By Fabiola Kemegni
“We pledge that once the development and deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit,” Xi Jinping, Chines President made this declaration in a speech delivered at the China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, held on June 17, 2020.
The summit, jointly proposed by China, the rotating chair of the African Union South Africa and the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Senegal, held virtually and some key participants at the summit were, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders of African countries including members of the African Union, and rotating chairs of major African Sub Regional Organizations.
The China-African Summit on Solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic was centered on the consolidation between Africa and China to strengthen joint efforts in battling the deadly disease that cause havoc around the world.
Chines President acknowledged the onslaught of coronavirus which has taken a heavy toll on countries around the world with the loss of thousands precious lives, he therefore proposed observing a moment of silence for victims who tragically passed away and extended condolences to their families all over the world.
President Xi Jinping equally, disclosed the different measures to consolidate the China-Africa cooperation in battling COVID-19 in African countries amongst these measures included aids in material and medical support as well as debt relief.
“China will continue to make full efforts to support African countries’ fight against the disease and continue to provide material support, dispatch medical teams and help representatives of African countries come to China to purchase medical materials,” President Xi stated.
Going by President Xi, China will begin construction of the Africa CDC headquarters ahead of schedule this year. He added that China will speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals.
He equally intend to work with the global community to provide greater support to African countries that are hardest hit by COVID-19 and under heavy financial stress, thereby canceling the debts of important African countries in the form of interest-free government loans which progress by the end of 2020 and extend their period of debt suspension, to assist them over their current difficulties.
“We encourage Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees,” he said.
According to him, the international community, especially developed countries and multilateral financial institutions, should act more forcefully on debt relief and suspension for African nations.
“China will work with the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other partners to assist Africa’s response to COVID-19, and do it in a way that respects the will of Africa…China will explore broader cooperation with Africa in such new areas of business as the digital economy, smart cities, clean energy and 5G technology to boost Africa’s development and revitalization,” Chines president disclosed.
In addition, he brought forth the fact that, China and Africa have offered mutual support to each other and fought hand in hand with each other. He went further by saying that China will always remember the invaluable support from Africa at the height of China’s battle with the coronavirus. Besides over 50 African leaders expressed support in phone calls or public statements.
However, China will work with Africa to uphold the UN Centered Global Governance System and support the WHO in making greater contributions to the global COVID-19 response. He equally, adding that, China opposes politicization and stigmatization linked to COVID-19. That the Chinese people have put up a fierce fight and made enormous sacrifices to bring the situation in China under control, and the country remains mindful of the risk of resurgence.
Why China needs to better consolidate Its relationship with Africa
China’s increased determination to support Africa comes at a time when the world was beginning to imagine the pandemic will affect China’s business relations. From the above, it is evident China more than ever wants to strengthen its ties with Africa. It should be noted that one of the areas of business corporation mentioned during the virtual meeting-5 G technology is viewed with so much skepticism in some parts of Africa.
At the global level, this technology has encountered a good number of obstacles related to its deployment including the loss of support from tech giants like Google and from powerful nations like the US and Britain. Each expressing their unwillingness to allow the deployment of this technology in their countries. Africa being the next largest market therefore is of great interest to China who undoubtedly has lost economic allies around the worlds since the outbreak of the pandemic that has plunged the world’s economy into a down turn.