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Statement by Consul-General Dong Zhihua at the Event hosted by ACBC WA Branch "Standing Together-The Impact of COVID-19 in WA"
2020-02-27 15:00

(25 February 2020, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Perth)

Mr. Adam Handley, President of ACBC WA Branch,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure to join you today and I wish to thank Adam and ACBC WA Branch for organizing this event, while the theme is the impact of COVID-19 in WA, I think it is another kind gesture of ACBC in solidarity with China and the Chinese people, in addition to the terrific short video you sent us, which was also circulated around in Chinese social media even though it was not in the one we demonstrate at the Consulate’s briefing last Thursday.

I would like to start by a brief update of the latest situation in China. China reported 77,658 infections in total, the total number of cured cases is 27,323 as of 24:00 February 24. The situation is getting better and positive momentum is consolidating. 24 out of 31 provinces, regions and municipalities in China reported zero increase of daily confirmed cases. This morning six provinces or counties have down graded the emergency level. The number of cured cases nationwide per day has far exceeded that of newly confirmed cases. The epidemic in Hubei Province is also under effective control.

But we cannot afford to relax and we must remain on high alert. Also on Sunday, President Xi Jinping held an unprecedented tele-conference, during which he stressed that "No victory should be lightly announced until there is a complete win."Some 170,000 officials from top leadership to county-level across the nation attended the meeting via videophone, which was truly a historic and remarkable event of political governance not only for China but also for the world.

President Xi delivered an important speech at the meeting and pointed out that the disease is an unprecedentedly serious public health incident since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. In spite of the positive trend in the prevention and control work, the epidemic situation remains grim and complex and it is now a most crucial moment to curb the spread. Xi called for Party committees and governments at all levels to continue to make unremitting efforts in epidemic prevention and control, with Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan at the core, and the national capital Beijing as a priority.

The epidemic will inevitably deal a relatively big blow to China's economic and social development, but it will be temporary and generally manageable. The fundamentals of China's long-term sound economic growth remain unchanged. President Xi underscored efforts to push for the resumption of work and production with precise epidemic prevention and control strategies, while smoothing travels and logistics channels and lifting cargo transport bans to push all links in the industrial chains to resume work and production in a coordinated way.

He stressed strengthening the regulation role of macro-economic policies, calling for more positivity in proactive fiscal policy and more targeted interim policies in cutting taxes and fees to help micro, small and medium-sized firms tide over difficulties. The government will step up efforts to keep employment stable, with all-round measures to cut corporate burdens, keep the payroll stable, and create more jobs. And we will resolutely accomplish the task of alleviating poverty despite the impact of the epidemic.

We will actively expand effective domestic demand, fast-track the progress of projects under construction and new ones, as well as enhance guarantees for labor, land, funds and other production factors. In the meantime, we will ensure the timely agriculture work in spring and address the protruding issues in spring farming preparation. People's basic livelihood will be guaranteed, such as the supply of staple and non-staple food. We will keep the foreign trade and investment stable, through tools like export tax rebates and export credit insurances to ensure smooth operation of foreign trade industrial chains and supply chains.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Chinese nation has experienced many ordeals in its history, but it has never been overwhelmed. Instead, we grow up and rise up from the hardships. The battle against the epidemic is a people’s war which gives full play to the huge mobilization capacity of the Chinese system under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. The bad times show the best of people, 4oooo medical workers across the country are working in the front line of Hubei, tens of thousands of volunteers are helping with the transportation and delivery of medical supplies and daily necessities. Community workers are knocking door to door to ensure no one is left unattended and no suspected cases unaccounted. People across the country and overseas Chinese rush in to make cash and in-kind donations. Foreigners in China are taken good care of. This is a time for solidarity and humanity. The dedication and sacrifice of people from all walks of life make the Chinese people more united than ever, which is something the Western media ignore or refuse to tell.

The resilience and vitality of the Chinese economy cannot be underestimated and we will come out of this crisis with new growth point, great leaps in some new sectors one can never imagine, and improvement in governance and public health system. We will meet our economic and social development goals this year with determination and all out efforts.

We appreciate the compassion and support by the government and people of WA. You are all very familiar with the story of Premier McGowan and his ministers inviting myself and leaders from the Chinese community to dine out in the Chinese resturants. I assume you have all read the article by FMG Chairman and CEO on the West Australian. I think it takes courage for them to stand out and call people to show support to China.

In Chinese culture we believe that out of crisis arises opportunity. This is a time for you to show that China is not just a customer, but friends and fellow human beings, in spite of the differences in our social system, culture or even race. In those videos I sent to the state media based in the eastern coast, I tried to convey the compassion and solidarity of the Western Australian government and people towards China and the Chinese people. That in itself raise the visibility of WA and let the Chinese people see the other side of Australia in spite of the sudden announcement of entry ban which caused so much confusion and trouble for Chinese students, who maybe leaving their parents and stepping on a foreign land by themselves for the first time.

In terms of the impact in WA, our interests are so intertwined we have no other choice but standing together to endure the hardship together. In the following discussion, I hope you could try to find out the hidden opportunities and focus on what we can do to make good preparations once the epidemic is over, instead of concentrating on the loss brought by the crisis itself. There will be a quick and big rebound in consumption once things are back to normal and pent-up demand fully released. Is WA prepared for that. What you can do to offset the difficulties on our bilateral relations caused by policies at the federal level.

A helping hand at difficult times will be cherished and the Chinese are a grateful nation. We don’t expect you to donate like the Chinese community or the big mining companies. There are small things that warm people’s heart, like going out to a Chinese resturant, a message in the social media, a small function in your community.

I look forward to working with you to make WA-China ties stronger and closer out of this difficult time.

I thank you.

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