Xinhua Headlines: Helping hands bring Iran, China closer amid COVID-19 battle

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by Xinhua writers Meng Yifei, Chen Lin, Wang Pan

BEIJING, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Since March 5, Chinese businessman Chen Cangsong and his Iranian friend Hassan Tavana have been working around the clock, busy with gathering donations from all over the world and then sending them to Iran, where the COVID-19 epidemic is raging.

Both Chen and Hassan serve on the Business Council of the United Nations Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance based in Quanzhou, in the southeastern Chinese Province of Fujian, where they have sent a rush shipment of supplies, including over 80,000 medical masks and 3,000 goggles, to Iran.

Chen is busy dealing with the influx of messages from donors in member companies scattered in 16 countries. "We have our phones work day and night to make sure no donation is missed as sometimes messages come around midnight or before dawn," Chen said.

Like Chen and Hassan, there are a large number of Chinese and Iranians extending their helping hands as brothers and sisters to fight against COVID-19 in Iran.


Recently, the official account of the Iranian Embassy in China on the Chinese social media platform Weibo has seen thousands of Chinese netizens post their best wishes for Iranians and the country's success in the fight against the epidemic.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Within 24 hours after the Iranian Embassy set up a donation channel on Weibo, about 567,000 U.S. dollars' worth of donations had poured in.

"It is beyond our expectations, it surprised and impressed me," Ramazan Parvaz, consul general of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Shanghai, said Wednesday.

Besides funds, medical supplies like face masks, goggles, protective garments and ventilators have been donated by Chinese people from various walks of life.

In Beijing, Liu Zhengchen and his colleagues at the Beijing New Sunshine Charity Foundation have dispatched five shipments of medical supplies to Iran, including testing kits, protective garments, ventilators and pulse oximeters.

"In our hardest time fighting against COVID-19, Iran donated three million medical masks to us. Now that our situation is getting better, it's time for us to help them," said Liu.

On March 11, Guangdong Wanyang Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. (GWP) delivered 11,000 masks and 400 pairs of medical rubber gloves it had collected from its business circles to the Iranian Consulate General in Guangzhou.

On March 17, 50,000 masks from Shanghai-based travel agency 54Traveler arrived in Tehran on Tuesday and were waiting to be distributed.

On March 18, the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries sent a batch of surgical masks as a donation to the Iranian Consulate General in Shanghai.

"While the epidemic in China is easing, the situation abroad is worsening. We can feel the pain brought by the epidemic to people of other nations so we want to do more to help," GWP chairman Liao Yibing told Xinhua.

On his Twitter account, Ambassador of Iran to China Mohammad Keshavarz Zadeh expressed his gratitude over the Chinese aid, saying that all the donations would be airlifted to Iran as soon as possible.


"The sons of Adam are limbs of each other, having been created of one essence. When the calamity of time affects one limb, the other limbs cannot remain at rest." These words by the Persian poet Sa'adi were cited by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif when he expressed his solidarity with China as the Asian country was fighting an arduous battle against COVID-19.

Ten days after Iran reported its first confirmed case on Feb. 19, a medical team sent by the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) arrived in Tehran. At that time, China was in the thick of battle against COVID-19.

Upon their arrival in the early morning, the experts immediately engaged in exchanging experience on combating COVID-19 with their Iranian counterparts, and promoting bilateral cooperation on medicine and health.

Zhou Xiaohang, head of the team and also head of the Disaster Relief and Health Department of the Shanghai Branch of RCSC, told Xinhua whenever they went to the Health Ministry of Iran to check and count the donations from China, local staff would approach them and say: "China, thank you!"

"The Chinese delivered to Iran what we need urgently. They are real friends of Iran," Abalfazl Delkhasteh, a student at Shahid Beheshti University in Iran, told Xinhua.

Masih Daneshvari Hospital is one of Tehran's designated hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, where a nurse in the respiratory department who only gave her name as Somayeh told Xinhua that the hospital has developed plans for clinical treatment based on China's experience and recommendations.

"China is one of the first nations to support Iran in this fight. Chinese donations and expertise exchange with affected countries, including Iran, stands out not only as a humanitarian gesture, but also as responsible behavior on the part of a global power," said Hassan Ahmadian, assistant professor of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Studies at the University of Tehran.

"The Chinese have provided Iran with all of their experiences in dealing with the virus. This generously provided information has helped Iran," said Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran.

Besides medical supplies and experts from China, other materials which have proven useful during China's COVID-19 fight are also being used and widely circulated in Iran, including Chinese traditional medicated soaps and an electronic guide on COVID-19 prevention and control compiled by Chinese expert Zhang Wenhong.

An online Chinese-Persian group of volunteer translators initiated by a Chinese university student has attracted over 200 volunteers from both China and Iran, who are working to share anti-COVID-19 knowledge with embattled Iranians.

In different cities of China, common people like Liu Zhengchen, Liao Yibin and Chen Cangsong are still busy with handing over donations to foreign countries, including Iran.

"The virus does not know borders. In the era of global integration, helping others is also helping ourselves," Liao said.

Touched by the Chinese people's kindness for Iran, Iranian student Abalfazl said, "I believe that by going through this epidemic together, the relations of our countries will become closer and stronger." Enditem

(Xinhua reporters Xu Xiaoqin, Yang Kai and He Xiyue in Shanghai, Lv Guangyi in Guangzhou, and Wang Jian and Li Rui in Cairo also contributed to the story.)

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