Ambassador He gives live interview on Virgin TV's Ireland AM

On 27 May, Ambassador He Xiangdong gave live interview on Virgin TV's Ireland AM regarding China's experience in fighting COVID-19. Here is the full transcript of the interview.

Tommy Martin: Good morning Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us on Ireland AM this morning. Firstly, I would like to ask you, now after three or four months onwards the worst outbreak in China, is there some resemblance of normality returning? Give us a picture of what life is like in China.

Ambassador: I would like to say that we have achieved significant success in containing the pandemic in China. Now there are only 79 active cases in the Chinese mainland. And we haven't had any death case for more than one month. We still have to keep vigilant because there are still some scattered newly confirmed cases here and there in China. And another major concern is imported cases. We have different layers of prevention and control in different regions. In some cities and provinces, restrictions are low, and a high percentage of productions in the economy has been resumed; in some other areas, restrictions are stricter. We have made great efforts to reopen while keeping prevention and control measures. In many places, you have to wear masks, have your temperature checked, and you have to keep social distancing. With regard to factories, people have staggered office hours, wear face masks all the time. So there is a lot of prevention and control measures still going on.


Ciara Doherty: So what are the measures you see in China that you think should be introduced in Ireland that perhaps we are not following here?

Ambassador: I would say that there is no single magic solution. The key to success is a combination of various measures combined together. I think that keeping social distancing and wearing masks when keeping social distancing are difficult are very important. Testing, contact tracing, they are still the key.


Ciara Doherty: And the social distancing, one meter or two-meter, what is the guideline in China?

Ambassador: It's somewhere between one to two meters. There is no strict number. But people need to keep social distancing and wear masks in public.


Tommy Martin: You are very aware, from what we are reading from China, of the second wave, a number of Asian countries that have contained the virus are now in the stage where they are carefully monitoring a potential second wave. For example, in Wuhan, there were seven million tests done in the last few weeks to try to track down if there was going to be further spikes. Does that mean you will see travel restrictions stay in place and this level of monitoring and testing is something that has to go on in countries that want to avoid a second wave, like Ireland, for example?

Ambassador: That's China's experience and especially the experience of Wuhan. Because Wuhan is the epicenter in China. Testing is very important. And we would like to share our experience with the rest of the world, including Ireland. But I think every country needs to adopt its own measures according to the conditions of each country, each area, each city, or even each community.

Ciara Doherty: Do you think that is something that we could do here in Ireland, given the size of the country, that we could perhaps look at identifying different regions, in different zones in the country, opening different counties at different rates. Do you think that is realistic here?

Ambassador: It probably could be the case. But you don't have to test the whole population of the country, you need to figure out which area, which zone, which community is of high risk. In these high-risk areas, maybe you need to do more.


Tommy Martin: As we learn more about the virus and how to tackle it from countries like China. How do you respond to the blame game that's going on internationally at the moment especially from America obviously who are targeting China, accusing China of having covered up the very early stages of the virus, not allowing medics to inform people, inform the population about the seriousness of it, wasting valuable days and weeks at the very early days of the virus's spread?

Ambassador: That accusation is totally groundless and ridiculous. China is the first country to face the pandemic and this totally new virus. When the first few cases were reported in China, nobody knew anything about the virus, the disease, and the pandemic. At that time, even nobody would expect it would be a pandemic or epidemic. But China acted very quickly and decisively. Chinese scientists found the genome information of the virus very quickly and the Chinese government took actions very quickly and decisively. We have taken very strict, very comprehensive, and very decisive measures to contain the virus.


Ciara Doherty: Ambassador, will the Chinese government allow the international body to come to China to reassure the international community that as you say China did take immediate, decisive action. Will you allow international body to come in and carry out investigation into how the Chinese authorities dealt with COVID-19 and indeed how began to find out the source of COVID-19 in China?

Ambassador: Absolutely there are no secrets hidden there in China. We are open to any so-called review of the origin of the virus and reactions to the outbreak. We believe that we have done a great job.


Tommy Martin: Just finally very quickly, tell us about the Chinese community in Ireland, did they face any difficult times, any racism or backlash from local populations over the early months of this virus as it spread from China?

Ambassador: I would say that the majority of Irish people treat Chinese people here in Ireland very friendly. The majority of the population in Ireland knows the situation. They understand the situation so they know that facing the pandemic or epidemic, we need to be united together. At the same time, there are a few isolated cases, especially on the internet. We noticed that there are a few people attacking Chinese people or Asian people with racist words. But that's just a few isolated cases.


Tommy Martin: OK, Ambassador He Xiangdong, thanks for joining us this morning.