0355 GMT July 15, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has led to greater sympathy and closeness between the Iranian and Chinese people, said the head of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Majidreza Hariri added that in the aftermath of the outbreak, the humanitarian aid flowing into both countries, sent by their people, was a beautiful manifestation of their sympathy and close relations.
He noted that at present, the two countries are delivering the highest amount of aid to each other.
Previously, the two states’ ties were mostly on the basis of inter-governmental relations and cooperation between their businessmen, Hariri said, adding that the disease has given a more significant role to people-to-people relations in Iran-China ties.
The coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province late last year and is currently affecting a large number of countries and territories across the globe. It has infected and killed people in a large number of countries. In Iran, the spread of the virus began in late February.
Hariri said Iran was the first country to support China after the virus began spreading in the East Asian country, noting that the Iranian government, people, private organizations and traders all participated in this process.
The Iranian government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed their support for and sympathy with China and encouraged its people and government to stay strong in the face of the virus, he noted.
Sympathizing with the Chinese, he said, in cooperation with the country’s private sector, the Iranian people sent, among other things, two million face masks to China.
Following the beginning of the outbreak in Iran, it was China that sent its humanitarian aid, including 12 million face masks, to the country, Hariri added.
He said China has so far provided assistance to over 100 countries amid the coronavirus spread, adding its most generous support has been offered to Iran.
On the Chinese aid delivered to Iran, Hariri noted that during late March-early April, China sent cargoes containing 30 essential items required for fighting the coronavirus to Iran on 30 flights, 28 of which were operated by Mahan Air.
“The aid was mostly sent by China’s civil, industrial and trade organizations as well as NGOs. For instance, $2 million were donated to Iran by Alibaba Group Holding Company Ltd. – a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in ecommerce, retail, Internet and technology.
He listed some of the Chinese medical equipment sent to Iran in the form of humanitarian aid as face masks, disposable gloves, thermometers, 500 prefabricated hospital rooms, 353 ventilators, respirators and thermographic cameras, 20 fog machines for disinfecting public places, sterile hospital equipment and devices, air purifiers and a machine for burning infected hospital waste, worth a total of €1 billion.
In virtual space, Hariri said, China announced an account number for public donations, which was online for close to 30 hours, adding in such a brief period, the Chinese people donated $500,000, which was handed over to the Iranian Embassy.
“All donations were made by ordinary people, as each donation was usually below $10.”
All of this was because of the sympathy Iranians showed toward the Chinese at the beginning of the outbreak of the virus, he said, adding this comes as many countries that are in the West’s political camp were promoting a kind of anti-Chinese racism in the aftermath of the global coronavirus outbreak.
Commenting on some countries’ attacks on China after the coronavirus outbreak across the world, Hariri stressed that these were in line with a policy the US is pursuing in its trade war with China, formulated mainly by President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton.
On imports of essential items from China, he said that after the outbreak, a number of immediate measures were taken by Iran for purchasing the likes of face masks, disposable gloves and ventilators from the East Asian country.
“Such orders are still being placed as we, and in general the whole world, import raw materials required for drug production from China and India.”
He said most of the Iranian traders who used to import medical equipment and drugs from China currently continue their purchases from the country, particularly as the processes involved have been facilitated at a faster pace.
Turning to the present level of trade between Iran and China, Hariri noted that exchanges all over the world have been impacted by the coronavirus spread and thus fail to be normal.
“Trade transactions between Iran and China are no exception. Figures by China Customs Administration pertaining to the country’s trade with Iran in the first two months of 2020 indicate a year-on-year decline of 25 percent.”