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China’s envoy thanks India for support during coronavirus crisis

China appreciates the support and solidarity that India has extended in its fight against the novel coronavirus, Beijing’s envoy said on Tuesday. Speaking at a press conference, Sun Weidong said China and India have been in close contact to deal with the threat and assured that Beijing would look after Indian nationals in China as its own.

“Virus is borderless and a common threat to everyone in the world. Facing this common challenge, we need to strengthen cooperation, enhance mutual understanding, show solidarity, and jointly overcome difficulties,” said Ambassador Sun emphasising that the threat from the coronavirus would be defeated by the joint efforts of China and the global community. He said kind gestures from common people in India had left a lasting impression on him.

The press interaction was the first since the outbreak late last year of the novel coronavirus epidemic, which has affected about 70,000 people inside China and posed a significant international health crisis. The diplomat maintained that the novel coronavirus disease was “preventable, controllable and curable” and that China had acted in a decisive manner to deal with the public health crisis.

On February 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to President Xi Jinping extending India’s assistance to fight the coronavirus outbreak. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had also spoken to his counterpart Wang Yi and urged an objective evaluation of the crisis. “We appreciate and thank the solidarity and support rendered by India,” said the ambassador.

Elaborating on the multi-layered measures activated by Beijing to deal with the crisis, China’s envoy highlighted the roles played by President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang in setting up emergency measures across all the 31 provinces of China. He acknowledged that the health crisis had made a “certain impact” on the Chinese economy but described the setback as “local, temporary and limited”.

Ambassador Sun maintained that the Chinese government had coordinated with local universities in Hubei province to provide essential materials, and masks to Indian students in the region and helped them deal with the crisis. “We attach great importance to the health and safety of foreign nationals in China, and will take good care of the Indian citizens in China like our own,” he said. “I did learn about the situation of Indian students in Hubei province… they are taken good care of with good health, sufficient daily necessities, accommodation and food. So far there is no report of infection for the Indian citizens in China,” he added.

The envoy said both China and India were facing similar public health challenges and there was “huge potential” for collaboration to counter emerging threats. “We are ready to explore opportunities with India for cooperation in areas of public health and science,” the ambassador added.

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