Chinese communities overseas donate for locals, expect better relations after epidemic

By GT staff reporters Published: 2020/3/27 0:44:42

Children from a Chinese community of Bologna, Italy show their artwork Photo: Courtesy of Chinese youth volunteers

Chinese communities overseas have been working with people in China to help gather donations for other countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of confirmed cases outside China are increasing fast. 

More than 82,400 confirmed cases have been reported in the US as of Friday, which made the US surpass China with most cases worldwide. Many hospitals in the US reported shortages of medical supplies. 

Chinese living in the US are actively engaging in helping with prevention of the virus - donating money,  supplies and seeking materials from China to support medical staff in the US, Xu Chen, Chairman of The China General Chamber of Commerce-USA (CGCC), and President and CEO of the Bank of China USA, told the Global Times.

CGCC and its foundation have been raising donations for Hubei since January 23, sending five batches of medical supplies worth of 600,000 yuan ($84,500). As the pandemic situation in the US becomes more severe, CGCC and its foundations have been playing an active role in coordinating resources in China and the US to buy qualified medical supplies and donate them to US public hospitals, Xu said. 

CGCC is also collecting information on sources of medical supplies in China and sharing it with hospitals and local governments in the US.

CGCC has mainly supported hospitals in the New York Metropolitan Area which faces urgent shortages of medical resources. It also helps medical branches in New Jersey and the state of Connecticut, mostly populous areas that have been hit hard by COVID-19. 

The pandemic has severely threatened people's health and brought social panic. Many people in the international community agree that it is important for all countries to work together. 

"However, what's surprising is that some US politicians are focusing on using every opportunity to stigmatize China, aiming to pass the buck and shift people's attention. Their remarks have caused a social split and conflict among different races and ethnic groups, which affects prevention work of COVID-19," Xu said. 

Children from a Chinese community of Bologna, Italy show their artwork Photo: Courtesy of Chinese youth volunteers

Chinese citizens and overseas Chinese in the US are doing their part for the community and doing whatever they can to help overcome current difficulties, Xu said.

Wuhan University alumni associations in Chinese cities issued a statement calling for donations to North America and Europe as countries in both regions are combating COVID-19. 

"We still remember when medical personnel in Wuhan were in shortage of medical supplies, our alumni overseas offered to help and sent medical supplies. Now, the epidemic is rampant overseas, so we are raising donations for them," the statement said. 

One Wuhan University alumni association member in Beijing told the Global Times they are communicating with fellow alumni in the US to learn about the protective medical equipment supplies that are needed so they can be sent to hospitals. 

Chinese doctors in the UK issued a bilingual statement in Chinese and English at Addenbrooke's Hospital, calling for donations.

Li, a Chinese-British man in London, told the Global Times that many Chinese are engaged in coordinating donations from China to the UK, aiming to help with shortages of face masks, protective gear, goggles and gloves. 

"We do this out of concern for the pandemic. It is time for all of us to unite," Li said, noting that most people in the UK have always been friendly to the Chinese, although some have still made racist remarks. 

"There will always be some unpleasant voices. What we should do is ignore them and do what we can to help those who need help," Li said. 

Children from a Chinese community of Bologna, Italy show their artwork Photo: Courtesy of Chinese youth volunteers

Beating stigma

In recent months, the Chinese community in Italy has emerged as a significant group. When China was fighting the epidemic, the Chinese community collected supplies to support those in need. However, some experienced misunderstandings, or even discrimination, from a few misguided locals.

Italy is fighting a serious COVID-19 outbreak. Restaurants, businesses and schools have been suspended. Although quarantined at home, many Chinese have chosen to lend their hand in the battle against the pandemic.

Chen, a young volunteer, has organized the Chinese community in Bologna to make donations.

Within 48 hours, Chen and fellow volunteers received 21,731 euros from the local Chinese community, made up of 56 children and 111 adults. The children donated their lucky money they received from their parents or grandparents during the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The money was donated to the Sant'orsola Hospital in Bologna.

The children created 84 pieces of art, showing rainbows, medical personnel, and words, such as "Andrà tutto bene," meaning "everything will be alright" in English. The paintings will be hung in the hospital to comfort patients.

Qiu Nan, who also helped with the donation efforts, told the Global Times that many Chinese people in Italy had shared their spare face masks, which have been in high demand due to shortages, with their neighbors, colleagues, and friends. Some, including Qiu, have handed out face masks to strangers on the street. 

The local Chinese Chamber of Commerce donated 30,000 face masks to local medical institutes, Qiu said.

"Our face masks are purchased and mailed from China," Qiu said and added, "Via local Chinese people, the government here also has been seeking to purchase medical supplies from China."

At the beginning of the pandemic, some Italians were rude and referred to Chinese as a "virus," Qiu said. 

"The voices were targeting Chinese. Some Chinese were beaten and their cars were smashed," Chen said, "but when the situation became more severe, the Chinese community united, and began making great contributions where we live."

"The Chinese community is the only foreign one here that has provided aid to Italy to confront the pandemic without asking for anything in return," she said, 

"I believe after the pandemic, the relationship between China and Italy will be improved greatly," Chen said.

When asked why the Chinese community would provide help, Chen said, "Chinese people are traditionally good willed," and also emphasized they have local business concerns to consider.

Statistics from 2018 showed that there were 300,000 Chinese living in Italy, according to

By Friday, Italy had 80,589 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as the death toll hit 8,215.

Spain is also facing a dire situation. Sun Xinbo, a Chinese student at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, told the Global Times that many Spanish people had ignored warnings from the Chinese and believed it was just a common flu. When the situation became worse, medical supplies, such as face masks, were depleted. 

Sun, who is also president of a Chinese student association, said many Chinese in Spain offered to help locals and donated face masks to local people and hospitals.

For example, Chinese living near Madrid gathered 3,000 medical face masks and donated them to a local hospital. 

Aside from donations, some Chinese made short videos to educate people on fighting the virus and maintaining hygiene. 

Before, there was discrimination against the Chinese due to the virus, but now, many locals are grateful for the help they have received from the Chinese community, said Sun.


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