World is facing an extraordinary moment in early 2020. If Chinese government had not locked down Wuhan, corona-virus could have caused much greater damages by now
Nepal is my second home.
This could be surprising for many people. Everyone would aspire to go to developed countries like the United States and the UK and take pride in living in New York, London or Paris, rather than in dusty Kathmandu. I have tried to tell them about snowy mountains, sacred temples, deep beliefs, and kind smiles, but obviously it is difficult to convince others, and not even for myself.
I have attended many weddings in Kathmandu. In the South Asian tradition, spring is the perfect season to get married. Hundreds of people were laughing, singing and dancing at each wedding. As a rare foreign face at the wedding, almost everyone would ask me where I came from. I told them I was Chinese.
Then the people would give me a big hug or ask for a selfie together. I have never been so popular in China. I have been living here since way before the corona-virus outbreak and have not been wearing mask.
In the streets of America, Europe, or Australia, if someone has an East-Asian face and is Chinese, he might be required to wear a mask, be forced to go through medical inspection, have his visa cancelled and deported back to China, or even be beaten. Even if he has lived in a city he loves for more than 10 years. I understand human fear, but it is still sad.
I suddenly realize that this is why I love Nepal: I am in a normal world and I do not feel exclusion, isolation and fear. The patients are not our enemies, the virus is.
On February 16, government of Nepal brought back 175 citizens (mostly students) from Wuhan.
Someone warned me that if 10 of the evacuated students get sick, they will infect 100 people, and eventually these 100 people will contaminate the entire Kathmandu valley. This was an exaggeration, but I still felt scared.
However, after some sleepless nights, I decided to publicly express in the Chinese media my support for the Nepal’s evacuation plan. Every child has the right to go home, every patient should be treated, every minority needs to be respected, and every life is worth cherishing.
This is the most basic value of all human beings, higher than money, disease, fear and everything else. COVID-19 is a terrifying public health crisis, but it is not an excuse to give up our noble values. It now appears that Nepal’s evacuation operation has been very successful. Good intentions naturally produce good results.
China is still fighting a hard war against the novel-coronavirus. The outside world is spreading many different opinions on the battle. Few days back, a Nepali newspaper used some controversial comments and an “unusual” photo. China and Nepal are separated by the Himalayas but for thousands of years each has respected the other’s culture. That photo, in the concept of Chinese culture, is extremely arrogant, crass and rude.
I am an independent writer and a believer in press freedom. I have no doubt that Nepali journalists also pursue the ideal of press justice and strive to be true and objective. However, the media should not be a tool for politics. The foundation of press justice should also include empathy, and in addition to being true and objective, it also must be comprehensive. This is what makes press the cornerstone of justice. The world is facing an extraordinary moment in early 2020. If Chinese government had not locked-down Wuhan city temporarily to stop the spread of the epidemic, the corona-virus could have caused much greater damages by now.
Every Wuhan citizen is a hero, bearing the pain of disease for all mankind. One abrasive word can seriously hurt their feelings. Please don’t ignore their sweat, tears and sacrifice.
The Chinese sage Confucius famously said: “When your neighbor is sick, don’t sing in the direction of his house.” If the ancients understood this thousands of years ago, we modern people should do better.
On February 11, WHO announced in a press conference in Geneva that the novel coronavirus was officially named COVID-19. WHO Director-General Dr. Ghebreyesus said the name had been chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species or group of people in line with international recommendations for naming aimed at preventing stigmatization. Corona-virus outbreak could occur in any country, not just in China. Please avoid words like “Wuhan pneumonia” or “China virus”. Human beings should unite and not hurt each other.
Throughout history, great countries have been respected not for their own grandness but for the contributions they have made for the greatness of the world. I firmly believe Nepal will become a great country.
The author is a Chinese media person based in Kathmandu