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)
2020/02/08
 

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.

 

 

谢锋特派员在抗击新冠肺炎疫情

中外记者会上的答问实录(中译文)

(2020年2月7日 香港)

 

一,国际清算银行亚太代表处首席代表:近期多家机构预测疫情将使中国经济增长放缓0.3-1.1个百分点.您怎么评估肺炎疫情对中国经济以及实现全面脱贫目标的影响?

谢锋:新冠肺炎疫情不仅对中国经济,而且对世界经济带来的负面影响都是显而易见的,但现在谈具体量化为时过早,因为这涉及一个重要变量,即中国和世界如何应对.

中国人常说,"危中有机","办法总比困难多".前一阶段,我们的应对不仅有力而且有效,这表明疫情是可防,可控,可治的,对经济的影响是阶段性的,暂时性的,不会改变中国经济长期向好的基本面.

在做好防控工作的同时,我们也在统筹抓好改革发展稳定各项工作,特别是涉及决胜全面建成小康社会,决战脱贫攻坚的重点任务.

近日,世界银行和IMF也接连表示,中国有足够的政策空间应对疫情,对中国经济充满信心.

因此,当务之急,国际社会应当坚定信心,精诚团结,同舟共济,齐心协力打赢新冠肺炎阻击战.

二,CNN:首先,我们对疫情造成的重大损失和人员伤亡表示哀悼.我的问题分为两个部分:第一,12月最早发出预警的李文亮医生不幸感染病毒逝世,您对此如何回应?第二,李医生的逝世激起广泛民愤,很多人要求武汉政府道歉.您认为武汉政府是否应该道歉?

谢锋:武汉市卫健委已就此发表公告:李文亮在抗击新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情中不幸感染,因病情恶化,经抢救无效,于7日去世,卫健委向李文亮医生表示沉痛哀悼,并向其家属表示深切慰问.

这次疫情是由新型冠状病毒引起的,人类对它的认识有一个逐步深化的过程.任何负责任的国家对重大传染病疫情的判定和防控都会十分慎重,都要尊重科学,尊重事实,重视证据,都会有一套严格的程序.忽视延误或过度反应都会造成严重后果,历史上这两方面的教训都是深刻的.

中国从判定病源到及时主动同世卫组织和其他国家分享有关病毒序列,仅用了一周多时间.世卫组织和国际上许多专家都一致认为中国开创了世界新型病毒感染症快速确诊的新纪录.确认病毒后,中国各级政府迅速动员,全面部署,抗疫工作全面展开,应对速度和力度也是创纪录的.

正如刚才大家在视频中看到的,世卫组织高度赞赏中国速度,中国力量,中国效果,认为中国树立了应对疫情的新标杆,若不是中国迅速,有力采取措施,疫情会比现在更严重.

我赞成世卫组织的专业权威意见,应对重大疫情一定要尊重科学,重视证据,精准防控.

三,中央广播电视总台:为抗击疫情,中国与有关国家和国际组织进行了何种有效沟通和信息共享,可否请您进一步阐述?您认为国际合作将在抗疫过程中扮演什么角色?

谢锋:国际合作对抗击新冠肺炎疫情至关重要.一段时间来,们本着公开,透明和负责任的态度,及时向世卫组织,有关国家和地区通报疫情信息,第一时间与各方分享病毒基因序列等信息,接待世卫组织专家小组到武汉实地考察.

习近平主席亲自会见世卫组织总干事谭德塞,王毅国务委员同数十个国家外长通话,介绍中方防控举措,表达与世卫组织和各国加强合作,共同应对疫情的愿望.世卫组织认为,正是中国采取了有力有效的防控举措,才阻止了疫情向世界各国蔓延.

我们及时解决在华外国公民的合理关切,一视同仁保障他们的健康与安全.中国驻外机构也同驻在国政府保持密切联系,及时通报疫情及中方的防控努力.

许多友好国家,友好团体,友好个人对中国抗疫工作给予理解和宝贵支持,中方表示衷心感谢.

