By Mr Chen Hai, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar
Recently, the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China has drawn close attention from the public in Myanmar. I have just returned to Yangon from Beijing. During my trip to China, I personally witnessed how the Chinese society, from the top leaders to the general public, are united in a battle of prevention and control against the epidemic.
Since the epidemic began, the Chinese government has always put people’s safety and health above all else in its work, and taken comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures to prevent and control the epidemic. At present, there have been positive developments in the situation with positive results having been achieved in containing the epidemic. In terms of severity of the epidemic, the mortality rate of the confirmed cases in the Chinese mainland is about 2.1%, which is far lower than that of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in the United States (17.4%), the Ebola outbreak (40.4%) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak (34.4%). In terms of geographical distribution, the number of new cases in the regions other than Hubei Province has continuously dropped since February 3. In terms of treatment effect, recovery rate has been far higher than mortality rate. I’m confident that China will be able to win this battle at an early date.
The epidemic broke out all of a sudden, posing a severe challenge for us all. I would like to share with you some perspectives based on what I saw and heard over the past weeks.
First, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have attached great importance to the people’s lives and health. General Secretary Xi Jinping has personally steered the work in the battle against the epidemic. On January 25, the very first day of the Lunar New Year, General Secretary Xi presided over a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and emphasized that the government should take epidemic prevention and control as the most important task at present. After that, he presided over several more such meetings to study the situation and make plans for next steps. He also inspected local communities’ efforts to prevent and control the epidemic in Beijing. The CPC Central Committee established the Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee for Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control with Premier Li Keqiang as the group leader, and sent a task force to Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, to lead the battle at the forefront. The strong leadership and scientific planning of the CPC Central Committee provided effective support for epidemic prevention and control, boosting the confidence of the entire nation.
Second, China has fully leveraged the strengths of its system for nationwide support. To block the source of infection, the Chinese government took the most comprehensive and stringent measures, including the unprecedented quarantine of Wuhan, a provincial capital city with a population of more than 10 million. More than 20,000 medical workers have been mobilized to provide emergency support for Hubei Province. Nineteen provinces and municipalities have sent medical teams to the pair-up cities in Hubei Province severely affected by the epidemic. In Wuhan, two emergency hospitals dedicated to the disease (Huoshenshan and Leishenshan) were completed at lightning speed. Besides, unprecedented high efficiency has been demonstrated in materials supply, scientific research, medical assistance and other aspects. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “The speed, scale and efficiency of China’s rapid response are rarely seen in the world.” The epidemic is a big test for China’s governance system and capabilities. I’m sure that we will sum up the experience and make continuous progress in emergency management, public health and other areas.
Third, the general positive trend of the Chinese economy will not change in the long run. In the short term, the epidemic is having an impact on transportation, tourism, catering and entertainment industries, but the impact is partial, temporary and limited. New forms of digital economy, such as artificial intelligence, online education and medical services, are gradually shaping new economic growth points. At present, the restoration of economic and social order has begun in areas not severely affected in China. To minimize the impact of the epidemic on the economy, the government has taken a series of measures to secure jobs and resume production in an orderly manner, such as cutting taxes and lowering fees and increasing credit support for enterprises facing difficulties in production and operations. In the medium to long term, with the progress of epidemic prevention and control, the Chinese economy will continue to maintain a strong momentum and promote world economic growth, which I believe will be good news for the rest of the world, including Myanmar.
Fourth, epidemics know no national boundaries in a community with a shared future for mankind. The COVID-19 outbreak posed a challenge for humanity. China’s strong response was not only for Chinese people, but eventually for the good of the whole world. China has been committed to openness and transparency by sharing the genetic sequence of the virus in a timely manner. Confirmed cases worldwide excluding China account for less than 1 percent of the confirmed cases in China, showing that China has effectively prevented the spread of the epidemic beyond its borders. In the meantime, many countries and international organizations have provided great encouragement and support for China. In this community with a shared future for humanity where our interests are closely intertwined, joint efforts to effectively curb the spread of the epidemic are in the common interest of all. We must work together, treat one another with sincerity and reject narrow prejudices and discrimination. The excessive self-protection measures to shift one’s problems onto his neighbors will accomplish the very opposite.
At the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Myanmar with historic achievements. During the visit, the leaders of the two countries agreed to build a community with a shared future together. As the Myanmar leaders stated, building a community with a shared future is a way to share weal and woe, seize the opportunities together and meet the challenges hand in hand. The Myanmar government and people gave firm support to China in the battle against the epidemic, inserting a footnote to China-Myanmar community with a shared future with concrete action. In his letter to President Xi Jinping, Myanmar President U Win Myint expressed that as a friendly neighbor of China, Myanmar is ready to work closely with China to overcome the virus outbreak. Many Myanmar businesses and people have raised and donated materials that were in short supply in China. Some Myanmar citizens have prayed for China at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and other locations. Others have produced short video clips to cheer up Wuhan. All of these efforts have moved us deeply.
The epidemic is temporary, but the efforts to build China-Myanmar community with a shared future will last long. Our joint effort in this battle against the epidemic is another demonstration of the deep-rooted paukphaw friendship between our two countries. As close neighbors and partners who have given each other help and support, we will work with the Myanmar side to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, promote pragmatic cooperation and deepen cultural exchanges, and continue to provide support on issues concerning the Rakhine State and the peace process in Myanmar. I believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, China and Myanmar will be able to stand together at trying times and take solid steps towards a China-Myanmar community with a shared future.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar)