.

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