公共卫生无国界,我们愿继续与世界各国团结协作,共同打赢这场新冠肺炎疫情阻击战.

四,缅甸驻港总领事:感谢您提供的信息和中方的努力,我们相信中方会尽快战胜疫情,缅方已就此与中国政府开展合作.近日,由于内地工厂因疫情停工,商品即将断供的谣言,香港居民纷纷抢购食品,纸巾等日用品.缅甸驻港总领馆有11名员工,我们对特区能否保障正常日用品供应感到忧虑.您如何回应?

谢锋:缅甸政府和总领馆同事在艰难时刻与中方站在一起,请总领事女士转达我们的谢意.我在报纸上也看到一些对日用物资短缺的关切,包括你提到的纸巾.昨天午餐时,我在电视上看到,香港纸巾的一家主要供应商维达纸业的执行总监接受采访表示,公司生产足以保障市场正常需要,超市近日供货紧张的主要原因是市民因恐慌而进行抢购,而恐慌很可能是因为听信谣言.比如,有报道说内地工厂需要1-2个月才能复工,这就是谣言.该公司负责人明确表示,其内地工厂本周或下周就会复工生产.

中央和特区政府会继续全力保障香港正常的日用物质供应,不光是纸巾,也包括大米,饮用水,水果,蔬菜,肉类等.事实上,临近香港的广东省和澳门特区在日用物资供应方面都没有出现什么问题.

我想再次指出,谣言也是一种可怕的病毒,因为它会制造恐慌,造成社会混乱,严重不利于疫情防控.我们应该尊重WHO对疫情防控的权威,专业意见,尊重科学,重视事实和证据,避免过度反应和不实之词.也希望大家不信谣,不传谣.

五,法国驻港总领事:法国将坚定支持中国人民,我们也感谢中国政府为法国等欧洲公民乘航班离开武汉提供协助.香港是重要的国际交通枢纽,不少法国人常居在此.但由于一些国家决定对所有来自中国,包括香港的乘客实施限制入境措施,我们在香港的领事工作遇到一些困难.上周末,就有法国公民离港入境别国时被拦,向我们寻求协助.请问中方是否认为会有更多国家实施入境限制措施,会不会冲击中国与这些国家的双边关系?

谢锋:谢谢你重申法国将坚定支持中国人民.我们共处一个地球村,是命运相连的共同体.公共卫生没有国界.疫情面前,没有哪个国家可以独善其身.大家应该相互理解,团结互助,携手抗击疫情.

我们赞同世卫组织的权威,专业建议,防控疫情要尊重科学,尊重事实,重视证据,避免过度反应.WHO不赞成甚至反对采取任何旅行或贸易限制措施.

对近期一些国家对中国公民入境采取或加强检疫防疫等必要措施,我们表示理解和尊重.此同时,也有一些国家作出过度反应,比如将病毒与特定国籍,地域,种族划等号等歧视性做法,中方明确反对,要求他们纠正错误.世卫组织建议现阶段没有必要撤侨,撤馆,希望有关国家三思而行.

我希望在座各位向各自政府建议,面对当前疫情,国际社会应该相互理解,相互支持,同舟共济.

六,金融时报:世卫组织新型冠状病毒应急委员会专家约翰·麦肯齐赞赏中方迅速分享基因序列等信息,但同时也谴责中国政府隐瞒疫情长达数周.现在有越来越多批评声音认为,湖北省和武汉市政府在中央未定调前不敢采取行动,导致贻误战机,疫情扩散.您对此如何回应?

谢锋:你想提的可能是信息自由问题.首先,中国人民依法享有充分的言论和信息自由.这段时间,如果你去中国的互联网平台上去看一看,就会发现中国民众非常广泛,自由,热烈地讨论疫情,就会对中国人民享有的言论自由,信息自由状况得出更客观的结论.1月24日,国务院办公厅还专门发布公告,通过互联网面向全社会征集疫情防控工作中的问题线索以及改进和加强防控工作的意见建议.这是中央政府广泛听取群众意见的一项有效举措.

