By Hong Qiuting, People’s Daily
A close Chinese-foreign bond has been forged in Zhanjiang, South China’s Guangdong Province as the city tried every way possible to protect its foreign communities in the COVID-19 pandemic and helped its sister cities overseas tide over the public health crisis.
Sam is a Nigerian who served as a volunteer in a Zhanjiang community. The major service he provided was to communicate with African residents in the community so as to keep them informed of relevant notices and epidemic development.
“I convey confidence and kindness to them, in different languages,” said Sam, who speaks good Nigerian and English.
For the man who has worked in the city for over 10 years, Zhanjiang is his second hometown.
Sam joined the volunteer service after seeing a recruitment notice of Zhanjiang Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs. His wife, who’s a local in the city, helped him fill the application form. Both of them submitted the applications, which were both approved later.
Through online and offline training, the two learned necessary knowledge about COVID-19 prevention and control, as well as relevant policies.
“I’ve long taken Zhanjiang as my home, and I’m glad to help more people here,” he told the People’s Daily, adding that he has always wanted to do something for the city.
A total of 46 volunteers offered services for foreigners in the city during COVID-19, in languages of English, Japanese, Korean, French, and Spanish.
Another 15 will be sent to communities recently under the guidance of the Zhanjiang Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs to get the picture of the life of foreigners after quarantine, ensure their living quality and keep them updated with the epidemic development and the latest control measures.
Apart from the volunteering services, Zhanjiang has also made active efforts to share experiences with its sister city Brovary in Ukraine to jointly fight the epidemic.
After suspected cases of COVID-19 were spotted in Brovary, the city’s mayor Igor Sapozhko sent a letter to Zhanjiang for help, as Brovary was inexperienced in handling with the disease.
Upon receiving the letter, the Zhanjiang Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs immediately organized a video conference, in which experts from the Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University shared response and treatment experiences with their counterparts in Brovary.
Apart from Zhanjiang’s efforts, massive mutual assistance activities have been held by Guangdong and its foreign sister provinces and cities during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Esparza, Costa Rica is a sister city of Guangdong’s Zhuhai, and the overseas Chinese in the South American city this February made generous donations under the call of an octogenarian overseas Chinese named Gu Genhe and the president of the Zhuhai association of overseas Chinese in Costa Rica Gu Zhihong after they learnt that Zhuhai was in short supply of medical materials. On Feb. 2, they raised 126,000 pieces of masks and sourced supply channels of other materials.
However, international flights were grounded due to the epidemic. After rounds of negotiation with the international liaison office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Zhuhai municipal committee to make a feasible shipment plan, Gu Genhe finalized a logistics route at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 10 – sending the supplies from Costa Rica to Hong Kong via Mexico.
Nine days later, the anti-epidemic supplies which embodied the good wishes of numerous overseas Chinese in Costa Rica arrived in Zhuhai, thanks to the efforts of multiple groups including Heung Cheer International Development (Hong Kong) Co., Limited affiliated to Zhuhai Duty Free Enterprises Group Co., Ltd., Zhuhai Tongyu Logistics Co., Ltd., and CKS Container Terminal (Zhuhai Doumen) Co., Ltd.
As of mid-April, cities in Guangdong had sent letters of sympathy to 140 sister cities, and donated anti-epidemic supplies to 90 sister cities.
So far, 17 cities in the province have donated, or are planning to donate 7.3 million face masks, 6,340 forehead thermometers, 25,000 nucleic acid testing kits, 21,880 protective suits, and 111,800 pairs of medical examination gloves to 65 of their sister cities and cities which enjoy friendly ties with them in 48 countries.
So far, a total of 7.3 million face masks, 6,340 forehead thermometers, 25,000 nucleic acid testing kits, 21,880 protective suits, and 111,800 pairs of medical examination gloves have been donated or are under plan by 17 Guangdong cities to their 65 sister cities in 48 countries.
Sam (first on the left) poses for a photo with volunteers and staff members. (Photo: Courtesy of Zhanjiang Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs)