Chinese students feel at home in Laos

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Many Chinese students taking courses at the National University of Laos say they feel at home and are made to feel welcome, despite claims of discrimination against Chinese nationals in other countries following the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to Vientiane Times this week, Chinese students at the university said their Lao classmates were friendly and showed no sign of fear or reluctance to maintain close contact with them.

A first year Chinese student, Mr Zhang Shijie, said “Lao students are very kind and friendly, and so cute and beautiful. And the teachers are very generous. I feel very welcome in Laos.”

He said there was no hint of the scenarios encountered by some Chinese nationals in Western countries, who had experienced discrimination as the coronavirus spreads. He had not noticed any change in attitude here in Laos, especially at the university.

So far, at least 40,000 people around the world have been infected with the virus and more than 1,000 have died.

Unfortunately, Chinese people in some countries have suffered unreasonable discrimination as fear over the virus mounts. Some Chinese have taken to social media to launch campaigns to counter this over-reaction and are displaying signs which say they are humans, not viruses, and should be treated as humans.

Another Chinese student majoring in Lao language at the National University of Laos’ Dongdok campus, Mr Feng Jianwei, said he had been studying here for five years. He liked Lao culture and food and wanted to strengthen his relations with his Lao friends.

When asked what they did to stay healthy, the two Chinese students said they did some form of exercise after classes or when they had free time, and especially enjoyed basketball. 

Lao students who attend the same classes as Chinese students at the Dongdok campus said they were not afraid to maintain close contact with them, adding that Chinese people were their good friends.

They said one of the reasons they felt comfortable about continuing their friendships was that they were confident in the ability of Lao authorities to prevent Chinese people who are carrying the virus from entering Laos.

The government has installed thermal scanners to detect fever in people at the main border crossings used by Chinese nationals.

The authorities say they have found no one infected with the virus in Laos but warn everyone to be on the alert and take precautions, as well as suspend travel plans to at-risk areas.

“I believe that Chinese students who have entered Laos have had health checks so I feel quite comfortable about being near them,” one Lao student said.

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