Yao Fei, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Spain. (Photo: Global Times)
Since March, the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has been in constant flux, while the situation in China continues to improve with the production resuming and people's lives returning to normal. Europe has become the new virus epicenter.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Spain has climbed rapidly from more than 100 cases at the beginning of this month to nearly 50,000 cases on March 26, with more than 3,600 deaths attributed to the outbreak. Spain's situation has become one of the worst in the world.
We will never forget the full understanding, firm support and sincere wishes offered by the Spanish government and people during the most difficult time in China's fight against its pandemic; We will never forget the claim of Spain's King Felipe VI and the President of the Government Pedro Sanchez that "people is not a virus, xenophobia is."
We will never forget the encouraging letter from Julio César Alonso from Spain to Chinese soldiers, or a personal video from Noel Sirerol, a Spanish student in China, outlining the real situation of China's fight against the virus. We will never forget the countless letters from ordinary people in Spain, which have brought courage and warmth to our hearts.
In China, we say, "A drop of water given in need shall be returned with a burst of spring." As Spain is facing the challenge of the pandemic, it is our responsibility to give a helping hand.
On March 21, Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote to King Felipe VI to express China's sincere condolences to the Spanish government and people.
In a phone call with Spanish President of the Government Sanchez on March 17, President Xi Jinping stressed that China is willing to do its best to provide support and help in response to the urgent needs of Spain, so as to contribute to the health and well-being of the peoples of both countries, as well as to global public health and security.
The foreign ministers of both countries also exchanged of views on cooperation to prevent and control the pandemic.
Chinese health experts held a video conference with their Spanish counterparts to share their experience in the prevention and control, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The Chinese government, enterprises, NGOs and individuals have taken actions to provide Spain with much-needed medical supplies and equipment.
The Spanish royal family has publicly expressed its gratitude to relevant Chinese bodies. The Spanish Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Health have thanked China for its material assistance many times, and tens of thousands of netizens have enthusiastically shared these thanks on the embassy's social network accounts.
We have more than 200,000 Chinese citizens in Spain. When their motherland encountered difficulties, they actively donated money and materials. As Spain now grapples with its own outbreak, they have also donated disinfectant, masks and other materials to local police and hospitals, actions which have been applauded by locals.
The Chinese Embassy in Spain has long been concerned about the situation and difficulties of Chinese citizens amid the pandemic.
Since the beginning of March, more than 60 messages have been posted on the embassy's official WeChat account and website, reminding local Chinese people to strengthen their vigilance, look at the pandemic objectively and practice good personal protection, and recommending remote medical guidance.
The embassy has also set up a special hotline, answering thousands of calls and letters every day to reassure Chinese citizens in the country, guiding them through local medical treatment and follow up treatment processes.
We set up a special WeChat group for local Chinese citizens who have tested positive for the virus and invited eight doctors to answer questions. We have also held two video conferences with Chinese student representatives in Spain and the dean of the Confucius Institute to answer questions of concern one by one, telling them, "Don't be afraid, the embassy is with you."
The embassy has also fully mobilized resources to send masks and other materials to hundreds of foreign students with special difficulties.
Amid the pandemic, economic exchanges and trade between China and Spain have been inevitably affected. At present, China's exports to Spain have dropped 2.2 percent compared with the same period last year.
A number of direct air routes between the two countries have been suspended, international air transport capacity has declined significantly, the uncertainty of cross-border logistics has increased, and the export of Spanish agricultural products to China has been affected.
The normal production activities of Chinese enterprises in Spain have been affected by the gap in the international supply chain.
While urging Chinese enterprises to seriously cooperate with the prevention and control measures of the Spanish government, the embassy has assisted enterprises in promoting coordination with local departments and amplifying the positive effects of the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) between China and Spain.
The Madrid-Yiwu train, a BRI cooperation project, was quickly sent to Spain carrying anti-epidemic materials, the COSCO Shipping Company has maintained its normal shipping schedule, and the Alibaba Express Spain platform has begun to expand its inventory of local goods and increased its number of local suppliers.
China has promised it is willing to step up exchanges and cooperation with Spain in a wide range of fields after the pandemic, and will continue to expand its imports of high-quality and traditional products from Spain.
The virus has no national borders. In the face of this severe pandemic, it is difficult for any country to fight alone, and only through unity and cooperation can a final victory be achieved.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Spain. China is willing to join hands with Spain to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, "Sunshine always comes after wind and rain."
We strongly believe that through the test of the pandemic, the friendship between China and Spain will become stronger, and relations between the two countries will usher in a better future.