On Feb 4, De Volkskrant published an article on the interview with the Chinese ambassador Mr. Xu Hong on coronavirus, the Chinese Embassy also released a transcript of the interview on the same day. On Feb 5, another article was published in De Volkskrant, claiming that the embassy transcript is incomplete. Concerning this issue, Chinese Embassy spokesperson has following remarks:
We noticed the two above mentioned articles published on De Volkskrant and would like to clarify some facts.
On Feb 4, Ambassador Xu Hong was interviewed by De Volkskrant on coronavirus in the embassy. The interview was taken in Chinese and lasted for 1.5 hours.The next day, De Volkskrant published a nearly 1000-word article on the interview, while the embassy released its own English version of the interview transcript in nearly 3000 words on the embassy website. We understand that to make the report more concise and relevant, both De Volkskrant and the embassy need to edit the original material. Though in our view, the embassy version of the interview is more complete and focused on the topic of coronavirus, we respect De Volkskrant's choice of content and angle in the published article. However, it turns out some of the content of the report fails to reflect Ambassador Xu's original meaning.
As a matter of fact, Ambassador Xu never made such remarks as China never accepts criticism in the interview, on the contrary, he clearly expressed that the Chinese government encourages supervision, criticism and tip-offs, as long as they are based on fact and solid proof. Ambassador Xu criticized the racism and discriminatory actions and speeches in some European countries and emphasized that freedom of speech is no excuse for racism and discrimination, the governments assume international obligations to prevent, condemn and prohibit acts of racial discrimination under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is a core international treaty in human rights.The transcript released by the embassy completely reflects the ambassador's position, who never said China was against any criticism nor demanded the Dutch government to interfere with freedom of speech.
The embassy noted that during the parliamentary debate on February 6, Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care and Sports clearly pointed out that in the fight against the epidemic, discriminatory words and deeds should be firmly resisted. We highly appreciate the firm position of the Dutch government.
In the interview, the journalist asked about the role of artificial intelligence in preventing and controlling the epidemic. Since the embassy does not possess information in this regard, Ambassador Xu did not give a direct answer, but only replied in principle that high technology will be properly applied in various fields, including remote diagnosis, remote consultation, online shopping, online teaching, etc., which improves the efficiency of the response. Ambassador Xu also emphasized that high technology should be strictly applied in accordance with laws, and must not violate human rights such as personal privacy. Considering that the content of this part of the interview is not substantial, the embassy deleted it in the release.
In addition, Ambassador Xu also introduced in the interview a series of measures China has taken so far in response to the epidemic. The Chinese government and Chinese people are united in their efforts to fight the epidemic with the resources of the whole nation, and are making huge sacrifice for this. That the spread of the epidemic worldwide is prevented is owing to China's responsible, timely, effective and unprecedented measures.
WHO highly appraises China's efforts in combating the coronavirus. Ambassador Xu also mentioned Sino-Dutch cooperation in this area, including aid from Dutch enterprises like Philips and Dutch people, as well as China's appreciation for the scientific and rational response measures taken by the Dutch government.These messages are very important for the solidarity,confidence and avoidance of fear of the international community. In an open,transparent and responsible manner, the embassy will continue to share information with the Dutch society and contribute to the fight against coronavirus.