Phnom Penh (FN), May 13 – People from all over the place celebrate New Year annually. They gather, sing, dance, and spend time with their relatives. However, on 31 December 2019, China has sent a shocked message to the World Health Organization (WHO) about the presence of a new type of respiratory syndrome.

After informing the WHO, Chinese authorities announced on 1 January 2020 the closure of Huanan Market, a seafood and live animal wholesale market, located in Wuhan, a city of Hubei province with a total population of over 11 million. The closure came shortly after Wuhan’s hospital found more than 40 cases of Covid-19 on 17 November 2019.

The condition, first reported by Chinese experts, is caused by the Coronavirus, a type of SARS virus, which emerged in 2003 and killed about 650 people in China and Hong Kong. Significantly, the outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019 spread faster than the SARS outbreak did in 2003.

After the closure of Hubei province, China had also evacuated its citizens from overseas. Some countries, including the United States, South Korea, Japan, and other European countries have evacuated their citizens from Hubei. China had shut down Hubei province and its flights, while its neighbour countries had also closed the border.

The outbreak caused by the Coronavirus has led to the suspension of Chinese New Year celebrations in the attempt to prevent the spread of virus.

As the world closes its door with China due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia reaffirmed at a press conference on 30 January 2020 that Cambodia will not evacuate its officials and students from China nor ban the Chinese flights to the Kingdom as it would kill Cambodian economy and cut off Cambodia-China relations.

"We do not need to announce the closure, as China is already banning flights to other countries, not just flights from Wuhan to Cambodia or other countries, but also from Wuhan to Beijing, and other cities in China and suspend all means of transportation,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The premier also encouraged Cambodian citizens who work and study in Hubei to remain where they are and extend assistances to China during the hard time. Prime Minister Hun Sen highly commended the Chinese government's prompt and effective prevention and control measures against the pandemic.

"China also observers our behaviour. Why do we stand with them during peaceful time and leave them during difficult time. More than 1,400 million Chinese dared to stay there. Why couldn't we?”, he asked.

Not only appealing for Cambodian people to remain in China, prime minister also announced that he would visit China to provide spiritual support to the ironclad friend and give warmth to Cambodian students there. The statement was made at a gathering with Cambodians in South Korea in the evening of 3 February 2020.

“There is a mocking that Hun Sen cares about people everywhere. He will visit Cambodian people in Wuhan. I told them I will go! If the Chinese government allows”, the premier stressed.

The announcement of the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia has impressed Cambodian and Chinese people. They are deeply touched with the big heart of Cambodia, and the good people-to-people tie and nation-to-nation friendship. At the same time, both Khmer and Chinese people expressed their concerned with the safety of the premier during his visit to China.

Concerned and fully aware of the caring nature of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Chinese government allowed the premier visit Beijing, but not Wuhan as the city was closed for virus prevention.

On 5 February 2020, the premier, accompanied by several Cambodian delegates, visited Beijing, the Republic of China. The working visit was regarded by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a strong demonstration of support for China. "Cambodia is a loyal friend of China," President Xi stressed.

"The visit of Cambodian Prime Minister boosts high confidence for China. Cambodia will continue to support and trust China”, Prime Minister Hun Sen quoted President Xi’s speech on his Facebook page on 5 February 2020.

Observing the loyalty of Cambodian government, Xi Jinping continued: "the two countries' relations will open a new chapter”. The Chinese president has always claimed that Cambodia is China’s ironclad friend. Xi added that both sides also pledged to implement the action plan for building a China-Cambodia community with a shared future and promote the relations to a new level from hereafter.”

Chinese people nicknamed Prime Minister Hun Sen "a handsome man walking backwards" through his great spirit of support for China.

Factories in some countries have been closed due to Covid-19 crisis as China is their main source of raw materials and that factories in Cambodia could also face shutdown due to the lack of raw materials for production.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, on 26 February 2020, through Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian, urged China to export its raw materials to Cambodia through flights.

Following the premier’s request, China has supplied raw materials through seven ships to Cambodia within just 10 days. With this great assistance, China is regarded as Cambodia’s ironclad friend and community of shared future.

As the pace of the Covid-19 spread in China started to slow down, the Chinese people composed a song called “Thank you, World!” to express their gratitude towards countries and people who provided medical assistance and emotional support to China during their hardship.

The song also mentioned Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who paid a “special visit” to China during the outbreak, indicating his strong support for Beijing's to fight against the pandemic battle.

On 11 February 2020, WHO announced a name for the new Coronavirus disease: COVID-19. The announcement came after over 45,000 cases reported, 1,118 deaths, and spread across nearly 30 countries and territories.

According to the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, identifying new virus as Covid-19 is aimed to avoid discrimination that has impacts on political, economic and social impacts.

China reported no new cases since the end of March 2020 until now. Even with the new imported cases, the Chinese medical team can still control the situation.

After successful efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, China had immediately sent medical experts and other essential medical supplies to assist countries across the globe, including Italy.

Cambodia, which also suffered from Covid-19, was also taken care of by Chinese leaders. China sent seven medical experts with medical supplies to Cambodia. The Chinese Ministry of Defense also sent six professionals with medical supplies to Cambodia.

Chinese Ministry of Defense had sent aids twice. First, four medical experts with two tons of equipment and second another four medical experts with 16 tons of equipment.

The Chinese private companies also donated necessary medical equipment in the prevention of Covid-19 to various public and private institutions in Cambodia. On top of boxes of aids, there are some saying as follows:

Mekong-Lancang, same source. China-Cambodia, same heart.
Friend in need is a friend indeed.
Community of shared future. Same breath, fight together!
Trust each other, help each other!
Trust as a confidant; help one another during difficult time!
The ironclad friend, the soul mate.

All of the slogans printed on medical supplies boxes sent from China to Cambodia showed sympathy for the deep connection between China-Cambodia. This hardship reflects deep connection between the two countries, which correlated with the President Xi Jinping’s statement made after his meeting with the Cambodian Prime Minister on 5 February 2020. The Chinese president announced, "from this year on, Cambodia-China relations have opened a new chapter, implementing a policy of community of a shared future and can promote the two countries’ relations to a new level.”

As of end of April 2020, Covid-19 has killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than 80,000 people in China. Cambodia has 122 infected cases; 120 recovered, according to the Ministry of Health’s recent report.

As of 30 April 2020, at least 3,232,061 cases were reported globally; 228,505 died, and 1,007,865 recovered.

It is worth recalling that Covid-19 is not the first pandemic in the world. The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic infected at least 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide. Then came the outbreak of HIV in Africa. The SARS began in 2003 in China. The H1N1 bird flu in the Americas or Mexico, occurred in 2009. Then, the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014. The MERS outbreak started in the Middle East in 2015, and the Zika outbreak occurred in Brazil in 2016.