In the early hours of April 17th 2020, an airplane landed at Sofia Airport. It was personally met by Bulgarian Health Minister Kiril Ananiyev and Mr. Dong Xiaojun, China’s ambassador to Bulgaria. On the Bulgarian side, one of the most senior officials in the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior, Mr. Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov, was also present.
The plane brought anti-epidemic medical supplies offered by the Chinese government to the Bulgarian state. It is only a part of a series of similar initiatives.
A day before, the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had announced the incoming donation mentioning that NATO plane that would carry the materials and also that the donation was agreed upon following a conversation between Borisov and the President and Prime Minister of China, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang.
“It will contain high-end respirators and masks for the doctors. The aircraft will be piloted by US pilots – two women. Both the US ambassador and the Chinese ambassador and our minister of health will be waiting for it”, Boyko Borisov said.
As early as March 18th, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang himself said he understood that the coronavirus was a major challenge for Bulgaria. He expressed China’s willingness to assist Bulgaria by donating masks, goggles, gloves, and other protective equipment. Li Keqiang also mentioned his willingness to assist Bulgaria in establishing contacts with Chinese manufacturers of protective gear and ventilators.
On March 22nd, the Chinese community in Bulgaria donated protective masks and gowns to four hospitals in Bulgaria. The campaign was organized by the Chinese community in Bulgaria with the assistance of the Chinese Embassy. The donation includes 2,000 disposable and reusable masks, 1,000 pairs of gloves and protective gowns that are extremely important to physicians.
“The donation size is not large because it was collected by the Chinese community overnight”, Bei Zhen, a Chinese national explained.
“We are always ready to help with whatever we can, since we live in Bulgaria and love this country as our second motherland”, added Bei Zhen standing right next to the Chinese Consul Ma Zhen.
“We need such a donation right now”, said Dr. Diana Dimitrova, chief of the Pirogov hospital Emergency Department. Six coronavirus patients are currently in the Pirogov Hospital. All of them are symptomatic and one is in more serious condition, reported Dr. Dimitrova.
There is no shortage of Chinese donations to smaller Bulgarian cities and even neighborhoods. For example, in mid-April, the Chinese city of Jingxiang, Jiangxi Province, donated 6,000 disposable protective masks to the small mountain town of Troyan. The leadership of the Chinese municipality had been in contact with the Troyan municipality even before the pandemic started to grow. The Chinese city, which has a highly developed craft sector, has stated its desire to establish friendly contacts with Troyan. The Mayor of Troyan’s response is that he will be pleased to receive a delegation from the city of Jingxiang after the pandemic is over and during this visit the partnership proposal and the possibilities for cooperation will be discussed.
The Nadezhda metropolitan area received a large donation of protective masks and protective suits on April 27 from its Chinese twin city Lishui. The masks and suits will be provided to the municipal hospitals in Sofia. The donation includes 9,000 disposable medical surgical masks, 500 disposable N 95 type masks and 100 disposable protective suits.
The presentation of the donation in the courtyard of the Second MBH was attended by the Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Finance and Health Doncho Barbalov, the Mayor of the Nadezhda District Eng. Dimitar Dimov, the Head of the Second MBH Assoc. Prof. Stefan Uzunov, representatives of Bulgarian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.
“Our friendship crosses geographic boundaries; it is stronger than metal and stone”, wrote Mayor Lishui.
The Nadezhda and Lishui districts have been twinned since 2012. Their partnership includes sharing good practices, improving the urban environment with the donation of the Friendship Gazebo to the North Park, cultural and educational exchanges through joint events and programs.
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