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China and Africa: Work with solidarity, overcome difficulty, build community of shared future

COMMENTARY
By Wu Peng | June 18th 2020
Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Mr Wu Peng. [Poto: Courtesy]

Nowadays, we are living in an era where countries and peoples in the world are interdependent and inseparable. On one hand, we are all benefiting from globalization through international trade and technology revolution. For example, JAVA House Kenya AA coffee beans are sold to China via an online platform with a profitable price of Sh2700 per package (375g).

On the other hand, we are also bearing risks together, such as financial crisis, climate change and infectious disease. Facing challenges, some people start to call for de-globalization, only to protect their interests. However, just as H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta says, “if one of us fails, we all fail”.

De-globalization and unilateralism will only impair our capability to fight against common challenges. Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping also steadily supports globalization and multilateralism and has announced his proposition to address these challenges — to build a community of shared future for mankind.

For this proposition as well as China and Africa’s shared vision of globalization and multilateralism, the unprecedented Covid-19 epidemic is a touchstone. As implied in the white paper titled "Fighting Covid-19: China in Action" recently published by China's State Council Information Office, the solidarity of international community, especially between China and Africa, has undoubtedly become the source of power for all of us to fight against the epidemic.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 in China, many African countries including Kenya have provided material and spiritual support for China. All these fully demonstrate our brotherly friendship in times of adversity. “The grace of dripping water should be reciprocated by a gushing spring”. Holding this ancient Chinese proverb dear to our heart, we support African countries to the best of our ability. Let’s take Kenya as an example.

In China, up till now, a great achievement was made—not a single Kenyan national was infected by Covid-19, even for Kenyan students in Wuhan, the hardest-hit city in China. To soothe their stress and ease their homesick, Chinese and Kenyan MFAs and Embassies completed a special relay to distribute free gift bags of coffee, tea and nuts, during the suspension of almost all means of logistics.

 On April 30th, Julian, one of the Kenyan students, gave birth to her second daughter in Wuhan during the lock-down. This cannot happen without the courage of Julian herself, the help of local community workers and facilitation of our two governments. As an Ambassador, I am always ready to provide assistance to these young people who are civil Ambassadors to build the bridge between China and Kenya.

In Kenya, Chinese nationals from all walks of lives are also working with their Kenyan friends to overcome difficulties. Just to name a few: to better contain the epidemic, donations of medical supplies and daily necessities (2 batches by Chinese government, 3 batches by Jack Ma Foundation and around 20 batches by Chinese companies) have been delivered or to be delivered to Kenya; to maintain international trade during the epidemic, direct cargo flights were resumed between China and Kenya, 6 times per week in peak; to support Kenyan manufactures and respond to the initiative of “buy Kenya, build Kenya”, we are trying to find a producer of high standard BFE melt-blown fabric for Kenyan factories to produce N95 face masks, instead of only selling finished products to Kenya. Facing the most serious global public health emergency since the past century, no one can survive alone. Only with joint efforts will we be able to clinch the final victory.

In the future, China will remain committed to its solemn commitment to build a community with a shared future for mankind. At the Virtual Event of Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020, H.E. Xi Jinping announced new measures to be taken by China. We will provide US$2 billion to help with Covid-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries.

To help more people on the African continent, a cooperation mechanism will be established to pair up Chinese hospitals with their African counterparts, and the disease preparedness and control capacity of Africa CDC headquarters will be ramped up. Furthermore, China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) for some countries.

To tide over the difficulty, on June 17,  2020, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19, jointly proposed by China, South Africa (the rotating chair of the AU) and Senegal (the co-chair of the FOCAC), was held via video link. Leaders of African countries, Secretary-General of the UN and the Director-General of the WHO joined the summit calling for solidarity between China and Africa against Covid-19.

 In President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech, he pledges that once the development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit. Furthermore, he also encourages Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20's DSSI and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees.

The history of civilization is one that repeatedly overcomes challenges. Covid-19 is only one of the challenges we are facing in this age of globalization. In the future, plenty of problems lie ahead, testing the crisis management capabilities of all governments as well as the wisdom of mankind.

In such a time, isolation only makes us weak, while unity keeps us strong. To safeguard the planet, our only home, let’s remain united as one, keep coordinated and build a community with a shared future for mankind because it is the only right way to reach the overall development and sustainable prosperity for us in the future.

Unity is Strength! Umoja ni nguvu!

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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