Isn't Mr. Gunnar Stavrum A Racist? ----An Open Letter to the editor-in-chief of Nettavisen from Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Norway
驻挪威使馆
2020/03/27

On March 24, Mr. Gunnar Stavrum, the editor-in-chief of Nettavisen, published an article stating that China should "pay" for the spread of the COVID-19 to the rest of the world because it didn’t share the epidemic information openly and transparently. The article also indicates that the good news of the epidemic in Wuhan and official figures are "unreliable" and even says that "viruses usually come from Asia and China." Mr. Stavrum's remarks are exactly the same as those of a few extreme politicians a few days ago and have caused strong dissatisfaction and opposition among the Chinese and Asian communities in Norway. In a country like Norway that has always advocated inclusiveness and integration, I was shocked that such a well-known pressman openly mongers such opinions with strong racial discrimination and prejudice. I feel it’s necessary to respond to him with questions:

First of all, the origin of the COVID-19 is a scientific issue and has not been determined yet. Some experts and institutions in the U.S., Japan, and Italy have recently discovered cases that are unrelated to China and even earlier than that occurred in China. We believe that scientists will give us a real answer. What is the scientific basis of Mr. Stavrum's assumptions?

Secondly, the virus is a completely new one. It took time for the disease control and prevention institutions and experts to develop knowledge of its infectivity and harmfulness, and they must gather necessary and solid scientific evidence before making an announcement. Any responsible government and institution should do so. Chinese health bodies immediately analyzed the gene sequence and developed testing reagents in record time, and duly reported to the World Health Organization and other countries in an open, transparent, and responsible manner. As early as January 3, China has been notifying the WHO and other countries of the epidemic developments on a regular basis. On January 12, the WHO announced that it had received the virus gene sequence information from China. While releasing the information of the epidemic to the outside world timely, China has adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures, insisting on hospitalizing all confirmed patients, conducting thorough tests of all suspected patients. On 23 January, China announced the suspension of outbound public transport from Wuhan. China managed to control the spread of the epidemic in weeks. WHO and experts around the world recognize that China has bought sufficient and valuable warning time for the global response to the epidemic through tough measures and huge sacrifices. As for how each country makes use of China's timely information and the valuable time, it is a decision made by each government itself, based on its own evaluation and on the country’s very own conditions. With that, we have no right to interfere. However, to accuse China of not being open and transparent and has caused the spread of the virus is completely disregarding the facts and calls white black. Is Mr. Gunnar Stavrum truly not aware of the above facts, or is he distorting the truth on purpose?

Thirdly, China will never forget those who gave us their understanding and support, when the epidemic was at its worst in China. China is paying back with greater kindness by sending teams of doctors and/or prevention supplies to help nearly 100 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Chinese medical experts who have been worn out after fighting the domestic epidemic, are now in Iran, Iraq, Serbia, Cambodia, and Italy to save lives in the most hard-hit and dangerous areas. How did Mr. Gunnar Stavrum turn a blind eye to this?

China has also not forgotten the understanding and support given by the Norwegian government and people. We share your feelings when the outbreaks happened in Norway, and have provided China’s Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for COVID-19 for many times without delay. On March 19, China invited the Norwegian experts to a video conference with China and in total 18 European countries to exchange experiences. My Embassy is actively coordinating the donation of testing kits and masks to Norway. Several local governments and enterprises in China have donated or donating anti-epidemic supplies to Norway. Chinese communities in Norway have also taken an active part in fighting the epidemic. Some raise funds for donations of medical supplies. Some put aside their own job to help the health institutions with the procurement and transportation of the medical equipment. Some ventured their safety and joined the medical service, fighting at the front line. At a time when people in China and Chinese in Norway are standing together with the Norwegian government and people to fight against the epidemic, Mr. Stavrum is spreading racist opinions against China and Asia. Isn’t he a racist?

Fourthly, the argument that "the viruses usually come from Asia and China" and "China should pay for it" in the article is even more absurd. The history of human society is a history of fighting against viruses and epidemics. The examples of plague, mad cow disease, H1N1, MERS, and even AIDS indicate that viruses may appear at any time and every corner of this globe. Regarding these large-scale epidemic viruses, I wonder what is the comment from Mr. Stavrum, and which country would you ask to "pay"?

Finally, I would like to emphasize that at this critical moment, the virus is our common enemy. Globalization has long made the nations around the world a community with a shared future. Only when we are united can we overcome the difficulties together. The Chinese people are standing together with the Norwegian people in fighting against this epidemic. And I hope that Mr. Stavrum can distinguish right from wrong, follow the will of the people, and be a media figure that can be trusted by the public, rather than one racist spreading the virus of the racism with hatred and discrimination.

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