On February 4, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou gave an interview to Yomiuri Shimbun at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo. Speaking about the new coronavirus outbreak and the spread of pneumonia, he expressed deep concern that response to the outbreak has so far failed to stop the virus from spreading. He also extended appreciation for Japanese support, including protective gear, saying, “It is a big boost to the fight against the coronavirus. We appreciate the gesture of good will from the Japanese people.”
In mainland China, more than 20,000 have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus as of February 4, and the infection is raging without showing any sign of ending soon. The Ambassador pointed out that China has a lot to learn from Japan in areas such as vaccine research and development and public health education. He said he hopes that Japan will extend further support in those areas and stressed, “I strongly believe we can overcome the threat of the pneumonia” with countermeasures against the virus currently implemented by the Chinese government, combined with international support..
According to Ambassador Kong, there are almost as many as 400 Chinese nationals currently visiting Japan from Hubei province, the epicenter of the infection, and China will fly a second charter flight on February 5 to bring them back.
As for the Chinese economy, “there is no doubt that some impact (from the coronavirus-related pneumonia) will be felt, but the infection’s effect will be only temporary.” He went on to express the view that there is no change at all in the future prospect of the Chinese economy: it will remain on an upward trajectory in the long run.
Asked if the raging virus may affect Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan, which is currently planned for April, the Ambassador answered, “I have not heard of any plans to delay the visit. Preparations are being made according to the plan.” Japan and China have exchanged four political documents in the past, including the Japan-China Joint Communique issued in 1972. He said it is possible that two countries may formulate a fifth document on the occasion of Xi’s visit. “If the timing is right, it is conceivable that we express a shared understanding,”
At the moment, the Japan-China relationship is on the way to recovering. However, some concerns remain. Ambassador Kong cautioned that Japan and China have not reached the point of trust where they can build a relationship for the future, and stressed that the most important task for the two countries now is to foster that bilateral trust.