Transcript of Commissioner Xie Feng's Remarks at the Press Conference on the Prevention and Control of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia

Transcript of Commissioner Xie Feng's Remarks at the Press Conference on the Prevention and Control of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia

7 February 2020, Hong Kong


Dear friends from the press, the consular corps, chambers of commerce and international organizations,


Good morning.


Upon your arrival, my colleagues took your temperature and handed out masks at the entrance. Now the hall we are in smells of antiseptic solution. It's not just for today's event; in fact, it is the "new normal" at the Commissioner's Office. As early as days before the Spring Festival, we already took strict precautions against the outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 n-CoV)-infected pneumonia as instructed by Beijing. For instance,we have the mandatory reporting system, requiring all staff to report temperature in the morning and evening. We have also introduced staggered meal breaks. The key message is this: from the central leadership to the community level, the 1.4 billion Chinese people have been fully mobilized in a public health campaign of a super large scale.


Now, let me ask you a question: How long does it take to build a hospital? China's answer is this: ten days! Let's watch this amazing video.


As you've seen from the video, it took only ten days for the 33,900-square-meter, 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital to be completed from scratch and put into operation. A miracle in ten days - that is CHINA'S SPEED.


China's speed is based on science and facts. We are fully aware that it takes time to understand the novel coronavirus, something we never saw before, and the process requires respect for science, facts and evidence. History tells us that both underreaction and overreaction to a newly emerging infectious disease could have major economic and social fallout; there are enough lessons from the past. Therefore, China has confronted and studied the coronavirus in a scientific and evidence-based manner. Once the pathogen was identified, we lost no time in mobilizing, making all-round planning and taking actions with unprecedented intensity and effect. 


China's speed is to race against the virus. In only one week, we identified the virus, sequenced its genome and shared it with WHO and the world. To put it in context, similar efforts took two months during Ebola and one month in the H1N1 pandemic. In just two days, we put in place an online nationwide information reporting system, which came into use before the lunar New Year's Eve. In three days, we developed new nucleic acid detection kits, and we are working on vaccines and drugs day and night.


Next, let's look at a set of photos.


The lady is Ms. Song Caiping, a military medical officer. The left photo shows a tearful hug between her and her 11-year-old son in 2014, as she was leaving for Africa to help with the fight against Ebola. And the right one was taken on the lunar New Year's Eve six years later, when she packed up again, ready for her new mission in Wuhan. The now 17-year-old boy said nothing, but only took her in his arms. Ms. Song did not even have time for the family reunion dinner - the most important one for the Chinese of the year - before setting out.


There are many many more who, like Ms. Song, have given up precious opportunities of family reunion and rushed to the frontline immediately the epidemic broke out. With their enthusiasm and compassion, they have shown the world CHINA'S WARMTH.


Love abounds in the time of the ruthless epidemic. Defying the rampant virus, we the Chinese have stood firm together. In the ongoing battle, the people of Wuhan chose to lock down the city for the sake of others, waiting patiently for the dawn of a new day. "My city has fallen ill, but I love her the same." Such is their innermost feeling for their city;  "See you again in Wuhan in the cherry blossom season!" Such is their sanguine mood; "When everything gets all right, come and I'll treat you to hot dry noodles." Such is their kind invitation to all of us.


The lockdown of the city has not shut off love. As Wuhan people are holding their ground, help keeps pouring in from all parts of China. Health workers have risen to the challenge and applied to go to the frontline, whose stories have so often brought tears to our eyes. Logistic companies have made urgent arrangements and opened green channels for the aid to be delivered. The three telecoms operators have ensured smooth telecommunications services for newly built hospitals with 5G networks. People from around the country have actively raised funds and supplies and had them sent to the front in no time. Netizens keep cheering Hubei on and applauding the medical workers on social media platforms, with uplifting messages like "Stay strong, Hubei!" "Fight on, Wuhan!" and "We are always by your side."


By putting others before themselves and making self-sacrifice, people in Wuhan and China as a whole have done their part for their beloved motherland, and demonstrated their commitment to the world and sense of international responsibility. And when Hubei citizens were stranded overseas, the Chinese government decisively sent chartered flights to take them home. Our country always welcomes her children with open arms!


Underpinning China's speed and warmth is CHINA'S SYSTEM with its marked strength.


