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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Daily Briefing Online on February 7, 2020

2020-02-07 23:08

Before we begin the Q&A session, I'd like to share some figures with you. According to the latest data this morning from the National Health Commission, between 00:00 and 24:00, February 6, 387 cured and discharged cases and 73 fatal cases were newly reported in China's mainland.

As of 24:00 February 6, a total of 1,540 cured and discharged cases and 636 fatal cases have been reported in China's mainland.

Newly reported confirmed cases in China excluding Hubei declined for a third day starting from February 4.

Q: As we know, Thailand is a popular destination for Chinese tourists. However, after the epidemic broke out, Thailand didn't impose travel restrictions on Chinese citizens. What's China's comment on this?

A: China and Thailand share true friendship, which is revealed during the times of hardship. As a friendly neighbor and a partner of comprehensive strategic cooperation, Thailand has given strong support and sincere assistance to China. King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Queen Suthida and the Thai government donated medical supplies to China. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in a video "Stay strong, China; Thailand stands with you". People from all walks of life in Thailand have also shown their care and support through various means. The country's social media are filled with slogans such as "Go, Wuhan" and "Wuhan, I love you".

We believe our traditional friendship will grow even stronger amid the difficulties and the two peoples will stand in greater solidarity.

Q: The Taiwan region claims that the mainland has been sending WHO incorrect data on novel coronavirus cases in Taiwan and accuses it of thwarting the region's cooperation with the WHO. US ambassador to the UN in Geneva said that the WHO needs to engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities in the fight against coronavirus. What's your comment?

A: Since the outbreak of the 2019-nCoV, the National Health Commission, attaching high importance to Taiwan compatriots' life and health, has kept the region informed with timely updates with a view to strengthening cross-strait response to the epidemic. It has shared with the Taiwan region 16 technical documents covering, among others, diagnostic and treatment solutions, prevention and control plans, guidelines on medical protective gear's scope of use as well as the virus' genome sequence and how this information was obtained. With regard to Taiwan compatriots in the mainland confirmed to be infected with the virus, we've been feeding instant information to the Taiwan region, sharing latest developments and tracing close contacts.

Upon verification with the National Health Commission, as of 10:00 February 7, China's mainland has updated the Taiwan region altogether 42 times on the epidemic and the Taiwan region has sent the mainland its 19th update. The statistics on the Taiwan region that the National Health Commission reports to the WHO is based on information provided by the Taiwan region. If there's any incorrect data, it would be the result of problematic information from the Taiwan region.

I would like to reiterate that the WHO is a special UN agency consisting of sovereign states. The Taiwan region's participation in the activities of international organizations such as the WHO must be arranged through cross-strait consultations under the one-China principle. According to arrangements between China and the WHO, medical and health experts from the Taiwan region can attend WHO technical meetings and WHO experts can travel to the Taiwan region to conduct research or provide assistance when such needs arise. The Taiwan region has timely access to information on global public health emergencies released by the WHO and information can also flow readily the other way. With these arrangements in place, the Taiwan region is able to cope promptly and effectively with local or global public health emergencies. We hope certain individuals in the Taiwan region and the US will stop all political hype-up and manipulation using the epidemic as an excuse.

Q: A Financial Times report quoted a US official as saying that the US government cited concerns over China's scientific spying program as the reason to block a Chinese plan to build headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The official claimed that China is posing a threat to Africa as it plans to steal vast amounts of genomic data from the continent. What's your comment?

A : This is just as ridiculous as the recent allegation by some in the US that China is building the AU conference center to steal AU data. It shows that some people in the US always make presumptions by their own pattern.

This official might not know in light of the fragility of Africa's public health system as revealed in the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic, it is Africa's urgent hope that the international community will help it build the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). In 2015, China started helping Africa with its public health security system and capacity building. In 2016, China and the US signed an MOU on jointly supporting the Africa CDC. The two sides agreed to, under the cooperation principle of projects proposed, agreed and led by Africa, jointly support the building of the Africa CDC, and strengthen Africa's public health capacity. Both have public health experts working as consultants at the headquarters for technical support.

The health sector is an important area in China-Africa cooperation. China has sent medical teams of altogether 21,000 members to Africa and has treated 220 million African patients. They are deeply respected by local people as some Chinese doctors even sacrificed their lives in this cause. After the Ebola epidemic raged through Africa in March, 2014, certain countries closed their embassies and evacuated diplomats and citizens from three West African countries hit by the epidemic. By sharp contrast, the Chinese government helped Africa at the earliest time possible. We sent not only urgently needed supplies but also medical teams of over 1,000 military and civilian doctors to areas stricken most severely by the epidemic. Chinese diplomats and medical experts chose to stay there instead of withdrawing. They fought together with local people until the virus was defeated.

