Chinese CG Li Bijian observes a moment of silence on Thursday for victims of coronavirus as well as those who died in the Karachi gas leak at the KPC.—White Star
Chinese CG Li Bijian observes a moment of silence on Thursday for victims of coronavirus as well as those who died in the Karachi gas leak at the KPC.—White Star

KARACHI: The Chinese government is trying its best to control and prevent Coronavirus from spreading. Experts think that it may go away by the end of March.

This was claimed by Chinese Consul General Li Bijian at a ‘Meet the Press’ programme organised by the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday evening.

Mr Bijian began his address by requesting all who were present at the venue to observe a one-minute silence to honour the memory of those who have lost their precious lives to the virus and to the gas leakage in Karachi.

Mr Bijian thanked the reporters in Pakistan who have been supporting the Pak-China relations in hard and happy times. The Chinese people always regard Pakistanis as their brothers and sisters, he remarked.

The consul general said we are living in a time where China is faced with an epidemic. By today the virus has caused more than 2,000 deaths and more than 60,000 people have contracted it. Ever since its outbreak, under the leadership of the Chinese government, the Chinese people are trying their best to deal with the crisis. And the government is handling it in a transparent and responsible way.

‘We treat them [the Pakistani students] as our own children’

Mr Bijian said as soon as the government understood the danger of the virus, it took measures to control it, especially Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, has made a huge sacrifice, “because if you let people move, you cannot control it. That’s the price they’ve paid.”

He told journalists that during this period China has fought two battles: one in Wuhan, and the other outside of it. Progress has been made. The people who have been released from hospitals outnumber those who have contracted it. Now experts in China say it will come down in two weeks from the epicentre and the rest of China. “It may be over by end of March.”

He said because of the outbreak of the virus the local authorities have taken measures to close down some communities which have caused huge problems for the whole society and for the economy. So now the central and provincial governments are faced with a couple of tasks: control and prevent people from contracting the virus and restart production in factories. Experts believe that if the epidemic comes to a stop by March, the damage to the Chinese and world economies will be limited.

Mr Bijian said the issue is of public health security. The whole world is affected by it. Nationals of 25 countries have contracted it. The Chinese government is trying its best not to let it spread beyond its borders. There are more than 50,000 Pakistanis studying and working in China. In Wuhan there are 500 students who have relatives back in Pakistan.

“At the time of the outbreak we had a problem whether to evacuate [them] or keep them there. It was a difficult decision.” He said the Pakistani government took a decision not to bring them back because: 1) there are better facilities for the students in China; 2) from the beginning the government of China has been providing them with protection equipment; and 3) it has been providing whatever assistance the students need such as halal food. “We treat them as our own children.”

The consul general said it’s his first visit to the KPC. There is a big number of reporters in China, and journalists there have associations as well. Mr Bijian wants to provide a platform for interaction and exchange of visits between the two sides of journalists. This year they will invite one delegation of the KPC to visit China.

After his talk the floor was opened for a question and answer session.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2020