Thursday, February 27, 2020

Epidemic Won’t Drive China, South Korea Apart
Global Times
2020/2/27 23:18:40

Photo taken on January 29, 2020 shows masks donated by South Korean city of Cheonan to Weihai City in east China's Shandong Province, at Incheon International Airport, South Korea. Photo: Xinhua

The mandatory quarantine measures will not drive a wedge between China and South Korea. Some speculations about this are exaggerated. Some people may find it hard to adapt to the situation in the beginning, but this move will only cause a limited negative impact.

The coronavirus epidemic in South Korea is raging. In the 24 hours before Thursday afternoon, South Korea reported 505 new confirmed cases, bringing its total infected cases to 1,766, far exceeding the total infections in any province of China outside Hubei Province.

So far, 21 countries and regions have completely restricted the entry of travelers who recently visited Daegu and a nearby county of Cheongdo, and another 21 have strengthened quarantine measures for South Korean travelers. China is among the latter group. Many provinces in China have recently begun requiring people arriving from South Korea to be quarantined for 14 days without distinction of nationality.

China has stepped up anti-infection measures against newcomers from South Korea. This is something South Koreans can anticipate. After comparing the measures taken by the two countries, some South Koreans found China's are more stringent than that of their country. But this is only their impression.

South Korea has completely banned people from Hubei Province from entering. But some provinces of China have only started to quarantine South Korean travelers, and epidemic situations in regions other than Hubei Province in China are far less severe than that of South Korea. Thus, it's hard to say China's attitude toward South Korea is tougher.

It can be said that South Korea was friendly to China when epidemic broke out in the latter, and China is now friendly to South Korea. After some 40 countries and regions have taken steps against the South Korean epidemic, China has joined in.

More countries are likely to follow, and the US will hardly remain unmoved. The Chinese mainland is unlikely to be among countries and regions with the most rigorous conditions for entry for South Koreans.

Some South Korean media outlets and netizens have been complaining about China in the past days. Some people in the country always like to find fault with China. It's not necessary for us to take it to heart.

The epidemic in South Korea has been developing rapidly. Most of the countries that prohibited Chinese from entering will soon ban South Koreans. But China has the conditions and ability to provide South Korea with pragmatic experience and support. The epidemic will bring China-South Korea ties and people-to-people relations closer instead of becoming a trigger for more questions between the two countries.

As the situation in South Korea becomes severe, China will adopt more measures to reduce contact between people from the two countries, but will not ban all South Koreans from entering its border.

China has set up a powerful epidemic prevention system and is experienced in detecting and isolating people from epidemic areas. As China's situation eases, it will have spare resources and can offer help to South Korea when needed. 

As long as Chinese society is sincere and adopts reasonable measures, it does not need to worry if South Koreans will be sensitive to them. Even if they are, China does not have to feel bothered.

Chinese people cherish China-South Korea relations, but also prioritize safety of Chinese people. We will treat South Koreans coming to China and the Chinese people squarely. There is little room for misunderstanding.

Any preventive measures against people from foreign soils should not be extreme and radical. Online pictures show that residential communities in some cities in Shandong Province have put up banners that ban people from South Korea and Japan, which is disgusting and must be stopped.

Such discriminatory actions are a shame on the communities, and even cities. Internationalized cities in China must withstand the test and prove that their sense of morality is in line with material growth.

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