China-Africa Friendship Gains New Glories in Anti-COVID-19 Cooperation
On June 17, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 was successfully held via video link. As a joint initiative of China, South Africa in its capacity as the Chair of the African Union (AU), and Senegal in its capacity of the Co-Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the summit is a special arrangement when the coronavirus is still ravaging the world, and China and Africa face serious challenges posed by the pandemic. The heads of state or government from China and some African countries, the Chairman of the AU Commission, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), and the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) attended the Summit, discussed cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and reached broad consensus.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the summit, in which he spoke highly of the major achievements of China and Africa in domestic epidemic prevention and control, as well as the spirit of solidarity embodied in their joint fight against the coronavirus. President Xi put forward China's initiatives and proposals for the China-Africa anti-COVID-19 cooperation, which include "staying committed to fighting COVID-19 together, staying committed to enhancing China-Africa cooperation, staying committed to upholding multilateralism, and staying committed to taking China-Africa friendship forward". President Xi's speech demonstrates China's goodwill and sincerity in fully supporting Africa's fight against COVID-19, shows clearly the direction and path of China-Africa practical cooperation in countering the pandemic, and receives enthusiastic and positive responses from the leaders present at the summit. I deeply feel that at this critical juncture, this summit will not only bring closer China and Africa, but set a good example for international anti-COVID-19 cooperation.
This is a summit that highlights the true nature of China-Africa solidarity. No matter how the international landscape may evolve, no matter what kinds of opportunities and challenges may emerge, China and Africa always stick to the original aspiration of solidarity and cooperation, and have never forgotten the spirit of sailing in the same boat. In the face of the ferocious COVID-19 pandemic, China and Africa have been supporting each other and fighting side by side, which demonstrates the brotherhood characterized by sharing weal and woe and offering timely support. When China was fiercely fighting against the virus, African countries sent their invaluable support, which warmed the hearts of the Chinese people, and when Africa was affected by COVID-19, it is China that has taken swift actions in providing emergency aid and has been standing firmly with the African people.
It is worth mentioning that this is the first time that China held an Extraordinary Summit with the heads of state or government of the countries in a region under the theme of "Solidarity against COVID-19", which manifests Africa's importance in China's diplomacy. The participating Chinese and African leaders agreed that this Extraordinary Summit has once again demonstrated the unbreakable China-Africa friendship and the strong momentum of China-Africa relations, and that it will boost the confidence of the two sides in jointly overcoming the current difficulties and inject impetus to the common and sustainable development of China and Africa.
This is a summit that enhances the support for Africa's fight against COVID-19. Since African countries were affected by the coronavirus, China has been feeling keenly about Africa. On the one hand, China has been, to the best of its ability, donating medical supplies, dispatching medical expert teams, and organizing video conferences to share its experience in fighting COVID-19. On the other hand, China has been appealing to the international community for attaching greater importance to African countries' needs in their responses to the pandemic. For instance, President Xi took the lead to raise the proposal of "providing greater support for Africa" and put forward targeted measures to assist Africa at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA). At this summit, taking into consideration the current urgent needs of Africa, China has further refined its relevant commitments made at the 73rd WHA and the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit, and announced a series of more specific and predictable measures tailored for Africa.
· China clearly stated the timetable for the start of construction of Africa CDC's headquarters, i.e. within this year.
· China made the pledge that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.
· China announced that it 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 within the FOCAC framework, and that it will further extend the period of debt suspension for those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress.
· China made concrete arrangements to implement the G20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and called on the international society to act more forcefully on debt relief and suspension for Africa.
· China stressed that it will increase its support to Africa in its effort to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area, and to enhance connectivity and strengthen industry and supply chains.
· China called for broader cooperation with Africa in such new business fronts as digital economy, smart city, clean energy and 5G, which is rather forward looking.
I would like to stress that the aforementioned measures announced by President Xi are for the whole African continent and that every friendly African country can participate and benefit. These significant measures can not only meet Africa's urgent needs in fighting COVID-19, but assist the continent to accomplish its heavy tasks in stabilizing economy and ensuring people's livelihood.
This is a summit that enhances the confidence in global anti-epidemic efforts. While the novel coronavirus spreads worldwide, the political virus that politicizes the epidemic and stigmatizes specific countries is also proliferating, which has dampened the hope of victory in the global war on COVID-19. The summit sent out the strong message that "solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon in the fight against COVID-19". Dr Tedros, Director-General of WHO, believes that this Extraordinary Summit has created a crucial platform for global anti-epidemic cooperation. The Joint Statement of the Summit has not only reiterated the firm resolve of China and Africa in building an even stronger community with a shared future, but upheld the banner of multilateralism, calling for safeguarding the UN-centered global governance system and supporting the WHO to make greater contribution to the global fight against COVID-19. The Joint Statement further declares that China and Africa oppose the politicization and stigmatization of the virus, and call on the international community to jointly prevent stigma and racial discrimination. This is the just appeal of China and Africa for strengthened international anti-epidemic cooperation, which is the right path toward the victory against the pandemic. This is also an integral component of protecting the common interests of developing countries. The Joint Statement has shown once again that China and Africa are the mainstays of the forces which safeguard international equity and justice, and promote democratization of international relations.
China-Tanzania cooperation is an important integral part of China-Africa cooperation. At present, under the leadership of President John Pombe Magufuli, Tanzania has achieved remarkable progress in epidemic prevention and control; its economy and society have been gradually returning to the normal. The international institutions have optimistic views on Tanzania's development prospect, and the Tanzanian Government forecast the country's economy will grow by 5.5% in a year ahead, which is extraordinary considering the global economic recession caused by COVID-19. China will strengthen communication and coordination with Tanzania, and jointly implement relevant outcomes of the summit, taking into account Tanzania's needs and willingness. China will also accelerate the implementation of the outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit and the joint building of the Belt and Road in Tanzania. China is ready to support Tanzania's efforts to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 and to achieve its economic and social development objectives, with the purpose of bring more benefits to the Tanzanian people through China-Tanzania and China-Africa cooperation.