Coronavirus: Malaysia gets first batch of Chinese aid to fight virus
- As cases soar close to 1,000, thousands of masks from China have arrived in Kuala Lumpur. Test kits, ventilators and sanitisers will soon be coming too
- Academics say reciprocal aid-giving between the two nations is evidence of their close ties, despite Malaysia’s recent political turmoil
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia said that it had sent 5,000 masks and 10,000 face shields to Sungai Buloh hospital where many patients who have tested positive for the Covid-19 disease caused by the virus are being treated.
On Friday, Malaysia said that 100,000 face masks were donated by the China-Asia Economic Development Association. And next week, China will send 3,500 test kits to the country, as well as more supplies such as ventilators and sanitisers when possible, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian said.
“Thank you to the Chinese government for not waiting for a long time to help,” he said.
As the global coronavirus crisis escalates this friendship has come to the fore, according to Hoo Chiew Ping, an international relations expert and academic.
“The Malaysian expats in China together with their friends back home mobilised the resources to make it possible for the first batch of aid,” she said.
This year was set to be the ‘Malaysia-China Year of Culture and Tourism 2020’, but the coronavirus has put paid to that, with tourist numbers plummeting amid the global pandemic. On Wednesday, the Tourism Ministry also announced that it would be cancelling Visit Malaysia Year 2020.
A new coalition that took power this month, in what some have branded a “political coup”, appears intent to continue working closely with China.
On one of his first days in office in early March, foreign minister Hishammuddin took a call with Wang, his Chinese counterpart, describing him as “a brother and a dear friend” and pledging to combat the coronavirus together.
China’s main infrastructure project in Malaysia, the 640km East Coast Rail Link, was reportedly still on track last month despite the virus crisis, but works have since been halted because of the partial lockdown – a government-ordered two-week period of restricted movement enforced in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The lockdown requires people to stay at home until the end of March, unless they are buying or delivering necessities, seeking health care or performing official duties. Anyone found breaching the order faces up to six months in jail, a fine, or both.
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