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Chinese and British business leaders show united front in fundraiser

By Angus McNeice in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-29 06:20

Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK (center); Richard Burn, the UK Trade Commissioner for China (center left); William Russell, the Lord Mayor of London (center right), Lord James Sassoon, chairman of the China Britain Business Council (1st from left), and Fang Wenjian, chairman of the CCCUK and general manager of the Bank of China in London attend the “UK and China, United We Stand” fundraiser event in London on Friday. [Photo/provided to China Daily]

British and Chinese business leaders and government representatives held a fundraiser in London on Friday for China’s ongoing fight against novel coronavirus outbreak.

The event, titled “UK and China, United Wea Stand” was held at the Guildhall, which is the ceremonial center for the City of London, and was organized by the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, or CCCUK.

More than 47,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Wuhan, representing almost two- thirds of the total number of cases in China.

At the event, Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, said he appreciated recent messages of support from British leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Queen.

“I’ve been deeply touched by the decision of the City of London and the UK-China business community to put on this event,” Liu said. “I think today we are demonstrating our determination, confidence, and perseverance.”

Liu said that the severity of the public health crisis in China was unprecedented in terms of how quickly the virus has spread and the scope of its impact. He said that China has responded with “the most comprehensive, strict and thorough measures against the disease.

“Thanks to these efforts the spread of the disease is being contained and the numbers are on a descending trajectory,” he said. “No matter how severe the situation is or no matter how daunting, China will stand united with the international community and the UK, and go all- out to win this battle against the virus. China and the UK will emerge from the test of this epidemic with strong mutual trust and closer cooperation.”

Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, expresses his gratitude for the support and solidarity shown by the British people to China’s fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak. Ouyang Xueyan / China Daily

Fang Wenjian, chairman of the CCCUK and general manager of the Bank of China in London, said it has been “a tough start to the year, but we have felt a lot of support from people and companies in the UK”.

Fang said that despite incurring losses, many in the business community had rallied to help mitigate the effects of the outbreak.

“Some companies are running at a loss flying between the UK and China, but they continue running because they don’t want the link between the UK and China to be broken by the virus,” he said.

Lord James Sassoon, chairman of the China Britain Business Council, said that the UK and China “stand united against the virus” and will maintain cooperation to ensure the “return to business as normal in China”.

William Russell, the Lord Mayor of London, said that the novel coronavirus challenge “will not shake our bonds of trust.

“While we are confident the challenge can be overcome, we recognize the sadness it has caused,” Russell said. “I look forward to the day when the sun shines once again on the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan,” he added, making reference to one of the city’s iconic landmarks.

Richard Burn, the UK Trade Commissioner for China, said that China’s Ministry of Commerce has provided continued support.

“They have made sure that British businesses can get through this difficult time as best they can,” Burn said. “This has been a difficult period, I know of the suffering and trauma China has gone through, but we have taken heart in the World Health Organization reports on what China has been doing to control the virus.”

He added: “China is our third-largest trading partner, and once we get through this crisis trade will rebound quickly. This is a time for British and China to show their love and respect for each other.”

At the event, students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama performed the song Chime of the Dawn Bells composed by Jean-Francois Maljean, a Belgian pianist who has performed more than 100 concerts in China. Maljean co-wrote the song with a musician from Wuhan in response to the outbreak.

“I have a love affair with China, I have been going back regularly for 20 years,” Maljean said, adding that he hopes the song will help lift the spirits of those who have been impacted by the virus, and show them that people from overseas are thinking of them.

Chinese authorities have orchestrated a large-scale operation to both contain the spread of the virus from Wuhan, and to help those impacted by the disease. The government has sent more than 41,600 medical workers to Wuhan and other cities in Hubei to support treatment efforts.

On Friday, Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s National Health Commission, said that in Wuhan, the recovery rate of patients in a severe condition has climbed significantly, from 14 to 64 percent.

Ma said this improvement is due to a treatment plan designed by medical experts from across China, as well as efforts to increase the number of available hospital beds.

Participants listen to the keynote speech delivered by Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama performed the song Chime of the Dawn Bells composed by Jean-Francois Maljean, a Belgian pianist who has performed more than 100 concerts in China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

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