Transcript of the Q&A Session of Commissioner Xie Feng's Press Conference on the Prevention and Control of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia (with Chinese translation)

Transcript of the Q&A Session of Commissioner Xie Feng's Press Conference on the Prevention and Control of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia

(with Chinese translation)


7 February 2020, Hong Kong


1. Chief Representative of the BIS Office for Asia and the Pacific: Some institutions have forecast that 0.3 to 1.1 percentage points could be shaved off China's growth rate due to the coronavirus. What is your assessment of the impact of the outbreak on the Chinese economy, and will it affect the efforts of poverty eradication?


Commissioner Xie: It is obvious that the outbreak will affect both China's economy and the global economy at large. That said, it's too soon to quantify its economic fallout, for much depends on how China and the world address the challenge.


As Chinese people often say, "Opportunities are often hidden in crisis." and "There are always more solutions than problems." Our powerful and effective response so far has proven that the coronavirus can be prevented, controlled and cured, that its economic impact will not last long, and that the sound fundamentals of China's economy will remain unchanged.


While ensuring effective control of the epidemic, we are also making coordinated efforts to promote reform, development and stability, with a special focus on the key tasks of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and winning the battle against absolute poverty.


Recently, the World Bank and IMF have both commented that China has policy space to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and expressed confidence in China's economy.


Therefore, the top priority at present is for the international community to work together to contain the outbreak in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. Thank you.


2. CNN: I'd like to express our condolences over the devastation and the losses caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus. My question has two parts. The first part is: What is your reaction to the death of the Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, the whistle-blower who sounded the alarm about the illness being spread in Hubei Province in December, and who was infected with the virus and sadly passed away? And secondly, his death has generated among netizens in China anger, sense of frustration and calls for the government to apologize. Should the government in Wuhan apologize for his death?


Commissioner Xie: I assume you have already seen the statement made by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on Mr. Li's death, which reads: "Mr. Li Wenliang, unfortunately infected with the novel coronavirus in the battle against the epidemic, passed away on Feb. 7 due to the deterioration of his health and unsuccessful rescue attempts. The Health Commission wants to convey deepest condolences and sympathy to Mr. Li's family members over his death."


The epidemic is caused by novel coronavirus, and it takes time to understand it. When it comes to identifying and containing a major epidemic, any responsible country will act prudently, base decisions on science, facts and evidence, and follow a rigorous procedure. Either negligence or overreaction will have serious consequences; there are enough lessons from the past.


It took only about one week for China to identify the pathogen and share the genetic sequence with WHO and other countries. WHO and many international experts have agreed that China has set a new record in the speed of identifying the pathogen of new viral diseases. Once the virus was identified, governments at all levels in China were immediately mobilized and made all-round planning for preventing and controlling the outbreak, with record speed and intensity.


WHO, as just shown in the video, has spoken highly of China's speed, strength and efficiency, without which the situation would be far worse.


I share WHO's professional and authoritative advice that responses to major epidemics must be precise, and solidly based on science and evidence. Thank you.


3. CCTV: Could you give us more details about what kind of effective communication and information sharing China has had with relevant countries and international organizations in order to combat the coronavirus? And also what role do you think international cooperation will play in fighting against the virus?  


Commissioner Xie: I think international cooperation is vital in containing this outbreak. During the past weeks, in an open, transparent and responsible spirit, we lost no time in notifying WHO and relevant countries and regions of the outbreak, and sharing the genetic sequence with all. We also facilitated the field visit by WHO experts to Wuhan.


President Xi Jinping personally met with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros. And State Councilor Wang Yi had numerous telephone conversations with dozens of foreign ministers of other countries, informing them of China's response, and our readiness to work more closely with WHO and other countries to fight the outbreak. WHO pointed out that the extraordinary measures taken by China have effectively limited the further spread of the epidemic.


We have also addressed concerns of foreign nationals in China in a timely fashion, and did our utmost to protect their health and safety just 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, and also to coordinate a common strategy to contain the outbreak.


So here I'd like to express once again our heartfelt thanks to all the friendly foreign countries, groups, organizations and individuals for their understanding of and precious support for the Chinese people in the campaign against this virus.