General Secretary Xi Jinping has personally directed and made deployment for the prevention and control of the outbreak. On the first day of the lunar New Year, he chaired a special meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, at which a central leading group was set up to oversee the work. Two days later, Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan to inspect and guide local efforts.


The entire nation has been mobilized. All the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China's mainland have activated first-level public health emergency response and taken the most comprehensive and rigorous measures possible. An all-round and multi-faceted system has been established, with Hubei Province and especially Wuhan as the center and covering governments at all levels.


Under the unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, PLA soldiers, experts, medical teams, engineers, construction workers and many more have been deployed to the worst-hit areas. 66.53 billion yuan has been allocated for fighting the outbreak, and over 20 tons of medical supplies are being handled and delivered every hour. A high-level expert team has been quickly convened, and patient subsidy policies implemented. Affected passengers can get free refunds, and price gouging and hoarding are severely punished.


Both urban and rural citizens have made coordinated and collaborative efforts to prevent and contain the outbreak. Residents have spontaneously formed patrol teams to supervise the work. Communities regularly sanitize the compounds and make daily reporting mandatory, so as to cut off the transmission of the virus. Messages are broadcast in various dialects across villages and towns to raise public awareness about the epidemic. A few days ago, when Mr. Lou Qinjian, Party Secretary of Jiangsu Province, did a spot check on a village to inspect the prevention and control work there, he ended up being refused entry by two elderly men on duty for having no entry permit. The video became a hit online, and many netizens said they feel more secure to see such thorough measures on the ground.


For Chinese, the Spring Festival is always an eagerly anticipated time for family reunion and a golden season for visiting relatives and friends, traveling and shopping. Due to the epidemic, though, the entire population have readily fallen into line, avoiding visits or banquets, reducing outdoor activities, and subjecting themselves to home quarantine. But instead of complaining, our people comment jokingly that "Staying at home is contributing to our country", and have managed to entertained themselves with creative means such as "festive greetings online", "cloud partying", Vlogs and "dinner table tennis". It shows how disciplined and responsible the Chinese are, and is a perfect example of Chinese wisdom and optimism.


Now think about this: the 1.4 billion Chinese made about 3 billion trips during the holiday travel rush every recent year, mostly in closed space of trains and airplanes. What a daunting challenge for outbreak control! And yet we've made it against all odds. Not only is out work scientific, orderly, open, transparent and precise, but also it has paid off. We are proving with our efforts that the virus can be prevented, contained and cured, and we have every confidence in winning the final victory.


It is the strength of China's system that has given us such confidence. The strength is reflected in the strong Party leadership, under which the CPC Central Committee has made resolute decisions at the front, and Party organizations and members at all levels have risen to the occasion. It is reflected in the fact that every level of government and social sector has been urgently mobilized in quick response to focus on the most pressing task. It is reflected in the unity of Chinese people for a common cause. It is also reflected in our readiness to respect the facts, sum up the experience and draw lessons from the outbreak, fill the gaps in public health protection, improve the national emergency management system, and enhance the capacity of handling urgent, difficult, dangerous and important tasks.


Ladies and gentlemen,


Let me share with you another story. The first case Germany reported on Jan. 28 originated with a Chinese woman who traveled from Shanghai to Germany for professional purposes. She was asymptomatic on arrival but became ill shortly before taking her return flight to China. After her return to China she was tested and found to be positive, as were her parents, who had visited her from Wuhan prior to her departure. Chinese authorities immediately informed their counterparts in Germany, who were able to take prompt action. This example is a good illustration of the integrity and accountability of Chinese people, the open, transparent, prudent and efficient work style of the Chinese government, and the sincerity with which China is engaging with the international community to control the outbreak.


In the battle against 2019 novel coronavirusn-CoV, we've notified WHO and relevant countries and regions of the outbreak and shared information such as the genetic sequence in a timely manner. We facilitated the field visit by WHO experts to Wuhan in the early days, and have collaborated with WHO in coordinating and guiding global efforts. We've fulfilled our international obligations by promptly addressing reasonable concerns of foreign nationals in China and protecting their health and safety like our own. Our diplomatic institutions overseas have stayed in close contact with local governments to keep them updated on the latest developments and China's efforts.


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the friendly countries, groups and individuals - some of whom may not be here - for your precious support for and assistance to China's prevention and control efforts. We've seen in you the justice, conscience, goodwill and hope of the international community. Please accept our deepest gratitude.

