China, Singapore join hands to confront challenges amid COVID-19 outbreak

2020-05-07 03:21:35 GMT2020-05-07 11:21:35(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

By Wang Lili

SINGAPORE, May 6 (Xinhua) -- As the COVID-19 outbreak have continued to pose grave challenges to many parts of the world, China and Singapore have been working closely together in the battle against the deadly virus.

MUTUAL ASSISTANCE

On Tuesday, the Chinese government and the Red Cross Society of China donated 620,000 face masks to assist in the Singapore government's efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Hong Xiaoyong said the Singaporean government, the Red Cross Society, business communities and people from all walks of life have provided valuable support to China in China's fight against the virus, which shows the sincere friendship between the peoples from both countries.

"We are deeply moved and keep it in mind," the Chinese ambassador added.

As early as Feb. 1, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pointed out that China is doing all it can to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and expressed confidence that China and other countries will work together to win this battle.

The prime minister also stressed that the virus does not respect nationality or race, and the COVID-19 situation should be seen as a public health issue and not as a racial or international diplomatic problem.

On Feb. 4, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the Singapore government will provide seed funding of 1 million Singapore dollars (704,000 U.S. dollars) to support the efforts by the Singapore Red Cross to raise funds to provide humanitarian assistance to the communities in China which had been severely affected by the virus outbreak.

Currently, as the bulk of the COVID-19 patients in Singapore are foreign workers residing in dormitories, the Chinese government has also extended their assistance to those people. On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy provided the Singapore Migrant Workers' Center with supplies including food and soaps, to aid the foreign workers in Singapore who have been isolated as part of the government's efforts to contain the virus outbreak.

On April 1, Vice Minister Luo Zhaohui of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-chaired the virtual China-Singapore Joint Meeting on COVID-19. Both sides agreed to share diagnostic and treatment good practices, explore joint research and development of medicines and vaccines, and provide facilitation and support, as appropriate, to the nationals residing in each other's country on their medical treatment and stay, among others.

BUSINESS COOPERATION

Besides the Singaporean government, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), among many other organizations, have also supported the call of the Singapore Red Cross to render assistance to China.

SBF Chairman Teo Siong Seng said in a statement on Feb. 4 "The business communities in China and Singapore enjoy long-standing and wide-ranging relationship that extends beyond trade. The fight against this virus is not China's alone, but the world's," adding that SBF will rally its members and the Singapore business community to contribute to this effort with the Singapore Red Cross.

Separately, on Feb. 17, SCCCI presented a cheque of 1.1 million Singapore dollars (774,200 U.S. dollars) to the Singapore Red Cross to fund the latter's assistance to China.

The China Enterprises Association (Singapore) (CEA), for its part, has also called on its 670 members to contribute to Singapore's efforts in putting the virus under control. Some members have donated money to the Singapore Migrant Workers' Center, and some have provided anti-pandemic materials such as facial masks, disinfectants and liquid soaps.

SCCCI President Roland Ng said in an interview with CEA staff that the business federations of the two countries can take advantage of the enormous business opportunities in industrial transformation, explore more channels of cooperation and achieve a win-win outcome after the virus is wiped out.

CEA President Cheng Jun noted that a survey conducted among their members showed that about 70 percent of the respondents are confident about Singapore's economic recovery after the end of COVID-19 outbreak. He also expressed belief that the China-Singapore ties will be consolidated in this battle, and the bilateral collaboration will be broadened later on.

EXCHANGES AMID TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Although the COVID-19 outbreak and travel restrictions prevented face-to-face interactions, 30 Chinese and Singaporean musicians managed to give a heart-warming online performance on Tuesday. The music lovers, teachers as well as conductors from both countries played erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument, to perform Chinese musician Liu Tianhua's masterpiece -- "Guang Ming Xing" (heading for the light).

Called "Chinese Music Without Borders," the session was hosted by the Singapore Chinese Music Federation and co-organized by the Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group, to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-Singapore diplomatic relations.

Wang Yongde, a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, said that the performance embodies the spirit of music without borders and the strength of unity between the two countries.

Earlier in mid April, the Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group also co-organized an online forum grouping renowned Chinese medical experts Zhang Wenhong and Li Lanjuan and their two Singaporean counterparts, to exchange views on the virus protection and control practices of the two countries.

Equally noteworthy, countless ordinary peoples in the two countries have done their parts in jointly fighting the virus.

When Wang Quancheng, head of the Singapore Hua Yuan Association, coordinated the association's donation of personal protective supplies to the medical workers in China in early February, he did not anticipate he would receive some from the Chinese side later on.

His association, grouping new immigrants from China to Singapore, was presented in April 10,000 medical facial masks from Xiamen city in southeast China's Fujian Province.

Prior to this, Wang and his clan members had managed to send 40,000 facial masks and 40,000 medical gloves, as well as goggles and protective garments, to Xiamen and other Chinese cities.

The Hua Yuan Association was a vivid example of mutual assistance between the peoples from both countries. According to local media reports, the Tung Ann District Guild of Singapore had also donated face masks to Xiamen, and later received face masks from Xiamen in return. 

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