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‘Don’t overreact’: Chinese envoy in Jakarta responds to Indonesia’s travel ban amid virus spread

Dian Septiari The Jakarta Post  Tue, February 4, 2020

Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian speaks to the media on Tuesday. He warned Indonesia that its “overreaction” in trying to halt the spread of a coronavirus by imposing a travel ban and import bans would harm relations with China, as well as Indonesia’s own economy.  (JP/Dian Septiari/JP/Dian Septiari)

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Beijing is seemingly displeased with Jakarta’s decision to impose a travel ban to and from China amid its efforts to prevent a deadly coronavirus from spreading to the archipelago, with a Chinese envoy saying that such a ban could harm Indonesia’s tourism and economy.

The travel ban, which is to be in effect from 12 a.m. on Wednesday, would prevent people who have stayed more than two weeks in China to visit or transit in the country. Indonesia is to also suspend visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese nationals.

Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian asked Indonesia to follow the advice of the World Health Organization, which — despite having declared a global emergency over the deadly coronavirus — is not recommending countries restrict travel or trade with China.

“In this situation, we need to be calm. Don’t overreact and cause a negative impact on investment and the economy,” he told reporters in Jakarta during a press briefing on Tuesday.

By imposing a travel ban, Indonesia has followed in the footsteps of some other countries, such as the United States and Singapore — all countries with confirmed coronavirus cases — in implementing travel restrictions to and from China.

Xiao said he understood that some countries were taking “rational action” in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, such as by tightening immigration security. However, he said the ban was against the WHO’s recommendation.

“Indonesia and China are neighbors and good friends,” he said. “I believe that actions other than restrictions will have a direct impact on the relationship.”

He said China is one of the biggest sources of investment for Indonesia, as well as the second-largest contributor of foreign tourists with roughly 2 million Chinese travelers going to the Southeast Asian country per year.

“[The ban] actually harms Indonesia’s tourism and economy,” Xiao said, adding that the impact from the restrictive measures still needed to be calculated but he hoped that such measures would not need to be taken.

“We hope that Indonesia can be rational and not experience any negative impact,” he said.

As of Friday, the new coronavirus originating from the city of Wuhan in China has killed 427 people, including two deaths outside China, and infected nearly 20,000 people globally, Reuters reported. (eyc)


From: THE JAKARTA POST (INDONESIA) Tue, February 4, 2020

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