Supportive measures unveiled at event to consolidate Sino-African friendship
African leaders and experts have hailed President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, saying the mutual support of China and African countries in the anti-epidemic fight is a vivid illustration of a China-Africa community with a shared future.
In his speech at the summit he presided over via video link in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi assured African countries that China will continue supporting COVID-19 containment measures on the continent.
While calling for solidarity and cooperation to defeat the novel coronavirus pandemic, Xi unveiled an array of measures to help Africa cope with the public health crisis, including providing technical and material support and debt relief for African countries.
Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong said after the summit that what Xi advocated in his speech showed the firm determination of China and Africa to defeat the epidemic and overcome difficulties, indicated the direction for future cooperation and injected impetus into international anti-epidemic efforts.
China and Africa expressed support for each other not only in the anti-epidemic fight and economic and social development, but also on issues related to each other’s core interests and major concerns, Chen said.
The virtual summit was initiated by China, South Africa and Senegal. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the current chairperson of the African Union while Senegalese President Macky Sall is a co-chairperson of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
Ramaphosa said the summit demonstrates the depth and resilience of solidarity between China and Africa. “Sino-African solidarity and better multilateral cooperation are key to winning the battle against this pandemic,” he said.
Calling the summit “an excellent initiative”, Sall said that leaders attending the meeting reaffirmed their aspiration to consolidate the friendship between Africa and China and to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who attended the summit in his capacity as a member of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, thanked China for its swift response to provide Kenya and the rest of the continent with medical supplies, including testing kits, personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals to help them fight the epidemic.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also commended the Chinese government for its efforts to help African countries tackle the pandemic, and said Xi’s strong support has further demonstrated the spirit of solidarity and enhanced the bond of partnership that already exist among FOCAC members.
A joint statement released after the summit reiterated the countries’ opposition to the politicization and stigmatization of the virus, and called on the international community to jointly prevent discrimination and stigmatization and reject misinformation and disinformation.
The countries also reaffirmed their commitment to supporting multilateralism, opposing unilateralism, safeguarding the United Nations-centered international system and defending international equity and justice, according to the statement.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus participated in the summit as special guests.
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Tedros said that since the pandemic started, China has been supporting Africa, especially in sending experts, sharing information and providing supplies, including COVID-19 testing kits. He applauded the summit, saying the platform will be important in strengthening China-Africa relations and solidarity across the world.
Senegalese President Macky Sall attends the summit via video link on Wednesday. XINHUA
Mamadou Saliou Bah, director of Guinea’s Laboratories of the National Health Security Agency, said working together to fight the epidemic has undoubtedly deepened the friendship between China and Africa.
Humphrey Moshi, professor of economics at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, said that the summit is a continuation of China-Africa friendship and cooperation.
President Xi’s remarks at the summit show “China cherishes its friendship with Africa and both sides regard cooperation as an effective way to address COVID-19”, Moshi said.
Peter Kagwanja, president of the Africa Policy Institute, an independent, nonprofit Pan-African think tank in Kenya, said that “Xi’s main point in his address, and indeed his diplomatic genius, is in recognizing the equal, mutual and reciprocal relationship between Africa and China in fighting against COVID-19”.
The disease knows no race and no borders, he said, and the joint fight against the virus has strengthened trust and understanding between the African and Chinese peoples.
Boubacar Abdou, technical adviser to the president of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council in Niger, said that China has played a decisive role in the fight against COVID-19 worldwide, and particularly in Africa, by reaching out to others.
“It must be recognized that in the fight against the pandemic, China has been an important partner for Africa in general and West Africa in particular,” Abdou said.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
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