At this critical moment of fighting 2019-nCoV, African governments and people expressed support to China through various means. Hardship reveals true friendship. China-Africa friendship has withstood all tests. It cannot and will not be shaken by some people sowing discord.

Q: FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a conference at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies that no country poses a greater threat than Communist China and that the threat needed to be addressed through action across the whole US society. US Attorney General William Barr told the conference China has emerged as the "top geo-political adversary" of the United States. Can I get a response?

A: Speaking of threat, the results of a global Pew poll in February 2019 show that 45 percent of those surveyed think the US poses a serious threat to the world. The figures in some US allies are even higher. Some recent views expressed by US media and academia hold that the top geopolitical threat for the US is not from others, but itself.

While the Chinese people are fighting the epidemic with one heart and one mind, certain individuals in the US continue attacking and smearing China. This is a sobering reminder that apart from the novel coronavirus, we also need to guard against virus of ideology and Cold War mentality.

Q: The WHO has said a multinational WHO-led team would go to China to work with Chinese authorities in tackling the outbreak. Have they arrived?

A: China has been sharing information with the WHO and the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner, and has invited experts including from the WHO for field trips to Wuhan. We have learned that the National Health Commission is in close communication with the WHO on relevant arrangements for the joint expert group's visit to China. You may contact the National Health Commission for more details.

Q: China said it has full confidence in its ability to defeat the coronavirus outbreak. Does this signal that China doesn't anticipate needing foreign aid from the U.S. and other countries?

A: China has been relying mainly on its own strength to fight against this epidemic. At the same time, we welcome and appreciate the sincere and kind support and assistance from the international community.

Q: According to reports, apart from Hubei and Wuhan, some other provinces and cities in China have been locked down or are expected to be locked down. Can you confirm that?

A: I would refer you to the competent authorities and the daily press briefings hosted by the National Health Commission.

Q: I understand that the residence visa of some Indians who weren't allowed to board the evacuation flights from Wuhan is expiring soon. What should Indians facing this problem do?

A: I'm not aware of what you mentioned and would refer you to the competent authority. In accordance with relevant international practices and epidemic prevention and control measures, China offers convenience and facilitation to foreign nationals departing from Wuhan.

Q: According to reports, the data circulated on some social media suggest that the number of people who were killed by the novel coronavirus pneumonia has exceeded 636. Could you please clarify?

A: You can follow the statistics that the NHC updates everyday.

Q: Yesterday Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang asked Italy to resume direct flights during a meeting with Italian ambassador Luca Ferrari. Is China thinking about countermeasures if direct flights don't resume?

A: China and Italy enjoy a friendly relationship. At this trying moment while China is fighting the outbreak, Italy expressed support to China and donated supplies for epidemic prevention and control. Yesterday, President Sergio Mattarella paid a visit to a primary school in Rome where many Chinese students are studying. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also said discriminatory remarks or deeds against China because of the epidemic are foolish. These all show the friendly sentiments Italy holds towards the Chinese people.

After the epidemic broke out, Italy suspended direct flights between China and Italy, causing great inconvenience to travelers. China has been working on the Italian side and expressed its concern, urging the Italian side to follow WHO advice, withdraw the suspension of flights as soon as possible and asking it not to take excessive restrictive measures for the sake of bilateral cooperation. The Italian side said it takes China's concerns seriously, and based on the request of Chinese airlines, it is ready to resume some civil flights for normal exchange as soon as possible.

Q: Media reported yesterday that Indian hackers are targeting Chinese medical institutions amid the Coronavirus outbreak, trying to extract sensitive data. What's your comment?

A: We have noted relevant reports. China is home to a large online community in the world and also a major victim of cyber hacking. We firmly oppose cyber attacks of any kind. Meanwhile, we believe that the international community should strengthen dialogue and cooperation to jointly counter all kinds of cyber attacks and foster and uphold a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace.

I want to stress that China is now fighting this war against the epidemic with all-out efforts. At such an unusual time and in the face of a public health crisis, all countries should work together to tide over the difficulties.

Q: On Saturday, Premier Li Keqiang said he hoped that the EU will provide necessary convenience as China makes urgent purchase of medical supplies from EU member states through commercial channels. Have any of these medical supplies arrived in China?

A: I understand as of noon February 7, EU members including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Hungary have all donated supplies for epidemic prevention and control to China. Many other EU countries have also expressed support to us through various means.

Q: When it comes to the children of Chinese and foreign nationals who are born in China, is it true that the government policy is not to recognise their foreign nationalities? Was it the case that negotiations over evacuating such children have delayed several foreign evacuations from Wuhan?

A: For Chinese nationals who are lineal relatives of foreign citizens in Wuhan, in light of their family ties, if they want to leave and also have valid international travel documents, they can leave with their families.

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