By He Yin
Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 17 emphasized that China and Africa must always put people and their lives front and center, and do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives and health.
Xi made the remarks in a keynote speech titled “Defeating COVID-19 with Solidarity and Cooperation” delivered when chairing the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 via video link in Beijing on June 17.
The Chinese President called on the two sides to stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together, enhancing China-Africa cooperation, upholding multilateralism, taking China-Africa friendship forward, and building a China-Africa community of health for all and an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
A series of important proposals put forward by Xi at the Summit showcased China and Africa’s resolution to defeat COVID-19 with solidarity and cooperation, offered a way forward for their joint fight against the pandemic and bilateral pragmatic cooperation, and charted the course for the future of China-Africa relations.
Xi’s proposals also injected strong positive energy into the international community’s joint efforts for an early victory over the pandemic.
Held at a crucial moment of global pandemic response, the summit carried special significance.
China, the world’s largest developing country, and Africa, the continent with the largest number of developing countries, have fully demonstrated their solid friendship and ties, as they discussed joint response to COVID-19 and renewed their fraternity at the summit. The 2.6 billion Chinese and African people are an important force for securing a victory over the global COVID-19 fight.
At the Summit, China and Africa adopted the Joint Statement of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, reached consensus on a range of major issues and sent a strong message of solidarity and cooperation between China and Africa to the rest of world.
Enhancing solidarity and cooperation to combat COVID-19 at this special moment has demonstrated the sense of responsibility of the China-Africa community with a shared future.
Africa gave China invaluable support at the height of China’s battle with the epidemic. Over 50 African leaders expressed their sympathy and support to China, and African countries donated anti-epidemic supplies to China.
In return, when Africa was struck by the virus, China was the first to rush in with assistance and has since stood firm with the African people. The Chinese government, enterprises, and social organizations have sent a tremendous amount of medical supplies to over 50 African countries and the African Union (AU).
China has also sent 148 medical experts to 11 African countries, organized over 30 video conferences for exchanges between Chinese and African health experts, and held nearly 400 training sessions.
Besides, 46 resident Chinese medical teams in Africa are now helping with COVID-19 containment efforts locally.
At the summit, China announced to continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response to COVID-19. China will lose no time in following through on the measures it announced at the opening of the World Health Assembly, and continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China.
China pledged that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.
Such measures boosted African countries’ confidence in securing a victory over the pandemic. African leaders present at the summit pointed out that President Xi supports African countries’ fight against the pandemic in good faith and attaches particular importance to African people’s lives and health.
Taking a forward-looking approach, the summit also reached an important consensus on enhancing China-Africa public health cooperation and building a China-Africa community of health for all.
China has always been improving the public health capacity in African countries. To enhance public health cooperation with Africa is incorporated in both in the ten cooperation plans between China and Africa and the eight major initiatives for China-Africa cooperation proposed by China.
President Xi announced at the virtual event of the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly in May that China would establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate the building of the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity
“China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year,” Xi said at the summit, adding that the country will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals. “Together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all,” the Chinese President declared.
“This Extraordinary China-Africa Solidarity Summit against COVID-19 demonstrates the depth and resilience of solidarity between China and Africa,” said AU chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that the in-depth cooperation between China and Africa showcases the solidarity and leadership needed by the world to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Xi put forward, “Humanity will ultimately defeat the virus, and the Chinese and African people are poised to embrace better days ahead.” The confidence, resolution, and vision the summit demonstrated have added new substance to the China-Africa comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
China and Africa have always rendered each other mutual understanding, support, and assistance, and set up a new model of international cooperation in fighting the pandemic.
Remaining committed to safeguarding global public health security and building a global community of health for all, the two sides will surely make greater contributions to promoting world peace and development.