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Nikolić gives an interview to the Guangming Daily

Guangming Daily
Sunday, 23 February 2020

This battle is fought by the people of China and the whole world

- Interview with former President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić

By Zhao Jiazheng of Guangming Daily, 23 February 2020

Former President of Serbia and incumbent President of Serbia’s National Council for Coordination of Cooperation with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China Tomislav Nikolić has recently agreed to an exclusive interview with our journalist in order to state his opinion about the current anti- epidemic struggle in China. Mr. Nikolić first emphasized that he felt sympathy for the patients stricken by the epidemic in China, adding that he never doubted the ability of the Chinese Government and the people of China to overcome it.

He said that he was very glad to learn from the media that the epidemic in China was slowing down, which had undoubtedly resulted from the strict measures taken by the Chinese Government. China has imposed unprecedented measures nationwide, placing cities under lockdown, shutting down transport services, downsizing the movement of people and efficiently controlling the spread of the virus. It should also be pointed out that it is owing to the said measures of the Chinese Government that major infection spreads to most other countries in the world were stopped. Furthermore, it is worth noting in this process that China has the capacity for mobilization at both central and local levels. He underlined that dozens of thousands of medical workers from all across China were deployed to Hubei and to Wuhan in particular, which was rendered possible owing to the use of huge resources earmarked for emergency situations. The allocation of aid to the most affected is an asset of China’s governmental system, the edge that only a handful of other countries in the world can boast. At the same time, the Chinese observe the Government’s instructions, while practicing self-isolation, which efficiently prevents the spread of the virus in China, and one would have his work cut out to find such a high level of self-discipline and organizational management elsewhere in the world. This reflects the trust that the Chinese place in the Government and the strong capacity of China for mobilization and organization, not to mention the construction of several hospitals in a matter of days. Only China is capable of such a miraculous fight. Mr. Nikolić fears that the outbreak will be more problematic if it happens in Europe.

Nikolić quoted a WHO official, who said that the timely and drastic measures taken by the Government of China had given the rest of the world the time to respond, which effectively reduced the virus transmission channels to other countries, while decelerating its outpouring speed. He also said that the locking of the virus inside China had cost it dearly, but that this fully mirrored the Chinese sense of responsibility to the world, making people from around the globe reflect on the accountability of a large country’s government. This will additionally reinforce the Chinese national status and international reputation, while boosting the confidence of the countries fostering an active cooperation with China.

Speaking about the impact of the epidemic on China’s economy, Nikolić said that he understood that this year’s economic growth in China would be under pressure due to the epidemic, but he believed that China would overcome the short-lived difficulties under the guidance of President Xi Jinping. He underlined that the Chinese were very industrious and that a brief hiatus would not derail the course of China’s economy. He witnessed himself that the Chinese Government, companies and people continue to work differently having embraced electronic communication, and that education, trade, logistics and other fields develop unimpedely over the internet. This indicates that the Chinese economy has not backed down before the epidemic. “You have had a short break, but you are developing in a new form,” he said. In addition, he commented that the Chinese have full confidence in their state and nation, which is a guarantee that the epidemic will not defeat China’s economy. 

Serbia is one of the CEE countries most closely involved in economic cooperation with China. Commenting on the impact of the epidemic on Sino-Serbian cooperation, Nikolić said: “Serbia has always been China’s good friend, and I see no reason why the epidemic should affect the cooperation between the two countries.” He added that the Embassy of China in Serbia had done much work in the face of the epidemic, such as recommending that all workers from China should self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to Serbia, and that all the Chinese coming to Serbia should undergo a medical check-up. All these measures were highly positive. Even though Serbia has recorded fewer visits by Chinese tourists during the Spring Festival due to the epidemic, the Sino-Serbian cooperation has never ceased and the related projects are promoted on a regular basis. Therefore, he believes that the Sino-Serbian cooperation will develop further.

In this fight against the epidemic in China, Chinese doctors have blended the traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine, discovering many medicines and methods to alleviate the disease. When asked about this subject, Mr. Nikolić said that he was aware that the Chinese medicine and herbal medicine stretch back for thousands of years, in the same way Serbia has some very useful traditional healing methods involving tea consumption in particular, but that the Chinese culture of traditional medicine is measured in millennia. If the gist of the history is applied correctly, it is bound to have a good impact on people’s health. He also actively promotes the application of the TCM culture in Serbia, hoping that the people of Serbia will also understand this part and parcel of Chinese culture.

Finally, Nikolić said that China was doing its best to battle the epidemic: “This is the struggle of the people of China for the entire world, for we only have one planet and we all live in one world. I believe that the Chinese will emerge victorious in the fight against the epidemic. China will win, the Chinese people will win.”

Belgrade, 22 February
Our Belgrade Correspondent
Zhao Jiazheng