|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Daily Briefing Online on February 6, 2020|
First, I'd like to share some data with you. According to the latest data this morning from the National Health Commission, between 00:00 and 24:00, February 5, 261 cured and discharged cases and 73 fatal cases were newly reported in China's mainland.
As of 24:00 February 5, a total of 1,153 cured and discharged cases and 563 fatal cases have been reported in China's mainland.
Newly reported confirmed cases in China excluding Hubei declined for a second day starting from February 4.
Q: Some media informed that maybe the number of confirmed cases and dead persons are higher as the official figures are saying. What's your comment about it?
A: The Chinese government puts people's life and health as its top priority. Acting with openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility, it has been sharing information in a timely manner, enhancing international cooperation, putting in place a nation-wide scheme, pooling national resources and taking the most strict and thorough measures to fight the outbreak. The National Health Commission and the Wuhan health authorities hold daily briefings to keep the public updated. China's openness, transparency and high sense of responsibility, and its decisive and effective measures have been recognized by the international community.
We have noted some rumors and lies on this epidemic, which are worse than the virus itself. You may have noted that even WHO Director-General has repeatedly called on people to not believe in rumors or spread them. In some countries, relevant departments have been stepping up efforts to bring to justice those creating and spreading rumors about the epidemic.
Q: Media reported that China is likely considering invoking the disaster-related clause in the Phase One trade deal with the U.S. and launching consultations on the matter due to the coronavirus outbreak. Can you comment on whether China is deliberating such a step?
A: I have no information on that. I would refer you to the competent authorities.
Q: Reports show that Taiwan official William Lai, during a personal trip to US, visited the White House and had a 70-minute meeting with US National Security Council officials. Does China see this as another sign of warming political and security ties between Taiwan and the US? What effects will it have?
A: China firmly opposes official exchange between the US and the Taiwan region. This position is clear and consistent. We have made stern representations to the US side regarding the US allowing Lai Ching-te to attend activities in the US. We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques and stop official exchange with Taiwan. It shall not arrange for contact of any form between US leaders, government officials, Congress members and Lai. It should prudently handle issues relating to Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces to avoid causing serious harm to China-US relations.
Q: Some countries have gone to the extreme of suspending flights with China. What is your response?
A: Since the onset of the outbreak, the Chinese government has taken the most thorough and strict prevention and control measures, and such measures are increasingly showing their effects. WHO lauded China's strong measures and stressed many times that it does not recommend and even opposes imposing restrictions on travel. As some countries have taken such excessive steps as suspending flights, ICAO has also issued bulletins and encouraged all countries to follow WHO recommendations.
We deplore and oppose those countries who went against WHO's professional recommendations and ICAO's bulletins and have lodged stern representations with them. Their actions, which sowed panic among the public, will not help prevent and control the epidemic. They have gravely disrupted normal personnel exchanges, international cooperation and order of the international market of air transportation.
We urge the relevant countries to think carefully, not to overreact, nor restrict flights operated by airlines of the two sides, with bilateral relations and cooperation in mind. They should immediately correct their policies and wrongdoings in reference to recommendations of the WHO and ICAO and take concrete actions to support China's battle against the epidemic.
Q: A Bloomberg report says that China sealed off Hubei province to save the world form the novel coronavirus outbreak. It analyzes that "the idea of sacrificing one's self for a greater, national goal is deeply-embedded in Chinese culture, and is invoked by the country's leaders in times of hardships". I wonder if you can give a comment?
A: I've noticed this article. It reminds me of a popular Chinese song Nation with the line "a family is the smallest cell of a nation while a nation is thousands of families put together". Indeed, as the lyric puts it, sacrificing one's family for all and putting the country before oneself has always been a spiritual hallmark of the Chinese nation ingrained in our genes. This is a strong bond uniting all Chinese people. After the onset of this epidemic, the Chinese government, putting people's health first, has done its utmost to make sure every patient receives timely treatment. At the same time, we have seen so many touching stories of people sacrificing themselves for the greater good. The Chinese people's sense of responsibility to the country has been fully displayed in this joint fight against the outbreak.
Just as President Xi pointed out while meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sun yesterday, the Chinese nation has experienced hardships and difficulties. China has the confidence and the capacity to win this battle. We will continue to enhance cooperation with the international community for the sake of Chinese citizens' health and global public health.
