Wednesday, February 26, 2020

China's Quarantine Moves Need Understanding
Global Times
2020/2/26 22:38:40

Pedestrians wear face masks amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Staff members disinfect a market in Daegu, South Korea, February 23, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

The city of Weihai, East China's Shandong Province, has announced that foreigners and Chinese nationals who departed from Japan or South Korea would be sent to hotels for a 14-day mandatory quarantine starting Tuesday. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Tuesday described the move as "excessive." Her statement is understandable. China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed China's empathy.

As a Chinese media outlet, we propose that all places in China, including but not limited to Weihai, should regard people's security as the top priority and quarantine all personnel from countries seriously affected by the coronavirus epidemic. This is not a diplomatic issue, but epidemic prevention.

Local governments and communities should ensure people who come from countries severely hit by the epidemic are brought into the local epidemic prevention and control system. People from abroad must not be the special ones going beyond the system.

China reported five new confirmed cases outside of Hubei Province on Tuesday, the second consecutive day with a single-digit number, while 26 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have realized zero new infections.

All the Chinese people have paid their price for the hard-earned achievement, and the Chinese economy has suffered huge losses. It is the Chinese people's desire to consolidate such an achievement. No one will be forgiven for dereliction that leads to the resurgence of the epidemic. One crucial task to achieve such a goal is to prevent overseas infections from entering China.

Frankly, we were not feeling comfortable when some other countries issued a travel ban on the Chinese nationals, yet we understood that those countries wanted to protect themselves. However, we won't forget how certain Western countries' high-level officials, senators, and mainstream media outlets have added insult to injury to China.

South Korea and Japan are praised for their friendly attitudes toward China during the COVID-19 outbreak. The two countries supported China via both words and actions. In the meantime, they also limited people-to-people exchanges with China. The Chinese people simply understand this.

China has taken corresponding measures according to the epidemic situation in some countries. We believe the measures will eventually be understood. As long as we keep communicating with the South Korean and Japanese governments, have a good attitude toward those who are quarantined and provide sincere support within our ability, these measures will not harm the long-term relationships between China and the two countries.

At the moment, if China keeps its doors wide open to people departing from South Korea and Japan, giving them preferential treatment which could help them easily break through China's prevention and control network, China will hardly be respected by the two countries.

The sudden outbreak of the epidemic shows how real the view is that China, Japan and South Korea share huge common interests. Weihai's quarantine measure is an extension of China's internal quarantine system and it is unnecessary and unrealistic to politicize it. The three countries should jointly overcome difficulties, and we should be able to reach a firm consensus on it.

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