Medical staff check on patients as they exercise together in the "Wuhan Living" mobile cabin hospital in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on Feb 15, 2020. （Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily）
Country bearing heavy economic costs to protect global interest, envoy says
China is doing everything it can to control the novel coronavirus despite the high economic cost, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said, reassuring the world on China's outbreak effort.
"People's wellbeing, their health, their safety, their life are the most important things for us. So we'll do our best to protect people's wellbeing, in a sense, at whatever cost," said Cui in an interview with the NPR's Morning Edition on Thursday.
At the same time, people also need economic development and a normal social life, so the Chinese government is trying its best to restore normal economic and social activity, said the envoy.
"People's daily necessities have to be provided. And some of the companies and factories have to resume work after the Lunar New Year holidays and we are looking at when and how schools can be reopened," he said.
Cui said that the measures taken came with a high economic cost, including shutting down some major cities, especially Wuhan, a city of 11 million residents, to protect more people.
"We are doing all this, of course, at a high cost. But we are doing this in the larger interest of the entire world. If we fail to stop the virus, it could spread to other countries. Then this would cause an international crisis," said Cui. "So this is, I believe, a real example of one-for-all, all-for-one situation. We are doing this for the world. And we appreciate that the world is helping us."
When asked about the concerns about public unrest in China, Cui said it's "only natural" that some people would panic under the circumstances, but the government has always upheld "openness and transparency" as one of its basic principles.
"We believe openness and transparency will give people more confidence, will give them more awareness about the virus, what the real risks are and how to prevent them," he said.
The "openness and transparency" is reflected in the daily update of the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, which also help dispel fake news, rumors or so-called pseudoscience, he added.
Acknowledging that the epidemic poses an "unprecedented "challenge to China, Cui said that it's also a big challenge to the entire international community, which calls for an "unprecedented" response.
The World Health Organization, or WHO, has already sent an advance team to China and the organization is sponsoring other expert groups to help contain the virus, according to the envoy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a list of experts to the WHO and this is under consideration of the Chinese government and the WHO, he said.
"We welcome experts of all countries to come and help us," said Cui, adding that some American experts, including W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, have visited China.
Despite the trade tensions between the U.S. and China, there's a clear need for the world's top two economies to cooperate because this is a challenge to the entire international community, said Cui.
"We are so interconnected, so interdependent. This interdependence has worked in the interest of both countries. Both economies, both peoples have benefited a great deal from such growing economic ties," he explained.
"In the phone call between President Trump and President Xi, they agree that our two countries should really work closely together to combat this virus," he said.
Since the outbreak, people-to-people cooperation between the two countries remains "very effective and very genuine", said the ambassador, adding that he was "impressed by the goodwill of the American people".
"We appreciate very much the support and assistance given to us by the American people, American businesses, American non-governmental institutions, and many others," he said.
Cui stressed that the phase one trade agreement is part of the efforts by both sides to develop a stronger and more stable relationship between China and the U.S..
"The two sides made genuine efforts to understand the other side, to respect the other side's legitimate needs and concerns, and try to address the issues with a balanced approach and with a sense of equality. If these principles could be applied in our efforts to address other issues in other areas, we could be equally successful," he said.