Pakistan’s decision not to evacuate students ‘difficult but good’ – Chinese diplomat

China’s Consul General in Karachi Li Bijian is addressing “Meet the Press” at the Karachi Press Club on February 20, 2020. (Photo AN)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistan’s decision not to evacuate students ‘difficult but good’ – Chinese diplomat

  • We are treating Pakistani students are as our own children, says Li Bijian
  • Repatriation of more than 50,000 Pakistanis from China may trigger another outbreak

KARACHI: The Chinese consul general in Karachi on Thursday said that Pakistan had taken “a very difficult but good decision” by not bringing back its nationals residing in China after the coronavirus outbreak.

“To evacuate or keep them there is a very difficult decision, and your government has made a tough choice by not bringing them back,” China’s top diplomat in Karachi, Li Bijian, said while addressing ‘Meet the Press’ program organized by the Karachi Press Club.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday spoke to President Xi Jinping about the spread of coronavirus on the telephone. 

The conversation between the two leaders took place a day after parents of Pakistani students in China gave a three-day deadline to the government to evacuate their children from the coronavirus-hit country.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza had announced the government’s decision not to evacuate Pakistani citizens stranded in China in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization on January 30.
“The students are availing better facilities in China,” said the Chinese diplomat. “Our government is providing them everything they need to protect them from the virus. They are also getting the best assistance free of cost, including halal food. We are treating them like our own children.”

Bijian informed that more than 50,000 Pakistani workers and students were living in China and their repatriation could trigger another outbreak.

“The movement of people is highly restricted in China and, if you bring them back, there would be a risk of spread of the virus. The return of 50,000 people would also put a huge health pressure on your government and may cause an outbreak in this country,” he warned.

The Chinese consul general said that 6,000 foreign students, including 500 Pakistanis, were still living in Wuhan.

“Four students contracted the virus but they were released from the hospital about a week ago. Parents of Pakistani students worry about their safety which is understandable, but we can assure them that their children are in safe hands,” he added.

The death toll from coronavirus surpassed 2,000 this week. According to reports, more than 75,000 people have been infected by the virus, with over 1,000 cases outside mainland China.

“Ever since the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese government and people have joined hands to fight the outbreak. The government has been very open, transparent and responsible while dealing with the problem,” the Chinese diplomat said.

Bijian was confident that his government would completely overcome the spread of the virus by the end of March 2020 as measures taken by the government were showing good results.

Chinese doctors, coronavirus relief supplies arrive in Pakistan

Updated 28 March 2020

Chinese doctors, coronavirus relief supplies arrive in Pakistan

  • FM Qureshi received the medical team at Islamabad airport
  • Chinese government and private donations for coronavirus relief includes test kits, PPE, face masks and funding support for an isolation hospital

ISLAMABAD: A special plane from China carrying an eight member medical team and relief assistance for Pakistan’s fight against the coronavirus touched down in Islamabad on Saturday, according to state-owned Radio Pakistan.
The novel coronavirus first broke out in China’s Hubei province late last year, and was declared a global pandemic by the WHO in January 2020. To date, it has claimed about 28,000 deaths around the world with surging rates of infection.
Through stringent containment measures, China was able to stem virus cases on its soil, and this week, the original epicenter of the deadly outbreak, Wuhan City, relaxed lockdown measures for the first time in months. Pakistan’s current cases of the infection stand at roughly 1,400 with 11 people dead and the numbers rising every day. Partial lockdowns have been imposed in some provinces.
China’s state assistance to its western neighbor so far includes 12,000 test kits, 300,000 face masks, 10,000 protective suits for health care workers on the disease front-lines, as well as funding support to build an isolation hospital, according to the foreign office.
The medical team from China are experts in dealing with the coronavirus and will remain in Pakistan for two weeks, the foreign office said. FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi personally received the Chinese medial experts at Islamabad airport.
“We are grateful, this is a unique relationship. And such times tell us how close we are to each other,” Qureshi said at the event.
Additionally, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Foundation and the Ali Baba foundation have donated 50,000 test kits and 500,000 face masks to Pakistan, the foreign office said.
Through the Khunjerab Pass earlier this week, China also provided over two tons of masks, test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment. Pakistan has also been the recipient of considerable private donations from China.
Earlier this month, President Arif Alvi and a contingent of high level officials including FM Qureshi visited Beijing to express solidarity with China in its fight against the virus.