Ghamgeen Izat Rashed, his wife Hu Changli, and their daughter Hu Yang Abu (COURTESY PHOTO)
I am from the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraq but for the last 17 years, Wuhan has been my home. That's more than the age of my daughter, Hu Yang Abu, 8, who was born in the city in Hubei Province, central China.
I came to Wuhan as a PhD student on a scholarship. After getting my degree in electrical engineering at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, I stayed on and today, I teach graduate, postgraduate and PhD students at Wuhan University. My wife Hu Changli is a Wuhan girl, so you see the city has given me love, happiness as well as my livelihood.
That is why when COVID-19 hit the city and many foreigners started leaving, we decided to stay on. "We are not alone here," I told my family. "There are 11 million people like us and if they can ride it out, so can we."
I was not worried because I had faith in the government. They are strong and incredible at management and I knew they would be able to take care of the problem.
Look at how they worked it out. Two special hospitals were built in less than a fortnight, thousands of medical workers were brought in from different parts of the country, and the communities took care of their residents.
We stayed entirely at home for the 76 days that Wuhan was locked down but we never lacked any daily necessities. The community workers brought us food and essentials and I would go down from our apartment on the 11th floor to receive them, that was the only time I ventured out in the beginning.
Then they set up a no-direct-contact supermarket inside the community to make things easier. You can't imagine how the government and the people worked and we appreciate that. Plus there was the special development of the Internet and the ways you could use it, helping you to cope with everything, from medical consultations to communication and work.
My university moved fast. Within two weeks they had set up an Internet platform to hold online classes, contacted all students, and paid for their Internet connection. So during daytime from February 17 onward, we were busy as usual, the only difference was that I was teaching from home and not in the classroom.
The Immigration Department also set up a health platform. We checked our temperature daily and kept them informed through it as well as received information.
My wife works for a personnel training company and she too worked from home while our daughter had online classes. When the lockdown ended, my first trip outside the community was to the university in late April, and I drove there slowly.
We followed the news every day and now, it's time again to do so with the Two Sessions, annual meetings of China's national legislature and top advisory body, kicking off. These meetings are extremely important as they set out detailed, long-time plans for the development of each sector, and open up the country further.
That is one big difference from the parliamentary meetings in Iraq. When the Council of Representatives meets in Baghdad, they discuss plans and budgets for about a year, it's very short term, and they meet whenever they have an agenda to discuss.
In China, we have seen the plans announced at the Two Sessions implemented within the deadline and the development of the country becoming more pronounced, especially in the last five years. Last year, the government met the deadline for the eradication of absolute poverty despite a global pandemic.
As for Wuhan, I have witnessed the changes in the city with my own eyes—what it was in 2004 and what it is today. I am delighted that in spite of the epidemic, Wuhan was among the cities with the top 10 GDPs in China in 2020.
My New Year wish is that all Chinese, and especially the people of Wuhan, enjoy health and success, and that everything gets better. I am hoping the Two Sessions this year will announce more investment for projects in Wuhan so that Wuhan will grow more and more. BR
The author is an Iraqi associate professor at Wuhan University
(Print Edition Title: More Development for Wuhan)
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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