28 March 2020
XI-TRUMP CALL HELPS EASE TENSIONS
President Xi Jinping on Friday urged united efforts between China and the United States to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump, Xi said bilateral relations are now at a critical juncture, and both nations stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation and that cooperation is the only correct choice for both sides.
He called upon joint efforts from both sides to bolster cooperation in areas such as epidemic containment and developing a China-US relationship featuring non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
China has consistently shared information on COVID-19−including its genetic sequence−with the World Health Organization and countries including the US in an open, transparent and responsible manner since the start of the pandemic, Xi said.
The country has also shared its experience in epidemic containment and medical treatment and done its best to support and help countries in need of assistance, he said.
China will continue to do so and work together with the international community to overcome the pandemic, Xi added.
The virus respects no borders or ethnicities and is a common enemy to mankind, and therefore it requires a joint global response to conquer it, he said.
Xi noted that positive outcomes were reached in the G20 Extraordinary Leaders' Summit on Thursday, and different parties must step up coordination and cooperation to ensure implementation of the outcomes.
China stands ready to work with all parties, including the US, to continue to support the important role of the WHO, step up information and experience sharing, accelerate steps in research and development cooperation and promote the betterment of global health governance, he added.
He also underlined the importance of more coordinated macroeconomic policies to stabilize markets and growth and to guarantee public wellbeing while ensuring the openness, stability and security of global supply chains.
Xi said he is deeply concerned and worried about the development of the pandemic in the US, and it is the sincere hope of the Chinese people that the US can control the spread of the virus at an early date and reduce losses among its people.
He said China understands the current predicament of the US over the outbreak and stands ready to provide support within its capacity.
Xi expressed his hope that the US side can adopt concrete measures to protect the safety and health of Chinese citizens, including students, in the US.
The conversation between the two presidents came as data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed the US surpassed China in confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday.
Trump said he is glad to see the positive epidemic containment progress in China, and China's experience in combating the virus has been very inspiring to him.
The US president said he will make sure that the two countries can overcome disturbances and stay focused on epidemic containment cooperation.
He also voiced appreciation to China for providing medical supplies, saying the two countries must bolster exchanges in healthcare and cooperation in the R&D of effective pharmaceuticals.
Trump went on to say that he has said publicly on social media that the US people very much respect and love the Chinese people, and overseas students from China are very important to US education, adding that the US side will ensure the protection of Chinese citizens, including students.
Trump said on social media following the phone call that the conversation was "very good" and that "China has been through much and has developed a strong understanding of the virus. We are working closely together."
ONLINE TEACHING IN TIME OF HEALTH CRISIS
The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the education of about 300 million students across the world. More than 190 countries have reported an increase in confirmed cases, and over 160 countries have shut down schools nationwide. Which means the pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge to the education system and could change our idea of education from in-person teaching in brick-and-mortar classes on campuses to online classes.
China was the first country to order the closure of schools and universities in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in late January. Initially, the Ministry of Education ordered all schools to defer their reopening date after the winter vacation, shifting the new semester from mid-January to mid-February. But even at the end of March, it is still uncertain when the schools would reopen, because the decision still rests on when the epidemic would be contained.
However, despite the schools not reopening, the ministry has said that children's education should not be disrupted. As a result, almost all schools started distance teaching and learning in late February according to the normal national academic calendar. And in two to three weeks, solutions to many education-related problems, from the local to the national levels, started emerging. The entire country has turned into a living lab for distance learning enabled by information and communication technology (ICT).
The informatization of education over the years faces a serious test. In China, informatization of education also means raising the digital literacy rate while applying ICT to develop digital learning resources.
As part of its national anti-epidemic strategy, the Ministry of Education mobilized the educational network from the national to the local levels to offer recorded teaching programs online while requiring each educational institution to make its plan according to the local situation. And for the university sector, the ministry required 22 Chinese online learning platforms to provide all their learning materials for free, including 24,000 video-recorded tertiary-level courses across 30 disciplines.
