Let's show support for China

Feb 12, 2020

Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Elizabeth Gaines, Chief Executive Officer

Like so many global epidemics before it Ebola, SARS or AIDS with the outbreak of coronavirus we are at risk of allowing fear to trump empathy.

In these times of crisis, we can lose sight of those who are sick or have lost loved ones and those who are helping others or working to contain the harm of the virus. Our thoughts and prayers are with these people suffering, and the many millions of others confined to their homes or banned from travelling.

Our hearts also go out to all the Chinese Australians affected, especially with increasing reports of this community being the subject of fear-driven racism within our own borders. We must reach out and support the members of our Chinese community and show that we stand with them. We call for this compassion because we have come to know the Chinese people well over the past 30 years and have been regular visitors to their country. There are many more similarities between Australians and our Chinese neighbours than differences, and while their political system is different to ours, as a people, they are driven by compassion and desire for a better future for their communities.

The level of alarm about another sudden, potentially deadly virus is to be expected.

As a global community, we must contain it and prevent as many people as possible from becoming sick. We care about our health, safety, and those of the people we love.

As Australia's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has noted, Australia has been one of the most proactive countries.

This is a global challenge however, and we must take these necessary precautions with compassion and humanity.

While the worst news may still be ahead of us, China will recover and has demonstrated its commitment to protect its people and the citizens of the world. This is despite the hard, short-term impact these measures will have on its economy. We must appreciate the country's sacrifices and stand ready to support China however we can, for the benefit of both our peoples.

We are living in a globally connected world where our health and the health of our economy are closely linked to other nations. Australia's relationship with China is multi-layered and complex, however as good friends, neighbours and trading partners, it is pretty simple - the Chinese people deserve our support.

Our country has endured terrible bushfires and will take years to recover as we rapidly develop techniques to help mitigate the reoccurrence of fires and devastation of this scale.

We have been fortunate to receive an enormous outpouring of love and support from around the globe. China is now dealing with its own critical emergency and needs the support and understanding of the international community.

The most useful thing we can do is assist people who are directly impacted or at risk, including by donating to organisations on the ground that are providing shelter, masks, and medical supplies.

That's why Fortescue has donated thousands of face masks to support health workers in the immediate response and will now provide $1 million to Wuhan-based customer Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation (WISCO) to support the conversion of the WISCO Sports Stadium into a 300-bed shelter hospital to treat patients who have been infected.

We will look for other ways to provide meaningful help, but the little things we can do to support each other are just as important.

Like going to your local Chinese restaurant or reaching out with a hand and a smile to any Chinese person. It all sends the critical signal that we stand together.

We are confident the Chinese people will rebound with the resilience they have demonstrated time and again over thousands of years and Fortescue will continue to support China throughout this hardship and beyond.

Now is the time to really show we do stand together. That we remember we are common and unique, the one people on our little planet. We are all vulnerable and we all need each other.