China Supports Africa’s Fight against COVID-19 and Economic Recovery with Concrete Actions
Ambassador Wang Xuefeng
4 June 2021
“We are all waves of the same sea.” Chinese President Xi Jinping quoted an ancient Roman philosopher at the Global Health Summit on 21st May to highlight the importance of solidarity and cooperation in the face of the severe Covid-19 pandemic. Virus knows no borders and we humanity have to rise and fall together. The joint response of China and Africa to the COVID-19 challenge through mutual support and assistance has been a good example. When COVID-19 struck, African countries and the AU gave China firm support at a tough time during its fight against the virus, a support that China will never forget. China has also been deeply concerned about the evolving COVID-19 situation in Africa and has been supporting Africa’s fight against the pandemic with concrete actions.
As a continent with the largest number of developing countries, Africa faces even greater challenges amid this global public health emergency. Relating to the difficulties Africa faces, China has provided assistance to its best capacity. Ever since the hit of the virus, China has provided multiple batches of medical supplies and vaccine donations to African countries. China has also sent 15 ad hoc medical expert teams to Africa and swiftly set up a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 43 African hospitals to deliver containment experience, solutions and supplies. The 46 Chinese medical teams across Africa stood up to the challenge instantly to support local response efforts and help our African brothers build a strong defense line to safeguard people's lives and health.
As COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, China has been honoring commitment to making vaccines a global public good. However, there are a few countries which pursue “vaccine nationalism” through accumulating large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines for themselves, resulting in unfair distribution of vaccines globally. Many developing countries including those in Africa are facing vaccine shortages. China has been actively fulfilling its solemn commitment that African countries will be among the first to benefit once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China. So far, China has provided vaccines to more than 30 African countries, and is cooperating with Egypt to produce COVID-19 vaccines locally to help Africa build its own manufacture capability.
While helping Africa fight the pandemic, China has also promoted China-Africa cooperation to help Africa’s development get back on track. At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held in June last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed China and Africa to strengthen Belt and Road cooperation and accelerate the follow-ups to the FOCAC Beijing Summit, with greater priority given to cooperation on public health, economic reopening, and people’s livelihood, so as to cushion the impact of COVID-19. China has signed debt suspension agreements or reaching similar understanding with 19 African countries, and canceled interest-free loans due to mature by the end of 2020 for 15 African countries. At the United Nations Security Council Open Debate held on 19th May, 2021, China and Africa jointly launched the Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development, calling on the international community to practice true multilateralism and galvanize strong support for Africa’s development. All these are true testaments to the special bond between China and Africa who reach out to each other, especially during trying times.
The mutual support and assistance between China and Botswana in combating the virus shoulder to shoulder is yet another example of China-Africa true, lasting friendship. During China’s most difficult time, President Masisi sent messages of solidarity to the Chinese Government and people. Botswana friends from all walks of life also voiced support for China. China’s central and local governments as well as enterprises donated around 10 batches of medical supplies to Botswana, including around 500,000 face masks, 50,000 testing kits and hundreds of ventilators and oxygen generators. China’s health experts held video conference twice with the Botswana side to share anti-pandemic experience and knowledge. The 16th Chinese Medical Team traveled all the way to join Botswana’s medical staff on the front line, providing timely and valuable support. Meanwhile, China overcame the difficulties of the pandemic and resumed bilateral cooperation projects in an orderly manner. The China-aid Mmopane Primary School has been completed and put into use. Procedures of China importing Botswana beef are being finalized. The China-Botswana Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, aiming to promote Botswana’s economic recovery, has been signed. Not long ago, the Chinese Government donated 200,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines to the Botswana Government, out of which a special allocation to inoculate about 2500 Chinese nationals in Botswana has been made, which vividly showcases the fraternity between our two countries.
Just as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out at the United Nations Security Council Open debate last month, China never steps away from anything as long as it is good for African countries. And China never hesitates to undertake anything as long as it is good for the African people. Standing firmly side by side, China and Africa will forge ahead together in building an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future.