Dear parents of all Afghan students in China,
I hope this letter finds you well.
This is Chinese Ambassador Wang Yu in Afghanistan. This winter has not been very tranquil. An unexpected outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia has disrupted the reunions of numerous Chinese families, frozen the bustling atmosphere of the Chinese New Year and tugged at the heartstrings of you parents thousands of miles away. Mothers always worry about their children away from home. You must be very concerned. Are your children safe in China? Will they be infected? Are there people protecting them? Are they eating well? I am also a father and my daughter is also thousands of miles away. I deeply understand your feelings, especially that of the parents whose children in Wuhan. Please rest assured, on the Chinese land, the Chinese government will take good care of every foreign student as parents taking good care of their children.
Please be assured that your children are safe now and they’ll be so in the future. As of today, no Afghan student in China has been infected. As many measures take effect and the situation obviously improves, with appropriate protective measures, the students will not be infected in the future. At the main battlefield of Wuhan, four critical measures are protecting our children. First, routes of infection transmission have been interrupted. In the city of Wuhan, all confirmed and suspected patients have been hospitalized. All residential compounds are strictly closed off. It’s roughly impossible for students to encounter a source of infection. Second, the students’ residences are secured with regular disinfection operations. Universities provide for free face masks, rubber gloves, disinfectant and liquid soaps for their students’ protection. Third, health information is collected and monitored closely with students reporting on a daily basis their body temperatures to the school authorities. Fourth, channels of communication are unimpeded for the students. The Hubei Provincial Education Department and schools of higher education in the province offer 24/7 counselling service, which allows the students to get in touch with teachers in charge through WeChat or telephones whenever in need. You may set your mind at further rest if your children are in places other than Wuhan. By 17 February, except for Hubei, all provinces have witnessed decreases in the number of new confirmed cases for fourteen consecutive days, a number of them have zero new confirmed case per day and the majority of them have only single-digit new cases. Universities throughout the country have decided to postpone their school opening days for the next term to minimize possibility of imported infection. In short, your children are very safe in their universities in China.
Please be assured that your children can enjoy the same medical resources as their Chinese friends in China. There are nearly one million medical and health institutions in China, with 12.3 million health workers and 8.4 million beds. In 2018 alone, 8.31 billion patients were seen by doctors, with a total investment of RMB 5.8 trillion. In response to the current outbreak, the whole of China is assisting Hubei province. Over 30, 000 medical workers from all over China have braced the coronavirus to worst-hit areas in Hubei in over 200 teams. They are hailed as heroes in harm’s way. There are top-notch teams led by three renowned academicians and best respiratory and infection specialists from best hospitals in all provinces. China has also focused on scientific researches. Rapid tests that will produce diagnostic results in 15 minutes will soon be produced and used. Some vaccine candidates are going through animal testing and three medicines are in clinical trials. All these measures are producing results. For seven consecutive days, over 1000 cured have been discharged from hospitals every day, and totally more than 10,000. No matter which country they are from, they can get better treatment in China. China defeated the SARS outbreak 17 years ago. We are a nation undaunted by setbacks. With a strong government leadership, a robust science-based prevention and control system and a large group of well-trained professional health workers, we will for sure defeat the outbreak and embrace the light of dawn very soon.
Please be assured that your children are well fed in China. At present, the great majority of university students are at home for the Chinese New Year holidays and most of those staying are foreign students. To cater for them, universities make sure that school canteens operate as usual or provide delivery services. Some schools provide for free three meals for students living in campus. A school purchased 2000 kilogrammes of vegetables for free distribution among its foreign students. Efforts are made to secure Muslim food for students from Afghanistan and other relevant countries. In Wuhan, the city worst hit, grain and cooking oil reserves are there for the whole population for 40 days, plus sufficient supplies of meat, poultry and eggs. Various supplies of daily necessities are delivered to city from all of China every day. Students don’t need to worry about food or living there.
Please be assured that your children’s learning in China will not be affected. The Chinese government provides scholarships for students from other developing countries, Afghanistan included, out of the hope that our children will learn more knowledge and skills and then serve their own countries’ development. Parents naturally hope to see higher educational attainments by their children. This is also very much on our mind. The Ministry of Education has introduced 9 measures to support learning while schools are not open. Over 24 000 high quality courses produced by best teachers are made available to all students for free to satisfy their learning needs. I encourage all the students to treasure this rare and special period to learn more, both knowledge in their respective disciplines and touching stories in the fight against the virus, and Chinese traditional culture of benevolence, righteousness and bravery. Some students told their parents that they had been very bored in schools. There’s an old saying in China, which goes: Parents love their children with long-term planning for them. I truly hope that you will talk more with your children in these days and encourage them to live it to the full with hard work. Then they will get a full and interesting super-long holiday and a beautiful memory for the future.
I’ve been in touch with some Afghan students in Wuhan and talked to them regularly about their lives there. A few days ago, I talked to a student named Mujtaba Naaseri and asked him to protect himself. He told me that all had been well and asked me not to worry. Then he sent a very long, touching text. Let me quote him. ‘I feel proud to stay in Wuhan at this critical moment of epidemic response because my Chinese classmates, friends and teachers are all here. I live well here, with food well guaranteed. The school clinic is open 24 hours day. My teacher talks to me every day and asks about my health. I am worried that infections might be brought to my countrymen if I return to Afghanistan now and that will be a burden for my country. I am also worried that my classmates, friends and teachers will feel sad if I leave now. I have grown up in a place of war and chaos and become a man that does not fear death and vows to stand by my friends. How can I abandon them while they suffer? No. I’ll stay in Wuhan, encourage them and give them strength. I firmly believe that the outbreak will not last forever and soon we will celebrate our victory.’ Also a few days ago, here in Kabul, Jalal Bazwan, Khalil Ahmad Hijrat and M.Haroon Safi, three former students in China, learned about the shortage of masks in China. They braved the snowstorms and the risk of terrorist attacks to visit 500 pharmacies in several cities and then delivered to the embassy 20, 000 face masks to be forwarded back to China. They said: ‘Help comes from all parts of the world. We are very happy to help the Chinese people.’
These are ordinary Afghan students in China. In their message and actions I see inexhaustible strength. It reminds me of what Chairman Mao once said: Afghanistan is a heroic nation. Born here, the four students have in their genes a power passed down through generations. I have been in Afghanistan for only three months but have felt already the sublimity of this nation and fallen in love with it. I believe that all Afghan students in China will feel the same since we are also a heroic nation with a splendid history of five thousand years. At this difficult moment, I am very happy to see that Afghan students have learnt knowledge from outside of their textbooks and known more about courage and responsibility. The strong will and profound friendship between two heroic nations are best inherited among the young. Dear parents, I feel gratified to witness together with you the growth of your children in China. Be assured, they are growing fine.
No winter lasts forever, every spring is sure to follow. Hope is like a seedling. Although slowly, it will someday grow into a tall tree. China in the past helped Afghanistan to build multiple hospitals, classroom buildings, schools, water conservancy projects, houses and roads, organized successful operations for hundreds of Afghan children with congenital heart disease and assisted many rural households to generate more income in reciprocal trade. We rejoice in the solidarity shown by Afghan students in China and many Afghan brothers. With you fighting on our side, we don’t feel lonely when we nurture the valuable hope. The Chinese are a thankful nation. Every portion of your support will be treasured and remembered. In the future, our cooperation will go deeper. Please rest assured. As you send your children to China, we will take care of and guard them like we do our own children. Together with you, we will see them grow, stopped by neither wind nor rain and worthy of history.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of
the People’s Republic of China to Afghanistan