By Ding Gang
Since the COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, many countries have evacuated their citizens from Hubei. Over the past few years, these foreigners came to China to work, study and visit their relatives. Most of them have participated in China’s development and have become part of it. Now they have no alternative but to return home. The epidemic has interrupted their normal life, and some have even contracted the deadly disease. We should show our affection and tell those foreigners: “Sorry, we have always been thinking of you.”
Since reform and opening-up began in 1978, China’s interaction with the outside world has accelerated and China’s development has become increasingly fascinating and has attracted many foreigners to study, work and live in China. Many of them have achieved their own dreams with the help of China’s fast development, and in return many have contributed to the country’s development. Their relations with Chinese people are now like those of close neighbors. Many of these foreigners regard China as their home or at least their second hometown. After having been repatriated to the US, an American teacher was quoted as saying; “I miss my friends in China.”
Chinese authorities have offered timely and effective assistance in the repatriation of foreign nationals. Foreigners who have remained in Wuhan are being taken good care of. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on February 20 thanked China for the thoughtful care and help provided to Pakistani nationals in China.
Since China’s reform and opening-up, ordinary Chinese people have an increasingly better understanding of foreigners. It’s now rare for a foreigner to be surrounded by curious bystanders on a street. In many Chinese cities, a foreigner is just another neighbor or a colleague.
Chinese people have also become more international. Chinese businesspeople, workers, companies and tourists can be found in every corner of the world. This may be the foundation for building a community of a shared future for mankind.
How Chinese people treat foreigners is a window through which foreigners see and understand China and the Chinese people. No one in the world wants to see the outbreak of an epidemic, but the difficulties facing Chinese people are the world’s difficulties too. When we are confronted with common challenges, we must join hands. Chinese people should send condolences to the afflicted and offer a thank-you to those who have helped China in its virus control and preventive work.
In early February, a Japanese girl wearing a traditional Chinese dress called a qipao and carrying a donation box in chilly Tokyo, helped to raise money for Wuhan’s fight against the coronavirus, which touched the heart of many Chinese netizens. They called her “the most beautiful Japanese girl.”
Currently, the Chinese people are fighting the epidemic and many governments and their people have lent a helping hand. We will not forget their assistance. We will not forget those foreigners who had to temporarily leave Wuhan and China and hope they will come back when the epidemic is over.
Please always keep in your mind: China is a tolerant and open-minded big power, so are its people.
The author is a senior editor with People’s Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina
Illustration: Liu Rui from Global Times
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