It has been snowing for two days in Beijing. However, the Beginning of Spring, the first of the 24 solar terms, has already come. As winter retreats and spring advances, everything will come back to life. The Chinese people, fighting united as one, will surely defeat the epidemic.
Q: Officials in some countries suggest their citizens should leave China as soon as possible because there might not be commercial flights taking them to other countries in the next few weeks due to possible travel restrictions. I wonder if you have any comment?
A: That's just baseless assumptions.
After the epidemic outbreak, the Chinese government attaches high importance to the life and health of all people in China, Chinese and foreign nationals alike. We have taken the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures against the novel coronavirus, many of which have far exceeded what WHO and International Health Regulations required. Currently the security, health and living standards of foreign nationals in China is guaranteed. The Civil Aviation Administration of China has taken effective measures to minimize the possibility of virus spreading in airplanes and to ensure travelers' safety and health on international flights. We hope all countries can assess the epidemic situation and China's efforts in a calm, objective and rational manner and do not overreact.
China's position is clear: China's civil flights will not be suspended, and the Chinese government will take Chinese nationals home wherever they are.
Q: You talked about the number of foreign nationals confirmed of 2019-nCoV in China and the services China has provided for foreigners to know about the epidemic. Is there any update on the number now? What other measures do you take to address foreign nationals' needs?
A: We put the life and health of Chinese and foreign nationals in our country as the first priority and have mobilized enormous medical supplies and daily necessities to fight against the virus. According to data from the competent authority, as of noon February 6, 19 foreign nationals have been confirmed of 2019-nCoV pneumonia, among them two have been cured and discharged from hospital while 17 are receiving treatment in isolation.
China attaches high importance to addressing the concerns and demands of foreign nationals in China, especially those in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The Chinese government has provided timely, multilingual information and advisory services on epidemic prevention and control to foreigners in China.
The foreign ministry and relevant local governments hold briefings on the situation of epidemic prevention and control for foreign embassies and consulates in China to respond to their concerns in a timely manner. Hubei province has strengthened the epidemic prevention and treatment concerning foreigners, and provided guidance to foreign patients in accordance with the tiered diagnosis and treatment system and as required by the community grid management. We have strengthened the protection and assistance for foreign citizens. Many provinces and cities have included foreigners living there in the working mechanism of local governments and communities to meet their needs in life, epidemic prevention and treatment and to offer support to them. Many foreign nationals in China applaud the care and assistance they receive and other measures taken by China. China will continue to care about the safety and health of foreigners in China as much as about its own citizens and guarantee their working and living conditions.
Q: Yesterday the Wall Street Journal carried an article "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia", attacking China with the novel coronavirus outbreak. Do you have a comment?
A: We have seen this report.
Walter Russell Mead, you should be ashamed of your words, your arrogance, your prejudice and your ignorance.
I want to draw Mr.Mead's attention to the following facts. The H1N1 flu that broke out in the US in 2009 has a mortality rate as high as 17.4%, and according to the report by the US CDC issued at the end of January, the 2019-2020 seasonal influenza in the US has infected 19 million people and killed at least 10,000 people. Compared with the current pneumonia outbreak in China, Mr. Mead, anything more you'd like to say?
Q: The IPC has now told foreign journalists they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after their return from a place outside their city of residence. Under what health regulation is this requirement being made? Are such requirements being made of all Chinese and non-Chinese citizens, or only of foreign journalists?
A: China is at an unusual time as we are fighting an all-out war against this epidemic. Putting people's safety and health first, Beijing and other localities have all issued notices on strengthening epidemic prevention and control efforts. We have the understanding, coordination and cooperation of all Chinese people.
Out of concern for the foreign journalists stationed in China, the IPC kindly reminds them to take special care and mind personal hygiene, comply with local regulations and arrangements on their interview outings, and protect themselves from infection. Many foreign journalists thanked us for the considerate and kind reminders. They have also been most understanding and cooperative.
Q: Considering the coronavirus outbreak, is China considering delaying the annual meeting of the "two sessions"?
A: I haven't heard of that. We are doing our best to fight the epidemic for an early victory.
Q: China reportedly took home 147 Wuhanese from Singapore yesterday. Are you arranging evacuation of other Chinese citizens from anywhere else in the world?
