Xi hails unity of China's 1.4b people in COVID-19 battle

By Zhao Yusha and Liu Caiyu Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/8 22:28:40

Honoring heroes shows 'burgeoning strength, confidence'

President Xi Jinping Tuesday presents medals to recipients of the Medal of the Republic and the national honorary title for their outstanding contributions to the country's fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. The highest national honor was awarded to Zhong Nanshan, and national honorary titles to three other experts, including Chen Wei (front left). Photo: Xinhua

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, China, a major country that first emerged from it, has now claimed victory over what Chinese President Xi Jinping called "an extraordinary and historic test," and the hard-fought triumph was hailed by observers as injecting much needed confidence for an upended world, where China is facing a complicated situation at home and a crackdown from certain hegemonic countries. 

The nine-month fight against coronavirus, with more than 1.4 billion people involved, has made China the first major country to return to normal, and the first major economy to resume growth. As many countries continue to struggle with the pandemic, President Xi delivered a key speech to honor China's victory over the virus at a ceremony to commend China's heroes in fighting COVID-19, and draw up what observers said was a blueprint for the nation's rejuvenation despite ever-changing outside influence. 

Outstanding representatives from fighters of coronavirus were invited to receive their award at the ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Tuesday, during which Xi awarded the Medal of the Republic, the highest national honor, on renowned respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan, and national honorary titles to three other experts, including Chen Wei who made major achievements in COVID-19-related basic research and developing a vaccine, for their contributions to fighting COVID-19.  

Zhong Nanshan, recipient of the Medal of the Republic, arrives at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 8, 2020. China started a meeting Tuesday morning in Beijing to commend role models in the country's fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Xinhua

Zhong and other representatives entered the venue in vehicles escorted by national guards. They passed through streets filled with cheering crowds.

Along with them, medical staff, police, deliverymen, sanitation workers, volunteers, and some 2,000 representatives in the fight against COVID-19 wearing large red flowers on their chests were among those to be awarded.

Xi spoke for over an hour, during which he hailed China's hard-won victory over COVID-19 and recounted touching stories of numerous people from all walks of lives, including doctors, deliverymen, cleaners and Communist Party of China (CPC) members, who made great contributions to this battle, and also how China has helped other countries fight the virus.

Xi said that China took just over a month to initially curb the spread of the epidemic, about two months to bring the number of daily new domestic cases to single digits, and three months to beat COVID-19 in Wuhan and Hubei. China then fought several battles to annihilate clustered infections in cities, eventually achieving a major strategic result in the national fight against the epidemic.

Xi summarized the features of China's spirit in combating the COVID-19 epidemic as -- putting people's lives first, nationwide solidarity, sacrifice, respecting science and a sense of mission for humanity.

"We are willing to do whatever it takes to protect people's lives!" Xi said.

China's phased victory over COVID-19 has infused confidence in the Chinese people in potential sporadic or partial clustered outbreaks, as the overseas epidemic continues to wreak havoc, and colder weather may bring a second wave, said Wang Guangfa, a leading Chinese respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, who also attended the ceremony. 

It also injected tremendous confidence in the country, which is on course to rejuvenation despite it faces challenges from a complicated situation at home, and extreme attempts from some hegemonic powers to crack down on its development, observers said. 

The motorcade carrying recipients of the Medal of the Republic and the national honorary title is accompanied by motorcycle escorts on the way to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 8, 2020. China will hold a meeting Tuesday morning in Beijing to commend role models in the country's fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. The meeting will be held at the Great Hall of the People at 10:00 am. Photo: Xinhua

People's war

The ceremony was not only for heroes. It was watched by Chinese, and sparked mixed memories in them, whose life has been upended in the past nine months.

Ahead of the ceremony, China Central Television broadcast a video montage of Wuhan, the city hit hardest at the peak of the outbreak in the country, set to rousing music, including images of medical staff in hazmat suits and crowded hospitals.

A Wuhan doctor surnamed Wang said her hospital gathered medical staff to watch the ceremony on television. "Most of the viewers shed tears. We won the battle, but we seldom look back at the process," Wang said.

The sweat-soaked clothes under protective suits during chilling winter; the panic triggered by coughing patients; the helplessness of doctors when patients died in front of them; and the fear of passing the virus to their loved ones… are all scars that Wang and her colleagues need time to heal.

"But our hearts are warmed by the ceremony, as we knew that it signals victory--and that we are remembered by state leaders and by the Chinese people," Wang said.

In the over 9,800-word speech, Xi mentioned the word "people" 70 times. He also said the unity of Chinese people was embodied in this war. The white of doctors' gowns, green of military people's uniforms; red of volunteers' clothes, CPC members going first…they symbolized the togetherness of 1.4 billion Chinese people. 

Wuhan, the "city of heroes," was also mentioned by Xi several times during the speech. He said that when Wuhan was plagued with coronavirus, the nation cheered them up with slogans "stay strong, reganmian" (hot dry noodles, the most popular noodle dish in this city), and people from Wuhan also made great contributions and sacrifice to pave the way for the national victory.  

"We have passed the extraordinary test of history," Xi said, praising the country for a "heroic feat" against the disease.

Together, stronger

Globally, COVID-19 cases have surpassed 26 million, with most cases coming from the US, followed by India, Johns Hopkins University data shows.

Xi said no country is safe alone in this huge crisis. Any selfish moves, any buck-passing, and any deeds that confuse right from wrong will not only damage its own people, but also spread harm to other parts of the world. 

Since the outbreak, China has been misunderstood in terms of its virus prevention measures, accuracy of reported cases, and by other accusations and speculation from some countries, Wang Guangfa said.

But China has gone through that. A wall of the efforts of every Chinese crushes the outside hubbub of voices, Wang said, citing the return of students to school, and life returning to normal quickly as "China is able to fight with the facts. Facts are the most powerful response," Wang said.

A grassroots official in Urumqi, Xinjiang, which just announced a return to normal after more than a month's lockdown, told the Global Times that some foreign media seek to stir trouble in the region, when the lockdown aroused public concerns. 

But they failed to see the Xinjiang government's efforts to address concerns of the public. Urumqi, hit hardest in the region in the latest outbreak, sought to publish senior officials' personal phone number on the website for the public to reach so as to respond to residents' questions and address concerns more efficiently, said the official.

The official explained in detail how students can go out of Xinjiang to study, how the elderly can seek medical treatment when being quarantined… gradually, their concerns were eased, the official said. 

Xinjiang's life has resumed. The official said that the pandemic has tested Xinjiang people's solidarity. "For people in Xinjiang, who have experienced true ethnic unity, we value more of the unity than anyone else."

Wang said that the Chinese people have gained experience from the pandemic, which is the advantage of the Chinese system and Chinese culture.

Despite continuous provocation and smears by certain countries, "we won't flinch. The courage, the spirit we gained from the virus battle boosted our confidence. We fought the virus, and we can also beat anything else," Wang said. 


blog comments powered by Disqus