Xi Jinping Chairs the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 and Gives a Keynote Speech
On the evening of 17 June, President Xi Jinping chaired the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 in Beijing, where he gave a keynote speech entitled "Defeating COVID-19 with Solidarity and Cooperation".
In his speech, President Xi Jinping highlighted that in the face of COVID-19, China and Africa have offered mutual support and fought shoulder to shoulder, and enhanced solidarity and strengthened friendship and mutual trust. He reaffirmed China's commitment to its longstanding friendship with Africa. No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China shall never waver in its determination to pursue greater solidarity and cooperation with Africa. He went on to say that China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa's response to COVID-19.
Xi also stressed that China and Africa must always put the people and their lives front and center and do whatever it takes to protect people's lives and health. China and Africa must stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together, enhancing cooperation, upholding multilateralism and taking their friendship forward. Together, China and Africa will jointly build a China-Africa community of health for all and an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The Summit issued a Joint Statement of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19, sending to the international community a strong message of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation.
Held via video link, the Summit was a joint initiative between the People's Republic of China, the Republic of South Africa in its capacity as the Chair of the African Union (AU), and the Republic of Senegal in its capacity as the Co-Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
The Summit was attended by President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt, President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, President Ali Bongo Ondimba of the Republic of Gabon, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of the Republic of Mali, President Issoufou Mahamadou of the Republic of Niger, President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations (UN) and Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization (WHO) were invited as Special Guests to the Summit.
In his speech, Xi said that "At such a critical moment in the global fight against COVID-19, we are gathered together in this Extraordinary China-Africa Summit. Friends old and new are connected via video link to discuss our joint response to COVID-19 and to renew the fraternity between China and Africa. The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on countries around the world, with the loss of several hundred thousand precious lives." He suggested participating leaders observing a moment of silence for those who have tragically passed away due to COVID-19 and expressing condolences to their families.
Xi underscored that in the face of COVID-19, China and Africa have offered mutual support and fought shoulder to shoulder with each other; and have enhanced solidarity and strengthened friendship and mutual trust. He reaffirmed China's commitment to its longstanding friendship with Africa. "No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China shall never waver in its determination to pursue greater solidarity and cooperation with Africa," Xi said.
Xi pointed out that at the time of the Summit, COVID-19 is still affecting many parts of the world. Both China and Africa face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilizing the economy and protecting people's livelihoods. "We must always put our people and their lives front and center. We must mobilize necessary resources, stick together in collaboration, and do whatever it takes to protect people's lives and health and minimize the fallout of COVID-19." Xi said. He set out the following four areas that call for particular efforts by China and Africa under the current circumstances:
"First, we must stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together. China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa's response to COVID-19. China will continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa's procurement of medical supplies in China. China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year. China will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, 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. We pledge that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit."
"Second, we must stay committed to enhancing China-Africa cooperation. Within the FOCAC framework, China will cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020. For those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension. We encourage Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees. China will work with other members of the G20 to implement the DSSI and, on that basis, urge the G20 to extend debt service suspension still further for countries concerned, including those in Africa. China hopes that the international community, especially developed countries and multilateral financial institutions, will act more forcefully on debt relief and suspension for Africa. China will work with the UN, WHO and other partners to assist Africa's response to COVID-19, and do it in a way that respects the will of Africa. China supports Africa in its effort to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area and to enhance connectivity and strengthen industrial and supply chains. China will explore broader cooperation with Africa in such new business forms as digital economy, smart city, clean energy, and 5G."
"Third, we must stay committed to upholding multilateralism. China will work with Africa to uphold the UN-centered global governance system and support WHO in making greater contribution to the global COVID-19 response. We oppose politicization and stigmatization of COVID-19, and we oppose racial discrimination and ideological bias. We stand firm for equity and justice in the world."
"Fourth, we must stay committed to taking China-Africa friendship forward. On my part, I will stay in close touch with all of you, my colleagues, to consolidate our friendship and mutual trust, support each other on issues involving our respective core interests, and advance the fundamental interests of China and Africa and, for that matter, of all developing countries. This way, we will be able to take the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to a greater height."
Xi concluded his speech by stressing that "at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, we agreed to work together to build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. Today's Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 is our concrete step to deliver the commitment we made at the Beijing Summit and to do our part in the international cooperation against COVID-19. I am convinced that humanity will ultimately defeat the virus, and that the Chinese and African people are poised to embrace better days ahead."
The participating foreign leaders all noted the special significance of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, convened at a time when the coronavirus is affecting Africa and many parts of the world. They described the Summit as another strong testimony to the close, resilient friendship between Africa and China. They underlined that China and African countries have long stood by each other through thick and thin. Africa deeply appreciates China's valuable assistance and help in its COVID-19 response, including providing medical supplies,technologies and experience sharing. The disease is a global crisis of an unprecedented scale, which is only to be defeated when the community of nations enhance solidarity, uphold multilateralism and support the work of the WHO and other international organizations.
Africa calls for greater debt relief and suspension arrangements by creditor countries and international financial institutions. The international community must also strengthen cooperation with Africa on COVID-19 therapeutics, medicine and vaccine development. All this will help Africa beat the virus, recover its economy and realize independent and sustainable development. The African leaders also applauded China's exemplary efforts in this regard, saying that China's concrete help to Africa has once again proven it as an all-weather friend and good partner. The African leaders reaffirmed their firm commitment to the Africa-China comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. They are ready to build an Africa-China community of health for all, and a community with a shared future for mankind. The long-standing friendship between Africa and China will last forever, they added.
The Summit was productive and efficient. It reached important consensus in a friendly and inspiring atmosphere. It issued the Joint Statement of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19. China and Africa are determined to deepen friendship and strengthen mutual support as they work toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The two sides will enhance solidarity and cooperation, and support the UN and the WHO in leading and coordinating their joint efforts to fight COVID-19. The two sides will scale up implementation of the follow-ups to the FOCAC Beijing Summit and give greater priority to public health, economic reopening and people's well-being. China and Africa will also uphold multilateralism, reject politicization of COVID-19 and safeguard international equity and justice.