I'd also like to emphasize again that public health issues have no boundaries. We will continue to coordinate with other countries to protect public health in the region and the world as a whole. Thank you.


4. Consul-General of Myanmar in Hong Kong: Thank you very much for sharing the information about the situation and China's efforts to control the outbreak. We in Myanmar believe that the critical situation and the difficulties in controlling the outbreak will be overcome at the shortest possible time. And we've already worked with the Chinese government to find a way to overcome the outbreak. My question is: Due to the rumors threatening Hong Kong that there might be a trade closure and closure of factories in China's mainland, the people here have rushed to buy dry goods and other daily products. We have 11 family members at our consulate, so I'm worried about the daily supply. Could you give any information to alleviate my worry?


Commissioner Xie: Thank you, Ms. Consul-General, and please convey our deepest gratitude to the government of Myanmar and your colleagues for standing with China at such a difficult time. I've also read some newspaper reports concerning the worry about the short supply of daily necessities in Hong Kong, including tissue. When I was watching TV over lunch yesterday, I saw the executive director of a major tissue supplier in Hong Kong, Vinda, saying in an interview that they have no problem in meeting normal market needs. The short supply in supermarkets these days is mainly caused by panic buying, and it's highly likely that the citizens have been misled by rumors. For instance, the reports that mainland factories won't resume operation in one to two months are completely false. The executive director made it very clear that their factories in the mainland will return to work either this or next week.  


The Central and the SAR governments will continue to ensure the supply of daily necessities in Hong Kong, which include not only tissue but also rice, drinking water, fruits, meat, vegetables and so on. In fact, Guangdong Province and Macao, which are so close, have no difficulty at all.


I'd like to say to our friends here again that rumor itself is a dangerous virus, which will cause panic and social chaos, and will only hurt the efforts to control the epidemic. So I urge all of you to respect WHO's authoritative and professional advice, value science, facts and evidence, and avoid overreaction and misinformation. Don't be misguided by rumors, still less help to spread them. Thank you.


5. Consul-General of France in Hong Kong: France pledges solidarity with the Chinese people, and I'd like to convey the appreciation of my government to the Chinese government for facilitating the organization of the recent flights from Wuhan in the benefit of French and other European citizens. We here in Hong Kong are facing some specific consular problems, not only because we have a lot of expats, but also because Hong Kong is an international transportation hub. One of these problems is that some countries have decided on restricted access to all passengers from China, including Hong Kong. I personally traveled last weekend, trying to help French nationals blocked by other countries for arriving from Hong Kong. So do you fear that we have to expect more access restrictions from some countries, and do you think this kind of decision may affect the bilateral relationships between these countries and China?


Commissioner Xie: Thank you for reiterating your country's support for Chinese people. I'd like to repeat that we are living in a global village with a shared future. We are all in the same boat. Public health issues have no boundaries, and no country can stay immune. So we need to understand each other, help each other, and stand with each other to combat this virus.


We share WHO's professional and authoritative advice that response should be based on science, facts and evidence, and that overreaction should be avoided. WHO does not recommend and actually opposes any restrictions for travel and trade.


We understand and respect the necessary precautions taken by some countries, such as introducing or enhancing quarantine measures for Chinese visitors at border entry. It's understandable. But some countries have overreacted, such as identifying the virus with a particular nationality, region or race. We firmly oppose that and hope they will correct their wrongdoing. WHO does not recommend evacuation of citizens and diplomats at present. We hope they will seriously reconsider.


So again I'm calling on all of you to pass the message back home that this is the time the international community as a whole should understand each other, help each other, and stand with each other. Thank you.


6. Financial Times: John Mackenzie, a member of the WHO expert committee set up to fight the coronavirus outbreak, has commended China for its speed in - as you mentioned - sharing the genetic sequencing of the virus, but he's also come out and condemned weeks of cover-up by the Chinese government. And there is growing criticism that local authorities in Wuhan and Hubei had been fearful to take action before directions from the center, thus exacerbating the scale of the tragedy. What is your response to this kind of criticism?  


