Dedicated diplomats excel overseas during pandemic

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-03-16 07:34
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A worker in Damascus unloads medical supplies donated by the Chinese embassy to Syria in June. XINHUA

Serving citizens

The pandemic has also resulted in dramatic changes to the tasks performed by Chinese diplomats over the past 12 months.

They have spent more time offering diplomatic protection to Chinese citizens, handling applications for health certificates for travel to China, and worked at the forefront in coordinating operations and supplies to fight the pandemic.

Wang said that over the past year great concern had been voiced for the safety of Chinese nationals abroad.

"In the face of COVID-19, we provided timely assistance to Chinese nationals overseas and did whatever we could to protect and help them," he added.

Kong, the Chinese ambassador to Japan and a member of the CPPCC National Committee, followed the two sessions in real time through various channels in Tokyo every day while also carrying out his diplomatic duties.

He said, "The entire staff at the embassy will continue to stay in their posts to provide more help to Chinese citizens in Japan and stand with them during this hard time."

Kong said in an interview with Chinese media on March 10 that as the pandemic spread rapidly in Japan last year, the embassy worked to charter flights home for stranded citizens and to provide medicine to those in dire need.

It later shifted its focus to "paying more attention to the health and safety of overseas Chinese and personnel at China's institutions based in Japan", he said.

Embassy personnel have held seminars to improve safety awareness, organized mutual support groups among citizens, coordinated medical resources and distributed personal protective equipment, including 350,000 face masks, Kong added.

A flurry of comments and messages from Chinese netizens mourning ambassador Xu Hong, who led the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands during the height of the pandemic and into the middle of last year, bear testimony to the hard work performed by the country's diplomats.

Xu, a senior expert in international law and former head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Treaty and Law, died from an illness on March 7.

WeChat user "Xiaoxiami" contributed to the embassy's obituary to Xu, stating, "Last year, because of the pandemic, I was very worried about my son, who was studying in the Netherlands, and I kept track of any releases from the embassy every day.

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