Solidarity in fighting coronavirus brings China, Africa closer

In the face of the deadly coronavirus that has been raging across the world for months, China and Africa have been supporting and helping each other all the time as really good friends.

   And the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 on Wednesday, chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping and attended by many African leaders and heads of international bodies, added to such a friendship, marking another concrete step towards building a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

   Over the past few months, China and Africa have been sticking together through thick and thin. At the height of China's battle against the disease, Africa kept expressing solidarity with its Asian friend, sending urgently needed medical supplies as well as warm-hearted messages. In return, when Africa was struck by the virus, China was the first to rush to its aid and has since stood firm with the African people.

   So far, China has sent to more than 50 African countries and the African Union (AU) their much-needed supplies, dispatched medical experts to over 10 African countries, and shared its anti-epidemic experience with medical workers across the continent via video conferences.

   According to a communique issued on Saturday by the AU, China has ensured the supply of 30 million testing kits, 10,000 ventilators and 80 million masks each month for Africa, a "significant contribution" to Africa's response to the pandemic.

   Many Chinese enterprises and civil organizations have also been actively assisting the continent's fight against the virus. Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation, for example, have donated three batches of essential medical supplies, including 10.6 million masks and 800 ventilators.

   At Wednesday's summit, China and Africa made new commitments, not only agreeing to extend each other more support and seek closer cooperation amid the pandemic, but also pledging to back the role of the World Health Organization in coordinating global anti-pandemic response and stay committed to upholding multilateralism.

   As Xi said during the summit, China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa's response by "providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa's procurement of medical supplies in China," and ensuring African countries will be among the first to benefit once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China.

   China also voiced support for Africa on economic reopening and people's livelihood, promising to 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, to work with the global community to give greater support to those hardest-hit African countries under heavy financial stress, and to support Africa's efforts to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area, enhance connectivity and strengthen industrial and supply chains.

   For Africa's part, its leaders attending the summit reaffirmed their aspiration to consolidate Africa-China friendship and build a community with a shared future for mankind. Noting that "Sino-African solidarity and better multilateral cooperation is key to winning the battle against this pandemic," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called on both sides to continue to strengthen the bonds and take collective action to secure the future of humanity.

   Cavince Adhere, a Kenyan international relations researcher with a focus on China-Africa relations, said China's commitments at the summit have helped breathe new life into Africa's struggle with the pandemic. Humphrey Moshi, professor of economics at the University of Dar es Salaam and director of the Center for Chinese Studies, said the summit is a continuation of China-Africa friendship and economic cooperation.

   Viruses respect no borders. Nor is race or nationality relevant in the face of a pandemic. Just as Xi said at the summit, solidarity and cooperation is "the most powerful weapon" against COVID-19. And this is exactly what China and Africa have been doing -- joining hands and fostering greater synergy to fight the disease.

   "Hold a true friend with both hands." By cherishing their friendship as is called upon by the Nigerian proverb, China and Africa will surely win the anti-pandemic battle soon, and further deepen their friendship in the future. 


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