第二,对任何一个国家来讲,防控这样突发的重大疫情都是一场严峻考验.无论是各国政府,还是世卫组织这样的国际机构,都要根据一套严格程序,在尊重科学和事实的基础上,慎重确认疫情并对外发布.否则,就要引发恐慌,甚至社会混乱.

第三,中国政府始终本着公开,透明,负责任的态度及时向国内外发布疫情信息.从国内看,国家卫健委每日通报全国疫情最新情况,并从1月27日起每日举行新闻发布会.各省市地方政府特别是武汉也都建立了每日疫情发布机制.从国际上看,中国政府不仅及时向世卫组织,有关国家通报疫情信息,而且始终保持着密切沟通.

第四,世卫组织总干事谭德塞多次高度赞赏中方在疫情信息上的透明和及时,并多次表示尊重并感谢中国在疫情防治上采取的有力有效举措.

七,西班牙商会董事:感谢您鼓舞人心,内容详实的分享.在抗疫过程中,我们看到了信念,勇气,大爱,也看到了中国果断有力的防控措施.此次疫情中,中国政府采取了一些前所未有的非常手段,如武汉封城.有外媒批评这是侵犯人权,您怎么看?

谢锋:感谢你对中国政府和人民努力的赞扬.我们大家都认同,生命权和健康权是基本人权.当前情况下,对武汉人民乃至全中国人民而言,最大的人权就是防控疫情,治病救人.

我们当然不希望"封城",但这是非常时期不得不采取的果断措施,目的是有效切断病毒传播途径,遏制疫情蔓延势头,切实保障最广大人民的生命权,健康权.这是对中国负责,也是对世界负责.对武汉市民作出的自我牺牲,我们应该表示崇高敬意.

"封城"不是弃城."封城"以后,习主席等领导人高度关注,精心保障武汉民众生活和各项权利.李克强总理等领导人亲临武汉考察指导疫情防控工作.大数据显示,一周之内,就有29个省区市的12万名医护人员,防疫专家,工程人员,物流司机,解放军指战员驰援武汉,20多亿防疫资金迅速到位,类似火神山,雷神山这样的医院10天之内拔地而起,各种防疫和生活物资正源源不断送达武汉,全国人民也通过捐款捐物,网上留言等方式给武汉加油鼓劲.武汉并不孤单!它的背后是14亿中国人民,我坚信还有国际社会.

八,凤凰卫视:中央政府已采取何种措施保护滞留海外的湖北同胞?一些国家出现针对中国公民的不理性行为,您怎么看?

谢锋:近期一些国家出现了针对无辜中国人,华人,亚洲人的歧视,辱骂甚至暴力.中方坚决反对.

隔绝病毒,不能隔绝地球村的居民,不能将病毒与特定国籍,地域,种族划等号.基于地域,国家,种族的歧视和仇恨行为,是对人权和尊严的侵犯.

新冠病毒终将被遏制,但歧视,仇恨,种族主义的"病毒"一旦滋长,将贻害无穷.我们要战胜疫情病毒,也要遏制歧视,仇恨,种族主义这些更加危险的"病毒".这是国际社会的共同利益所在.

我们注意到,越来越多的国家,从政府到民众都对这些倒行逆施予以严厉谴责.

中方敦促有关国家政府制止并依法惩处有关行为,采取有效措施切实保护中国公民安全尊严和合法权益.

中国政府始终将包括武汉等湖北籍同胞在内的每一位中国公民放在心头.我们与滞留海外的中国公民取得联系,协调安排民航包机将他们接返回家.我们与各国政府保持密切沟通,确保中国公民受到平等和公正对待,就中国公民受到的不公和歧视行为提出交涉,敦促有关国家政府采取切实有效措施停止错误做法,等等.我们将继续一如既往坚定维护中国公民合法权益.

 

    

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