Sheep diplomacy amid pandemic: Mongolia sends China sheep via land bubble
Herds of 4000 of the promised 30000 sheep – from Mongolia to China – arrived in a northern China town earlier this month after being tested, quarantined, and travelling over a designated land route in disinfected trucks.Updated: Oct 30, 2020, 16:37 IST
It is not quite the secure air bubble arrangements that governments worldwide are struggling to put in place for safe international travel in a pandemic, but China and Mongolia have implemented something similar over land – for 30000 sheep.
Herds of 4000 of the promised 30000 sheep – from Mongolia to China – arrived in a northern China town earlier this month after being tested, quarantined, and travelling over a designated land route in disinfected trucks.
In late February, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga became the second foreign leader to visit China – after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen – and promised to donate 30000 sheep as a mark of support and solidarity to Beijing’s fight against Covid-19 outbreak, which was raging in China then.
The gift of the lamb is considered to be a sign of deep friendship in Mongolia.
As promised, and despite a delay, over a dozen trucks loaded with 4000 sheep from Mongolia arrived in the China-Mongolia border city of Erenhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) a week ago.
The sheep, as per the arrangement between Mongolia’s food and agriculture ministry and China’s ministry of commerce, had to be first tested thoroughly in Mongolia and kept quarantined from other herds.
The process in Mongolia started on September 18.
“After the live sheep were quarantined in the immunization zone for 30 days, the Chinese pre-inspection veterinarian and technicians carried out inspection and quarantine on the live sheep,” the People’s Daily online said in a report.
Subsequently, the massive trucks in which the animals would be transported had to be disinfected and separated as well.
So, were the drivers and staff deployed to accompany the sheep – tested for Covid-19 and quarantined.
A handover ceremony for the first batch was held simultaneously in Zamyn-Uud in Mongolia and Erenhot in China on October 22.
Then the remaining half of the secure bubble for the sheep kicked in.
“The sheep entered the country at Erenhot Port in North China’s IMAR where they will undergo quarantine and inspection and will be slaughtered and stored within 14 days before they are transferred to Hubei province (in central China where the Covid-19 pandemic was first reported),” the state-run China Daily said in a report.
“Once they arrive at the isolation point, the immigration policemen in protective clothing have unloaded the sheep and inspected the vehicle body again to complete the closed loop,” the PD report said.
The rest of the sheep are expected to arrive in China by the middle of November as part of – how Chinese state media described it -- reflecting “…the deep friendship of the Mongolian people towards the Chinese people.”