INTER-COUNTY RELOCATION GRANTS FOR A LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLD
Luoqiu, a mountainous village in depths of Qipan Mountain, is one of the most remote communities in Yongshan county, Southwest China's Yunnan province.
Dozens of households in the village are scattered on both sides of a crumbling road. 54-year-old Yan Fugao and his wife Wang Daxiang have been living in this village for more than 20 years. Viewed afar from the roof of his house, light breeze flits the Jinsha River and the Daliang Mountain across it.
In 2014, Yan's family was identified as low-income household. At the end of 2017, Luoqiu village was designated as a pilot area for the government's poverty alleviation relocation program.
The villagers who are deemed as low-income families will be relocated to Maojiawan in Ludian county where the government sets up several poverty alleviation resettlement areas.
On March 14, the couple set off from Luoqiu village, and the next morning, with other 101 households in Daxing town, they headed toward their new home 190 kilometers away. It was with this extraordinary procession trooping at the couple's heels down the deep, winding road that they finally arrived at Maojiawan after five hours.
These villagers who used to carry baskets in the ravine now live in new buildings with an elevator.
As they looked up, their new houses blurred in vision, glinting where a ray of sunshine touched them.
CHINESE OVERSEAS ADVISED BY PHYSICIANS FROM HOME
Chinese medical experts have been working to provide medical information online to citizens stranded overseas as the pandemic accelerates its spread globally.
In Shanghai, Zhang Wenhong, leader of the Shanghai team of experts in the treatment of COVID-19 cases, answered questions online from Chinese in the United States on Thursday night. Zhang was invited by China Central Television to join a livestream with four Chinese in New York and California, Utah and Washington, respectively.
The show, which lasted for nearly two hours, got millions of views on social media. Zhang, also head of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, answered questions such as when will cases peak in the US, how to protect yourself, whether to wear a mask and should they return to China.
"It's hard to predict the turning point for the rising cases of infection in the United States because it'll depend on implementation of social distancing and other quarantine policies. The peak might come as early as in 10 to 14 days, but it could also come late, after four weeks."Zhang said, adding that the later it comes, the heavier the burden it will place on the US medical system.
The number of coronavirus infections in the US reached 85,996 on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, overtaking China to become the country with most cases.
Zhang said he thinks the best preventative practice for the public is to stay at home and to avoid physical social gathering.
"Close contact is the main cause of contracting the disease. That's why the infection happened mostly within family members in China, and that also explains why young people, who love to be social, have relatively higher infection rates in the US," he said.
In reply to questions about medicine, he said, "the best 'drugs' to treat COVID-19 are water, eggs, milk and sleep," he quipped. He warned people not to buy hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, medications for malaria and arthritis that are experimental for treating COVID-19 patients, because they haven't been proved effective in clinical trials and might have serious side effects.
Zhang also answered worries about Americans not wearing masks. Zhang said so long as people practice social distancing and avoiding social gatherings, wearing a mask is not necessary.
"It's more of a cultural issue, and if you cannot change others' behavior you have to adjust yourselves," he said.
In Europe, Chinese people living in Italy, a country hit hard by the outbreak, heard practical suggestions about self-protection from front-line doctors from China. A medical team of 12 experts from Zhejiang province arrived in Milan, Italy, on March 18. The team gave a one-hour online lecture to overseas Chinese on Wednesday.
More than 1,200 people, mostly Chinese students in Italy, listened via the internet and interacted with the doctors.
Qiu Yunqing, the leader of the Zhejiang medical team in Italy and executive vice-president of First Affiliated Hospital of the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, said the best way to minimize the risk of being infected by the coronavirus is to stay at home.
Qiu advised Chinese people overseas not to rush back to China unless the trip is absolutely necessary.
"The risk of coronavirus infection could be higher on the way to China than at home," Qiu said.
