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Chinese businessman brings China, Hungary closer in battle against COVID-19

(People's Daily Online)    17:01, May 13, 2020

A Chinese businessman in Hungary, Li Yi (alias), has teamed up with his friends to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, bringing China and the European country closer as they do so.

Li arrived in Hungary after much struggle from southeast China’s Fujian province when he was 18. After starting out as a street vendor, the 38-year-old man is now a successful businessman, selling containers of goods to his motherland.

In the early morning of Jan.23 local time, when he heard the news that all channels of departure in Wuhan, epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, were closed, he felt that he had to do something.

He then set up a temporary chat group on social media, bringing together 26 members who had not known each other before but who shared concerns over their compatriots back home.

Since then, Li and his friends have been busy gathering donations, purchasing medical supplies, and sending them to their motherland.

Li recalled that a friend living in Argentina asked him to purchase some medical supplies and send them to China, transferring 30,000 yuan to him for the task.

One entrepreneur, who had already arranged for someone to send daily necessities to hospitals in urgent need in Wuhan, asked Li to purchase 3,000 protective goggles and donate them to hospitals in the city.

"Would you like to donate the money for our skiing trip to medical workers in Wuhan's hospitals to buy personal protective equipment?" Li asked his son. When he agreed, they cancelled their skiing trip to Austria.

But it was the actions of one friend from Beijing that moved the businessman the most. The man donated money to Wuhan even though he had to pay massive medical bills for his mother, who was hospitalized with cancer.

In addition to donating money, some of his friends in Vienna also took on the heaviest responsibility of purchasing medical supplies, according to Li.

“When we knew that there were supplies in cities 300km away, my enthusiastic assistant, a Hungarian in his 40s, volunteered to bring the supplies there, like his own country was experiencing the crisis,” the businessman noted.

Li was also very thankful for the 16 Chinese tourists who volunteered to bring anti-virus supplies back to China by plane despite the transportation difficulties involved. Compatriots from airlines, airport staff and even some foreigners at the airport also lent a helping hand.

“People from different countries are joining the fight against the virus with the greatest goodwill and trust,” Li said, calling for global cooperation to fight against the pandemic.

“I didn’t know the names of these tourists, and they didn’t know who had donated the supplies. But we all knew that we had to help our motherland,” he added.

“I was really happy when Wuhan lifted its lockdown, but what I didn’t expect was for the virus to spread to Hungary,” the businessman said.

When Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban confirmed the country’s first two cases of coronavirus on March 4, Li and his friends decided to donate goggles to the hospital where the two patients had been admitted as soon as they could. His assistant drove to send supplies to the hospital, and said he was proud to donate supplies to his own country on behalf of a Chinese friend.

Later, they also donated protective masks and hand sanitizer to a number of organizations and three schools in Budapest.

On top of that, overseas Chinese organizations in Hungary purchased medical supplies from China and sent them to local schools, nursing homes, hospitals and government agencies.

“Hungary is our second home, and we couldn’t just stand idly by as it was hit by the virus,” Li said.

By April 5, 21 chartered planes carrying anti-pandemic supplies from China had landed in Hungary, demonstrating China's kindness to the European country, he said, adding that he was impressed when Hungarian Prime Minister underlined that a friend in need is a friend indeed, and expressed gratitude to China for its assistance.

When the COVID-19 outbreak brought Budapest to a temporary standstill, Li's business almost ground to a halt. However, Li still promised to pay is assistant’s wages for the next few months so he could repay his housing loan, which touched the Hungarian deeply.

When Hungary announced the second phase of easing of restrictions on May 4, which allowed the terraces of restaurants and cafes to open, the businessman said he recalled the situation in Wuhan several months ago.

Thanks to rigorous and effective measures, including medical staff across the country rushing to assist the city, and closed-off management of communities and villages, life gradually returned to normal in the city, Li said, adding that China’s nationwide anti-virus efforts made him realize that a strong motherland means all overseas Chinese can receive strong support.

He expects that Hungary will soon win the fight against the pandemic, just like Wuhan did, so that he can soon visit the city together with his son.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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