In recent days, a growing number of countries and international organizations have lauded China for what it has done and conveyed their support.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


We are living in a global village with a shared future. Public health issues have no boundaries in such a globalized era, and no country can stay immune.


In the face of the epidemic, we need to pull together, instead of turning against each other. One can't just look on, care only for oneself or undercut others by making irresponsible remarks, still less take advantage of others' misfortune. We hope countries will respect the professional and authoritative advice by WHO, maintain normal economic cooperation, trade and people-to-people exchanges with China, and stop overreaction and fear-mongering.


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the friendly countries, groups and individuals - some of whom may not be here - for your precious support for and assistance to China's prevention and control efforts. We've seen in you the justice, conscience, goodwill and hope of the international community. Please accept our deepest gratitude.


In the face of the epidemic, we need to boost confidence, instead of being misled by and spreading rumors. This is the time for facts, not fear; for science, not rumors; for solidarity, not stigma; and for inspiration, not discouragement. We hope the international community and friends from the media will speak up for justice and act fairly, view China's response in an objective and impartial manner, and recognize the courageous and responsible efforts made by Chinese people. We are all in the same boat, and China is making a significant contribution to the world by doing whatever it takes to contain the coronavirus. Therefore, standing with China is standing with the international community as a whole.


In the face of the epidemic, we especially need to guard against and firmly combat the virus of discrimination, hatred and racism. FightIt's the virus that we are against, not members of the global village. It's simply wrong to identify a virus with a particular nationality, region or race. 


Unfortunately, we've seen in some countries and regions discrimination, insult and even assaults against the Chinese and other Asians. For example, Asian parents in a kindergarten received an email, asking them to let their kids stay at home "as Asians are virus spreaders". SStudents studying abroad who hadn't returned hometo China for years were interrogated by customs officials for hours just because of holding Chinese passports. Some were beaten up for their Chinese faces. And some were avoided like the plague for wearing masks and even pushed onto metro tracks, causing serious injury. What have they done wrong? It's for protecting themselves and others that they've put on masks, and why should that become a reason for such shocking hatred and violence?


The novel coronavirus will be defeated, but the virus of discrimination, hatred and racism will have far more devastating impacts if left unchecked. As we are fighting the coronavirus, we also need to make all-out efforts to contain the latter, which is much more lethal.


It's heartening to see that more and more countries have condemned such appalling actions. Political leaders have spoken out. Cities have launched campaigns to "give the Chinese a hugEmbrace a Chinese". Schools have asked parents to remind their children of treating the Chinese equally. And a growing number of people have made their voices heard online with messages like "Our enemy is the virus, not theFight the virus, not the Chinese" and "Mask means protection, not threat".


We urge the relevant governments to take effective measures to protect the safety, dignity and human rights of all Chinese people, including those from Wuhan and other cities in Hubei Province, and hold the offenders accountable. We've suffered enough from the novel coronavirus; so no more from the virus of discrimination, hatred and racism.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


The HKSAR is also under the threat of the outbreak, and the Central Government is following the developments here closely. China always attaches top priority to the safety and health of itsthe people, including our Hong Kong compatriots and foreign citizens in the cityHong Kong compatriots. The central authorities have and will maintain close communication with the SAR Government, and support and facilitate its science-based and targeted efforts to control the outbreak and protect the safety and health of Hong Kong compatriots and foreign citizens in the city. We at the Commissioner's Office will continue to work closely with foreign institutions in the SAR as usual, and do our best to address your reasonable concerns. It is our hope that you will assess the outbreak in a science-based and calm manner, and avoid overreaction such as evacuation of citizens and diplomats.


I am fully confident that with the strength of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, with China's achievements in science and technology and economy over the past seven decades, with the infectious disease prevention and control system established since the 2003 SARS outbreak, and with our successful experience in combating the H1N1 Pandemic, bird flu, Ebola and other public health challenges, Chinese people will surely win the battle against the coronavirus.


A familiar tune to all of us - "You and Me", the theme song for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


You and Me/ From one world/ We are family/
Come together/ Put your hand in mine/
You and Me/ From one world/ We are family


Although this is not the best time for holding hands, we remain a close-knit family for ever. May we gain an early victory over the epidemic, may all members of the global village stay safe and sound, and may the world become a better place.


Thank you.


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