A: After some countries resorted to extreme restrictions such as suspending flights despite WHO recommendations and ICAO bulletins, some Chinese nationals have ended up stranded overseas. The Chinese government attaches great importance to addressing this situation. The MFA and Chinese diplomatic missions overseas have been assisting them in getting back home by changing flight or transiting in another country. At the same time, we have also been trying to get flights resumed to bring them home.
I must stress that certain countries' ill-advised decisions to suspend flights to and from China are neither cool-headed nor rational. It has had direct impacts on bilateral personnel exchange and cooperation. China expresses strong concern and deplores that. We hope relevant countries will bear in mind overall relations and people's interests and resume normal operation of flights to guarantee normal people-to-people exchange and cooperation.
I want to stress again that China's civil flights will not be suspended. China will continue to do its utmost to bring home Chinese citizens stranded overseas.
Q: Would China consider banning entry of travelers coming from a country seriously affected by the coronavirus?
A: We believe that what is imperative at the moment is to unite and cooperate to achieve an early victory.
As far as I know, China's visa-issuing authorities abroad and port visa authorities are functioning normally. Foreigners have no problem entering China in accordance with China's relevant laws and regulations. If you have any inquiries, please refer to the official website, WeChat and Weibo accounts of China's National Immigration Agency or dial 24h hotline 86-10-66265110.
Q: Is the government working to keep education partnerships and study abroad programs despite fears of the coronavirus pushing some to weigh cutting back academic programs and cooperation with China?
A: We have confidence in winning the battle against the epidemic as soon as possible and will continue international exchange and cooperation in education and other areas.
Q: Considering the steps being taken to contain coronavirus, is China looking at a timeline to bring the epidemic under control?
A: With the concerted efforts of the Chinese people and close cooperation with the international community, we hope we'll win the battle against the epidemic as soon as possible.
Q: We notice that Chinese Consul General in New York expressed gratitude to some people in the United States, and especially the NBA, for providing support for China's efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Does this suggest that the Chinese government's position and attitude changed on this issue?
A: After the onset of the outbreak, people from all walks of life in many countries, including American companies, institutions, organizations and individuals, all supported China in this fight. We thank all the sincere and kind assistance and support from the international community.
Q: Video of an Indonesian policeman singing the "Jiayou Wuhan" song goes viral in Indonesian social media. He also prayed for Wuhan people. He has never been to China before but is able to sing some Mandarin songs. What's your comments?
A: The virus is cold but there's warmth in humanity. During this difficult time, Wuhan city and China is cheered on through the social media by so many lovely people from all corners of the world like this Indonesian policeman. "Come on, Wuhan" is ringing across the globe and known by all.
Let this friend from Indonesia know that the epidemic will pass one day, and when that day comes, we welcome all who support Wuhan and China to visit China, especially Wuhan.
Q: I heard Prof. Huang Xiqiu, a designer of Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, was born in Indonesia 79 years ago. Indonesian netizens are proud of him. What's your response?
A: Thank you for your care and attention for us. Prof. Huang was born in Indonesia and brought up in China. He claims great esteem in architecture, especially in medical architecture and has made important contributions to our battles against SARS and this epidemic. Thanks for noticing this detail and we believe that Mr. Huang also hold fond memories of his birthplace. We hope China-Indonesia friendship will deepen and yield more fruitful outcomes.
Q: The Indonesian students who returned from Wuhan recently are reportedly in good conditions in Indonesia. So far Indonesia had no coronavirus case. What is your opinion on this?
A: Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has spared no efforts to ensure the safety and health of foreign nationals in Hubei Province, including in Wuhan city. We also offered necessary assistance and facilitation for them. I am glad to hear that the Indonesian students are in good condition, and when the epidemic is over, they are welcome to return and resume their study and life in China.
We heard that some people in Indonesia panic about these students coming back from China. This is completely unnecessary. WHO has made it clear that the 2019-nCoV is not a pandemic. We hope that everyone can assess the epidemic situation in a calm, rational and science-based manner and do not buy rumors or overreact.
Q: The measures announced by the Beijing municipal government three days ago say those returning to Beijing - people who are not returning from Hubei - "can go to work" if their body temperature is normal. What is the regulatory basis for telling foreign journalists to self-quarantine if they return from travels anywhere outside Beijing?
A: Everyone should take responsibility for their health and those around them. It is everyone's duty to society. We need all-in efforts to win this battle. IPC's kind reminder is out of concern for the health of you and people around you. Don't you agree?