French con­sulate in Wuhan re­mains busy

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG XIAODONG and ZHOU LIHUA in Wuhan Liu Kun con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangx­i­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

While most other diplo­mats in Wuhan have left the city fol­low­ing the out­break of the novel coro­n­avirus, Olivier Guy­on­va­rch, con­sul gen­eral for France in Wuhan, de­cided to stay with his col­leagues. His con­sulate is the only one in the city that re­mains open.

“Our friends are facing difficulti­es. We want to stay along,” Guy­on­va­rch said. “We were the first con­sulate in Wuhan, and there is a lot of deep co­op­er­a­tion be­tween France and Wuhan. And for us, it was not an op­tion to close the con­sulate.”

Usually about 40 people work in the French con­sulate, opened in 1998. Now, four con­sulate staff vol­un­teered to con­tinue to work keep­ing in touch with French people liv­ing in Wuhan and tak­ing care of re­la­tions be­tween France and Hubei prov­ince, he said.

Some of the French staff had left Wuhan for va­ca­tion be­fore the lock­down of the city, and some Chi­nese staff mem­bers have been un­able to re­turn be­cause of traf­fic re­stric­tions, he said.

“So we are still quite busy,” he said. “Ser­vices of the con­sulate such as cul­tural and education sec­tions have stopped.”

Wuhan is the Cen­tral China city with the clos­est ties with France, and nor­mally more than 500 French people live in the city. Fol­low­ing the lock­down, the con­sulate helped or­ga­nize three flights that took more than 200 French people and their fam­ily mem­bers to France, he said.

“In the name of the French gov­ern­ment, and in my own name, I would like to ex­press my sol­i­dar­ity with the people of Wuhan and Hubei,” he said. “There are two main rea­sons why we re­main open in Wuhan. The first is to help the French who need as­sis­tance. Sec­ond, to show sol­i­dar­ity with the lo­cal people and with the gov­ern­ment.”

He said the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is tak­ing very strong mea­sures to fight the dis­ease, and he hopes the mea­sures will ful­fill their pur­pose.

Guy­on­va­rch said he and his col­leagues have been fol­low­ing reg­u­la­tions and ad­vice from the lo­cal gov­ern­ment for dis­ease con­trol and preven­tion, such as min­i­miz­ing travel in the city. He said he has found that ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties like food and wa­ter are avail­able.

“I re­ally would like to ex­press my sup­port for the med­i­cal staff in Wuhan. They are he­roes and are the first-line fight­ers against the dis­ease,” he said. The French gov­ern­ment has pro­vided pro­tec­tion ma­te­ri­als such as masks to Wuhan, he said.

Many oth­ers in Wuhan, such as street clean­ers and people work­ing in the mar­kets to sell food, also de­serve grat­i­tude for what they are do­ing, he said.

“They face risks be­cause they face many people dur­ing the day,” he said. “They are also very, very coura­geous. So ev­ery­body is try­ing to do his best to fight the dis­ease.”

De­spite the difficulti­es Wuhan faces, the city will even­tu­ally re­cover, he said.

“Dur­ing its long history, Wuhan has faced many difficulti­es. This time I think that we can be con­fi­dent in the strength and the re­silience of Wuhan’s people to go through this very dif­fi­cult time,” he said. “But I also feel very, very sad for Wuhan be­cause Wuhan has done a lot dur­ing the past 10 years in mod­ern­iza­tion and in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion, and part of this great ac­com­plish­ment has been de­stroyed by this dis­ease.

“We hope that Wuhan will re­cover as quickly as pos­si­ble. We will stay with Wuhan to help the city, and help the people get bet­ter and bet­ter through co­op­er­a­tion with friends.”

Olivier Guy­on­va­rch, con­sul gen­eral for France in Wuhan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.