Commissioner Xie: I assume that you are referring to the free flow of information. First of all, the Chinese enjoy freedom of speech and access to information under the law. If you go to our online platforms, especially during the past few weeks, then you'll see how freely and actively the public are engaging in lively discussions of the epidemic, and then you may draw a more balanced conclusion about the freedom of speech and the access to information enjoyed by our people. One thing I'd like to point out is that starting from Jan. 24, the General Office of the State Council has been soliciting via the Internet complaints about the deficiencies in outbreak response and suggestions for improvement. I think this is a very effective approach by the Central government to reach out to the people.


Second, the prevention and control of such a major public health emergency poses a grave challenge to any country in the world. For either countries or international organizations like WHO, there is a rigorous procedure for confirming and releasing epidemic information based on science and facts. Otherwise, it would cause panic and even chaos.


Third, the Chinese government has kept the public and the world informed in an open, transparent and responsible spirit. Domestically, the National Health Commission releases the latest developments every day and has been holding daily press briefings starting from Jan. 27. Local governments at all levels also offer daily updates. Internationally, the Chinese government has notified WHO and relevant countries of the situation in a timely manner, and stayed in close contact with them.


Fourth, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros has lauded China many times for its transparent and timely sharing of information, and repeatedly offered respect and thanks to the extraordinary measures China has taken. Thank you.


7. Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong: Thank you for giving us such an inspirational and factual speech. In this process of fighting the virus, we see a lot of faith, courage, compassion, love and care, and also the Chinese government's decisiveness and effectiveness. There have been some unprecedented actions taken by the government, for example, the lockdown of the Wuhan city. Yet some media, especially Western media, commented about the lockdown of Wuhan as a violation of human rights. What's your comment on this?


Commissioner Xie: Thank you for your recognition of the efforts by the Chinese government and the Chinese people as a whole. The rights to life and health are fundamental human rights. I think all of us will agree that in this time of crisis, the best protection of human rights of people in Wuhan and China at large is to contain the outbreak, treat the patients, and cure as many as possible.


Of course, the lockdown is something none of us wants to see, but it is a difficult choice we have to make at such a special time. The aim is to effectively cut off the transmission of the virus, control the outbreak, and safeguard the rights to life and health of as many people as possible. It is a responsible act in the interest of both China and the world. And I think we should salute Wuhan people for their self-sacrifice.


Locking down the city is by no means abandoning its people. After the lockdown, General Secretary Xi Jinping and other leaders have shown daily concern for the people there and stressed the importance of ensuring their normal lives and rights. Premier Li Keqiang and other officials visited Wuhan to inspect and direct local prevention and control efforts. According to big data, within one week of the lockdown, over 120,000 medical personnel, experts, construction workers, logistical drivers and PLA soldiers headed to the city from 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, and over RMB 2 billion fund was allocated. Hospitals like Huoshenshan and Leishenshan were built from scratch in 10 days. Medical and daily supplies keep flowing in, and people around China have cheered Wuhan on with donations and online messages. Wuhan is not alone. Standing with it are 1.4 billion Chinese people, and, I'm sure, the rest of the international community as well. Thank you.


8. Phoenix TV: What are the measures taken by the Central government to protect Hubei citizens stranded overseas? And how do you view personally the irrational behaviors or actions targeting Chinese nationals in some countries? How should the government protect them?


Commissioner Xie: Indeed, we've seen in some countries discrimination, insult and even assaults against the Chinese and other Asians. China firmly opposes such actions.


It's the virus that we are against, not members of the global village. It's simply wrong to identify the virus with a particular nationality, region or race. Discrimination and hatred based on region, nationality or ethnicity are infringement upon human rights and dignity.


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. And I believe this is in the interest of all members of the international community.


It's heartening to see governments and people in more and more countries have come out and condemned such appalling actions.


China urges relevant governments to prohibit and punish such actions, and take effective measures to earnestly protect the safety, dignity and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.


The Chinese government will continue to take care of each of its citizens, especially those from Wuhan and Hubei Province at large. We have been getting in touch with all those stranded overseas, and providing chartered flights to take them back home. And we have been in contact with governments all around the world to make sure that Chinese citizens are treated equally and fairly. In case of mistreatment and discrimination against our people, we have lodged representations with local governments and urged them to take effective measures to stop such wrongdoing. We will continue to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. Thank you.





(2020年2月7日 香港)















































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