CHINA PUTS MAJOR RESTRICTIONS ON INBOUND AIR TRAVEL
China was compelled to temporarily suspend entry into the country of foreign passport holders with valid visas or residence permits in order to deal with the spread of COVID-19, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday.
"We also took into account the practices of many other countries," Geng said at a regular news conference in Beijing.
He said China will stay in close touch with all parties and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world.
The suspension, announced on Thursday night, will take effect on Saturday, and will also apply to the entry of foreign nationals holding Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business travel cards.
Policies−including port visas, 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit, Hainan 30-day visa-free privileges, 15-day visa-free privileges specified for foreign cruise-group tours via Shanghai Port, Guangdong 144-hour visa-free privileges for foreign tour groups from Hong Kong or Macao special administrative regions and Guangxi 15-day visa-free privileges specified for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries−will also be temporarily suspended, according to an announcement jointly issued by the ministry and the National Immigration Administration.
Foreign nationals arriving with diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected.
According to the announcement, foreign nationals wishing to come to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities−or in extreme humanitarian cases−may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates as per usual practice.
Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected, it said, adding that the above-mentioned measures will be adjusted in light of the evolving situation.
Also, on Thursday night, the Civil Aviation Administration of China decided that China will slash the number of international flights in and out of the country in a bid to contain imported cases.
Effective Sunday, domestic airlines will be required to reduce their international routes to only one per country and cap the number of flights to and from each country to no more than one flight per week, while foreign carriers can maintain only one air route to China and operate no more than one flight a week, according to a notice issued by the administration.
"But we will maintain the minimum number of flights per route to ensure the continuous operation of international flights," the administration said later in another statement.
After the adjustment, the number of weekly flights to and from China will drop to around 130.
According to the administration, as airlines are required to limit passenger capacity on international flights to 75 percent to curb cross-infection risk, the number of inbound air travelers is expected to drop from the current 25,000 per day to 5,000, it said.
It also noted that it might implement even further reductions to inbound and outbound international flights in line with the country's virus prevention and control needs.
Though all inbound charter fights have been suspended since Tuesday, the administration said it will arrange temporary flights or charter flights to bring back Chinese nationals when conditions permit.
SUBWAYS IN WUHAN RESUME OPERATIONS
Wuhan in Hubei province, the city hit hardest by the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak on the Chinese mainland, resumed operations of its subways on Saturday after a suspension of more than two months due to the epidemic.
Six metro lines started reopening to the public as part of the city's efforts to resume normal production and life as authorities have declared the transmission of the virus in the city has been "basically blocked".
Residents are asked to wear masks to take subways. Before getting into the subway stations, they are also required to scan the QR codes through widely popular mobile apps that are registered by real name so that their travel histories can be tracked. When they get off the train, passengers will have to scan the QR code posted in the carriage again in order to track which carriage they take.
All the measures are designed to easily have access to passengers in case infections are found on the subways, according to the metro system authorities.
Infrared thermometers are installed in the security check area to monitor passengers' temperatures. Those who have normal temperatures are allowed to get in, otherwise they will be subject to further temperature checks or quarantine.
Security employees are sent on every train to guide passengers and provide them with necessary services.
Jin Jing, head of the Hongshan Square Station, said all public areas and facilities in the station have been thoroughly cleaned up and disinfected before the subway restarted operation.
The station has been ready to resume the hustle and bustle by taking additional measures to protect passengers' safety, Jin said.
Wuhan only reported one newly confirmed case of the novel coronavirus disease since March 18. Liu Dongru, deputy head of the provincial health commission, told a news conference on Friday that the city has had its coronavirus risk evaluation downgraded from high risk to medium risk.
According to the risk criteria defined in a guideline issued by China's State Council, cities, counties and districts with no newly confirmed cases in the last 14 days are categorized as low-risk areas. Those with fewer than 50 cases or those with over 50 but without a concentrated outbreak are classified as medium-risk areas. And those with over 50 cases as well as a concentrated outbreak are classified as high-risk areas.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it. - Baltasar Gracian