• Saturday 28th March 2020

COVID-19 a humanitarian crisis

  • Published on: March 18, 2020



  • BY SITARAM THAPA

    In the beginning of winter 2015, I had an opportunity to experience the Trans-Himalayan flight from Kathmandu to Beijing via Lhasa in a group of Nepali students. I had got scholarship from Confucius Institute, Kathmandu to study at the Hebei University of Business and Economics. After we reached Beijing at night, the travel from airport to the university was full of excitements as well as lots of questions arising in our mind. The next morning we were welcomed by the university staff and the hospitality was beyond our expectation, we all were touched.
    After our arrival in the university, it took us few days to be familiar with the Chinese food and customs. Especially learning to use chopsticks took us a bit time and we used to laugh at each other as most of the students were beginners to use it. In addition, as we got used to with our university routine and everything around, everyday we would meet many Chinese colleagues who asked me where I came from and humbly request to get connected with them on WeChat and to take a picture together. I had never been so popular in Nepal. Since then, China has been my second home and a constant source for my knowledge and skill developments with special reference to modern technology.
    In mid-January 2020, a news of COVID-19 spread like a wild fire on the one hand and I myself as an alumni in one of the Chinese Universities really shocked me while I used to remember my Chinese friends, their families and the entire Chinese people on the other. Undoubtedly, it was a humanitarian crisis but the interpretations were made according to their convenience from country to country for unknown reasons. During the earthquake in Nepal 2015, prior to my China visit I had a wonderful opportunity to work as an interpreter with the Chinese medical team (Blue Sky Rescue) at Sankhu Kathmandu, one of the most devastated areas from the disaster. Unfortunately, I was not in a position to assist the ailing people of COVID-19 except focusing my mind on news headlines and praying for the victims.
    Nepal-China relations are based on mutual harmony as good neighbours. In every twists and turns, ups and downs China has not only been proven as a good neighbour but also a benevolent partner in many dimensions. The continuity of history in bilateral relations is dated back to the marriage between Songtsen Gampo and Bhrikuti. Furthermore, there is a significant contribution of China in the overall national development of Nepal. Today, China is the largest exporter in the global market whereas Nepal is lucky to have such a country as its immediate neighbor. How Nepal can be benefited from China will largely depend on the Nepal’s diplomatic maneuver with its sincerity and good intentions.
    It is in the best national interest of Nepal to be abided by the ethical norms and values in its policy not to hurt a neighbour. There is a freedom for media, right to inform to national and global community in a number of issues. COVID-19 as a humanitarian issue demands an ethical reporting by writings, pictures, and postures in spite of the individual loyalty of a media house. Sensationalization of issue is not an ethical journalism which is detrimental to the bilateral relations and hurting the neighbors at the cost of diplomacy. At this juncture, we need to demonstrate as an ally with true sentiments with the people of China and the entire world and also we need to understand the Chinese expectations from Nepal as a good neighbour. The fundamental fact is that what China expects from us is just a good-will and pray for the quick relief from this traumatic situation.
    Finally, how a nation copes with dangers and dilemmas posed by natural and man-made disasters is determined by the quality of its leadership. The Chinese President Xi Jin Ping in battling COVID-19 says, “The Chinese nation has experienced many ordeals in its history but it has never been overwhelmed. Instead, it has become more and more courageous, growing up and rising up from the hardships. “This humanitarian crisis has to be settled through the unified diagnostic effort and pioneering to get rid of this crisis globally. Everyone has to honestly stipulate the fact that Xi Jin Ping has expressed and Nepal also has to express its solidarity with the Chinese and the entire world as a global family. Owing to the existing fact, we are a part of capitalism and globalization. One could be pushed into many needs that might ultimately change the loyalty overnight. But we should not forget the reality that we cannot change our neighbour. My humble pray goes for all the victims around the world from the bottom of my heart. May Lord Buddha bless all of us in our endeavour.
    (The writer is an alumni of the Hebei University of Economics and Business)

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