United as one and triumphant we will stand
The past two weeks have been agonizing for me, as my heart is tremendously strained with the sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus rampaging in my motherland. Right now, 1.4 billion Chinese people are sparing no efforts in the fight against the epidemic. About 60 medical teams composed of 11 thousand doctors and medical staff dispatched from other provinces of China, responding in one heartbeat, have rushed to Wuhan city, the epicenter and its neighboring cities in Hubei province, to join the fight on the frontline against the epidemic day and night. 1.4 billion Chinese people, resolutely united as one, have committed themselves to the strictest measures of epidemic prevention and control. We all have our hearts set on one goal: race against time and fight against the virus. Every day we witness heroic deeds from ordinary individuals, which always bring tears to my eyes.
Behind these touching stories, we see the Chinese people firmly upholding their nation’s wellbeing with all of their might; we see them shouldering their country’s fate with adamant faiths; we see them expressing their deepest love for their country with staunch actions. Indeed, we live in a peaceful and prosperous time, only because those unsung heroes and their selfless devotions make it possible. Without these heroic deeds, without the nation-wide supports and concerted acts, the situation of the epidemic in China would be much grimmer.
Recently, our strenuous efforts fight the battle against the epidemic begin to show promising results. Although the number of confirmed and suspect cases are still high, the increment across all provinces in China, excluding Hubei province, has been dropping rapidly for 7 consecutive days . Instead, we see a sharp rise in the number of cured and discharged cases, counting 3496 in total. With the Chinese New Year Holiday drawing to an end and people preparing to return to work, albeit we cannot jump to the conclusion that the outbreak has duly reached its turning point, these are indeed inspiring news that show us the light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks to the prompt efforts by the Chinese government in sharing first-hand information about the epidemic to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries and cooperating with all sides on epidemic prevention in a timely manner so far as of today, only less than 1% of all the confirmed cases happened outside China. This, to a large extent, is because of the meticulous restrictive measures taken by the Chinese government to prevent the exportation of the epidemic, as well as the strictest measures of self-isolation taken by the Chinese people. These actions have been duely recognized and highly commended by the WHO and the international community. Dr Tedros Adhanom, the Director-General of the WHO, has recently described China as a benchmark for combating such massive scale epidemic.
Now, every province, every city and every citizen in China is fully rallied, as we stand our ground and rise to face the challenge. It is now a people’s war, and it is everyone’s war. 1.4 billion Chinese people, joining forces like no other, had aborted the usual festivities of the Chinese New Year such as visiting, gathering and parties. They secluded themselves at home, in accordance to the requests from the government and local communities. A campaign of self-isolation on a grand scale is being carried out, as we understand that is the most effective way to stop the virus from further spreading.
Of course, every war has its costs. This time, we are paying in terms of personal freedom of movement, severe impediments in productive activities and national economy. However, these costs are undoubtedly dwarfed by the health and safety of the Chinese people, and it is only fair to say that China and the Chinese people has been doing a good job, in a united, determined and tenacious way. And we are winning this war.
Moreover, China has been doing all these not only for herself, but also for the whole world. In this exceedingly globalized and inter-connected world, any virus would be able to spread the same way we travel. Virus knows no borders and no difference among races. It is only logical to eliminate the virus within China fast to inhibit the international spreading. Thus, ever since the beginning of the outbreak, the Chinese government has exhausted all possible means, including calling off all outbound Chinese tourist groups and identifying and sharing the gene sequence of the coronavirus with the WHO and other countries within the first week. We have even gone to the length of locking down of Wuhan city, the epicenter, and its neighboring cities, with other dozens of cities adopting close-off management of residential communities.
There is one altruism philosophical idea embedded in the five-thousand-year Chinese civilization, that one would sacrifice his self-interests for collective interests of the community. Today, when the humanity is tested by this gruesome epidemic, the Chinese people have once again demonstrated this national spirit. It is this spirit that has guided the Chinese nation and civilization through the trials of time. It is also this very spirit that will lead the Chinese government and people today to the final victory in the fight against the epidemic.
Our confidence also comes from the invaluable support and aid from the international community. By the end of February 5th, 21 countries and international organizations, including Malaysia, have offered assistance by donating to China medical supplies in large quantities. Friends around the world have pledged their much-needed support to China by different means. This has proved to the Chinese government and the Chinese people that we are not alone in this critical fight.
I was more than once deeply moved by the precious support from both the Malaysian government and the Malaysian people. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir has positively remarked that the Malaysian government would provide assistance, when needed, in forms of food supply and medical essentials such as face masks and gloves to Hubei province and other areas in China. Two weeks ago, along with YB Teresa Kok, Minister of Primary Industries, I attended the donation ceremony where the Malaysian side had donated 18 million clinical gloves to Wuhan. Video clips, sent to me constantly over the last two weeks, in which Malaysian people are chanting “Wuhan jiayou” (Keep on fighting, Wuhan) had tugged at the heartstrings of me and my colleagues of the Chinese Embassy and Consulates. We have already forwarded the clips back to China, hoping to make the voices of the Malaysian people heard, that our Malaysian friends are standing with us, hands in hands, shoulders to shoulders.
Among these video clips, those from MITA, MICA and other tourism associations in Malaysia had drawn my special attention. I am fully aware that many Malaysian friends working in the tourism industry are now having a really hard time since the epidemic struck. Some of them may even cannot make their two ends meet in the coming one or two months as all the tours from China are canceled. Yet what comes from them is definitely not any blame nor complaint, but genuine, enthusiastic cheers and encouragements for Wuhan, for China. I must have a heart of stone to be not moved by their kindness.
I am also grateful for the various kinds of donations from our Malaysian friends and organizations from all walks of life. When I thanked one of our old friends in Malaysia for his donation, he just replied with a few simple words: a small contribution in time of need. Every word of support and every form of assistance is a help in need and in time, and it demonstrates the unwavering friendship between China and Malaysia in time of adversity. Here, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all Malaysian friends who have been supporting out efforts in fighting the epidemic, for your invaluable support in this time of trial. Thank you, Malaysia!
In today’s globalized world, in mountains and streams we differ, but the same breeze and moon we share. Viruses, regardless of kinds and types, are the common enemies of human race. To fight against and eventually quench the outbreak of the novel coronavirus requires, of course, global collaboration. Just like what Dr Tedros Adhanom has commented, “This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.” Only by standing as one and fighting as one, could we grasp the final triumph in our hands. History will long remember not only the arduous endeavors by the Chinese people in this fight against the novel coronavirus, but also how people all over the world have joined hands and together defended the humanity.
We are now fighting a war without gun smoke, and it is not over yet. But I believe, with determination, confidence and patience, the victory will be ours. The world is actually no stranger to public health emergencies like the infectious diseases. In the last decade, before the novel coronavirus, our generation has confronted directly the menace of H1N1, bird’s flu, MERS and Ebola virus. All of them looked threatening and deadly, yet none of them could finally gain the upper hand over the wisdom and the might of the humanity.
As the Chinese people always say, “Adversity helps to build a stronger nation.” We do not need to look very far back to see that in 2003 and 2008, the Chinese nation and its people have overcome the grave challenges posed by SARS and the massive Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province. As we conquered each hardship and adversity, we have always emerged stronger and tougher than before. This time it would be no different. I strongly believe that with the supports from our friends all over the world, including Malaysia, the brave and persistent Chinese people will once again defeat the epidemic, and stand triumphant in the end.
The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia.