After the storm comes sunshine
At present, China's prevention and control of the novel coronavirus has achieved important initial results, but outside China, the pandemic continues to spread, and Spain has become one of the worst affected countries.
We will never forget that during the most difficult period of China's fight against the epidemic, the Spanish government and people offered firm support and sincere wishes to the Chinese in their battle to contain the virus. Now it is incumbent upon us to lend a helping hand at a time when Spain is facing severe epidemic challenges.
We are doing everything we can to provide urgently needed medical supplies to Spain. On March 19, President Xi Jinping sent a message to King Felipe VI expressing his sincere condolences to the Spanish government and people on behalf of the Chinese government and people. During a telephone conversation with the President of the Government Pedro Sanchez on March 17, President Xi stressed that China is ready to offer support and assistance to Spain. The two countries' foreign ministers also exchanged in-depth views on strengthening cooperation. Emergency aid from the Chinese government arrived in Spain on March 22. Chinese enterprises and private institutions, including the Jack Ma Foundation, Alibaba Foundation, Huawei, Xiaomi and China Construction Bank, took active actions to provide assistance. A large number of medical supplies, such as masks and protective clothing, have arrived in Spain or are about to do so. Overseas Chinese in Spain voluntarily donated disinfectant, masks and other materials to local police and hospitals, which was highly praised by all walks of life in Spain.
Chinese health experts have held multiple and bilateral videoconferences with Spain twice to introduce China's experience and practices in terms of the epidemiological characteristics, prevention and control strategies, clinical diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, and answered the questions raised. We promptly sent the latest version of China's treatment plan and experience sharing video to the Spanish health authorities to provide reference for their work. Through the local media and the embassy's external publicity platform, we have continuously introduced the latest progress of China's fight against the epidemic and the main prevention and control measures employed by China, highlighted the positive role of the "mobile cabin" hospital, and introduced the main points of personal protection in a simple and understandable way through pictures and videos. We have also offered medical teams to Spain to support Spain's fight against the pandemic.
We have resolutely fought back against attempts to stigmatize China under the pretext of the pandemic. As the disease has spread rapidly, fears have risen in Spain, where people are eager to learn more about the virus. Some people with ulterior motives have tried to fish in troubled waters and take advantage of the pandemic by deliberately associating the virus with China and constantly stigmatizing China. China is firmly opposed to this. We have repeatedly stressed to the Spanish media that the origin of the virus is a scientific issue, which requires a scientific conclusion. However, no conclusion has been reached yet. The embassy has also confronted a Spanish parliamentarian on social media, pointing out that "freedom of expression has limits" and urging him to correct the mistake of calling the virus a "Chinese virus". The embassy's response won overwhelming support from Spanish internet users, with nearly 40,000 likes, forcing the parliamentarian to rebut his comments.
At the same time, we adhere to the principle of "diplomacy for the people" and spare no effort to safeguard the safety and interests of overseas Chinese, students and enterprises in Spain. The embassy is always concerned about the situation and difficulties of more than 200,000 overseas Chinese and students in Spain. Since March, the WeChat official account and the official website of the embassy have released more than 60 messages to remind people to be vigilant against the pandemic situation, make good personal protection and recommend remote medical advice. The embassy has also set up a hotline for consular protection, patiently responding to thousands of calls and letters every day, calming the nervousness of Chinese nationals in Spain, guiding the medical treatment process and following up the treatment situation. We set up a special WeChat group for the diagnosis of overseas Chinese and invited eight doctors to answer their questions. We held two video conferences with students in Spain and the director of the Confucius Institute to fully mobilize resources and send masks and other materials to students in special difficulties.
In the face of the pandemic's effects on the economic and trade exchanges between China and Spain, the Chinese embassy has urged the Chinese companies to cooperate with the prevention and control measures of the Spanish government, and helped enterprises to promote coordination with local authorities. The "Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe" cargo train, a key project between China and Spain under the Belt and Road Initiative, has carried medical supplies to Spain. COSCO Shipping Corporation has maintained a normal schedule. Ali Express has expanded its inventory based on local resources. China has also pledged to step up exchanges and cooperation with Spain in a wide range of areas and to continue to expand imports of high-quality products from Spain after the pandemic comes to an end.
The virus knows no borders. In the face of the sudden pandemic, no country can be immune from it. Only by further strengthening cooperation and safeguarding the common interests of mankind can the fight be won. As the message we left on the aid to Spain goes, "after the storm comes the sunshine". China is ready to join hands with Spain to combat the novel coronavirus. We firmly believe that through the test of jointly combating the epidemic, the friendship between China and Spain will become stronger and bilateral relations will embrace an even brighter future.
The author is charge d'affaires of the Chinese embassy in Spain. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.