China demostrates its commitment to Africa with aid and solidarity to overcome Covid crisis
China plans to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest African countries together with other G20 members
The Covid-19 pandemic is a major challenge to humankind, and it is the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War 2. It has wreaked havoc throughout the world, with 8.4-million people confirmed infected in more than 200 countries and more that 450,000 lives lost.
Not long ago the Chinese government released a white paper, titled Fighting Covid-19: China in Action, which records China’s arduous fight against the epidemic, shares valuable experience and lessons in the prevention, control and medical treatment of the virus, and introduces China’s ideas of strengthening international co-operation in responding to the pandemic in the context of a global battle.
The white paper points out that this is a war that humanity must fight and win. Facing this unknown, unexpected and devastating disease, China launched a resolute battle to prevent and control the spread. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping the Chinese government adopted a people-centred and life-priority strategy, mobilising 1.4-billion Chinese people to lock down cities and communities. This has been the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measure of prevention — an all-out war against the epidemic to cut the chain of transmission.
It can be said that in the face of Covid-19 China and SA, as comprehensive strategic partners, have withstood the test of a severe challenge. At the critical moment of China’s battle against Covid-19 the ANC issued a statement extending solidarity and support to China. President Cyril Ramaphosa and Xi spoke telephonically twice and reached important consensus on supporting the UN and World Health Organisation (WHO), to play an active role in co-ordinating global co-operation against Covid-19.
The friendly ties between the two nations also strengthened people-to-people links. Brett Lyndall Singh, who went by the name A Le while in China, a young doctor who hails from SA and has been studying in a medical school in China, joined the ranks of local Chinese doctors in combating the virus. He also used his personal social platform to record and educate the world about the local fight against Covid-19.
China fully understands what African countries are going through as they face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilising their economies.
Standard Bank made a donation of R750,000 and launched the “Wear Red for China” campaign to support China’s fight against the epidemic. SA mask manufacturer U-Mask donated 30,000 masks to China in the spirit of ubuntu. All of these are a reminder that SA and China are true brothers and sisters in adversity.
Meanwhile, the rest of the African nations and people have chosen to stand firmly alongside China. More than 50 African leaders and governments expressed solidarity and support for China via letters, statements and other means. The Chinese people will always remember the invaluable support Africa gave us at the height of our battle.
China and Africa have enjoyed profound traditional friendship and trust each other as good friends, good partners and good brothers. China fully understands what African countries are going through as they face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilising their economies, and is ready to help within our capabilities. In May, Xi pointed out in his address at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly that “developing countries — African countries in particular — have weaker public health systems. Helping them build capacity must be the top priority in [the] Covid-19 response for the international community.”
He put forward six proposals and announced a series of major measures on the part of China to support the global fight, including $2bn of international aid over two years to establish a co-operation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals, to start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in 2020, to use the Covid-19 vaccine as a global public product once it is developed and completed in China, and to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries together with other G20 members. This demonstrated the idea and commitment from China to build a global community of shared future as well as even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
Even while facing the tremendous pressure of Covid-19, China has swiftly carried out exchanges and co-operation with the international community and WHO from the very beginning, contributing ingenuity and strength to the global fight against the coronavirus, especially providing as much assistance as it can to African countries. China has sent medical supplies to more than 50 African countries and the AU; the Chinese medical teams posted in 45 African countries have actively provided medical services to combat Covid-19 and offered technical training for local people.
Five medical expert groups were dispatched from China to Africa to provide professional support and guidance, and Chinese doctors and experts with extensive clinical experience have held discussions via video link with health officials and medical experts to share information and experience of diagnosis and treatment. The Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations have set a good example by sending three rounds of donations to 54 African countries, including 4.7-million masks, 1.52-million test kits, 400,000 sets of protective clothing, 1-million pairs of medical gloves, 200,000 face shields, 800 ventilators and 4,000 temperature guns.
According to incomplete statistics from the embassy and consulate general of China in SA, the Chinese government andChinese companies in SA have donated more than 5-million masks and more than 100,000 test kits, ventilators, body temperature monitors, infrared thermometers and other personal protective equipment. The Chinese communities in SA have also acted promptly, paying back to society by donating food and winter clothes valued at more than R200,000 to Siyazigabisa Home of Hope, Alexandra and Soweto, relieving the pressure on vulnerable groups there. It is also worth mentioning that charitable donations from the Chinese communities have not ended, and more are still in progress.
As an African saying goes, “Rain does not fall on one roof alone.” In China we believe that though hills and rills set us apart, the moon and wind share our kind heart. To win the battle against the coronavirus and world economic recession requires international co-operation, multilateralism and commitment to building a global community with a shared future. Solidarity and co-operation are the most powerful weapons available to the international community in the war against the pandemic. What we do today determines our fate in the future. China calls on all countries to act promptly, demonstrate solidarity, strengthen co-operation on all fronts, and fight the pandemic together.
As former president Nelson Mandela once said: “When people are determined they can overcome anything.” We firmly believe that as long as all countries unite and co-operate to mount a collective response, humanity will ultimately defeat the virus. The long and deep friendship between China and SA and other African countries will emerge into a brighter future.
• Tang is consul general of the Chinese consulate in Johannesburg.
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