H.E. Dr. Xu Hong, Ambassador of China, during his intervention at the press briefing about the Corona virus outbreak . Photography by Eric van de Beek.
By Eric van de Beek.
“Measures taken by China have set an example for the global response to epidemic outbreak”, says Chinese ambassador H.E. Dr. Xu Hong. “They fully demonstrate the advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.”
On February 26th the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, H.E. Dr. Xu Hong, hosted a briefing-reception in The Hague for diplomats, Dutch officials and the media about the latest news on the Corona virus outbreak, officially known under the name COVID-19. In his opening remarks the ambassador expressed his deep condolences about the 2,718 Chinese patients that had at that time lost their lives and said that he hoped for the quick recovery of the more than 45,604 diagnosed patients under treatment, of which 8,752 with severe symptoms.
The virus outbreak had posed “unprecedented challenges” to China, Hong stated. The COVID-19 virus appeared difficult to diagnose. There have been cases in which people who had been tested negative still appeared to be infected or even got ill after two weeks of quarantine, he explained. Furthermore, the virus appeared to be highly contagious. It can be transmitted through droplets, contact, air, fecal-oral transmission, “reaching the top of the known virus infection level”. Another unprecedented challenge the Chinese authorities had to deal with was the shortage of medical resources. “With the increasing number of patients, the amount of doctors, beds and medical supplies had to be intensified.”
The outbreak was able to accelerate so fast due to the Chinese New Year Festival, when many Chinese travel to visit family members, Hong declared. The location of the outbreak, the city of Wuhan, furthermore helped the virus to spread rapidly. “Wuhan is precisely the transportation hub of the central part of China.”
“Light of victory”
Although describing the current situation as “still harsh” Hong said he saw “light of victory coming through”. The number of newly confirmed cases was gradually declining, he reported, from more than 3,000 cases per day in early February to 406 on February 25th. Hong also pointed out the fatality rate of the disease of 3.5% was far lower than Ebola, SARS and MERS, “which proves that the disease is largely curable.” Already 38% of all confirmed cases had been cured.
Hong summed up measures China had adopted that had effectively curbed the spread of the virus, among which the detection and publication of the genetic sequence of COVID-19; the lockdown of Wuhan; the construction of two temporary hospitals; sending over 40,000 medical workers to the province of Hubei; the cancelation of all outbound tourist groups, and a close cooperation with World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Rarely seen in the world”
The measures taken by China to contain the virus and to treat patients “have set an example for the global response to epidemic outbreak in many aspects”, the ambassador said to believe, thereby referring to Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,who had praised China for its response to the Corona outbreak as being “rarely seen in the world”. Hong attributed the achievements of China in the fight against Corona to “the socialist system with Chinese characteristics” and to “the fearless sacrifice and unprecedented cohesion of the Chinese people.”
Since the outbreak, more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations have expressed sympathy to China, and nearly 30 countries have provided official assistance to China, Hong noted, among which The Netherlands. “The Dutch government has provided an additional aid fund of one million euros to the WHO and Dutch companies have donated medical supplies worth tens of millions of RMB to China.”
Hong furthermore praised “the necessary and reasonable prevention measures taken by The Netherlands, including following WHO advice by not taking additional restrictive measures on personnel and trade, and timely releasing and updating of guidelines by relevant institutions such as Dutch health authority RIVM.”
“Short-term economical impact”
In his closing remarks the ambassador described the economical impact of the epidemic as “limited, short-term and manageable” and as “the cost we have to bear in order to protect people’s lives and health.” He stressed the fundamentals of China’s economic growth had not been changed in any way, because of its “solid material and technological foundation” and because of begin the second-largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of nearly 100 trillion RMB (= 12,3 trillion euro).
In this respect he also refered to timely measures the Chinese government had taken to overcome the short term impact of the virus, among which increased capital investments, phased tax and fee reductions and strengthening preferential credit support. Hong even said to believe the Chinese economy will emerge stronger from the battle against the virus outbreak: “The epidemic accelerates economic transformation and upgrading. While offline consumption such as exhibitions, tourism and entertainment services are heavily hit by the epidemic, new business formats and models online are growing stronger, including the Internet of Things, online retail and medical services.”
On February 28th, two days after Chinese ambassador Dr. Xu Hong held his speech in The Hague about the latest news on the Corona virus outbreak, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported factory activity in China had dropped at the fastest pace on record in February. China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to a record low of 35.7 in February from 50.0 in January.
For the latest numbers of reported Coroniavirus cases in China and other countries: check Worldometer.