Xi chairs China-Africa summit, calls for solidarity to defeat COVID-19

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Chinese President Xi Jinping chairs the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 and delivers a keynote speech at the summit in Beijing, capital of China, June 17, 2020. The summit, held via video link, was jointly proposed by China, South Africa, the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), and Senegal, the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called on China and Africa to defeat the novel coronavirus with solidarity and cooperation.

The two sides should work together to build a China-Africa community of health for all and take their comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to a greater height.

Xi made the remarks in Beijing when chairing the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, held via video link.

The summit was jointly initiated by China, South Africa, the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), and Senegal, the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Stick together in collaboration

Noting that China and Africa have withstood the test of a severe challenge and enhanced solidarity, friendship and mutual trust in the face of COVID-19, Xi said the two sides must mobilize necessary resources, stick together in collaboration to protect people's lives and health, and minimize the fallout of COVID-19.

He called on both sides to stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together, saying that China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa's response.

"China will lose no time in following through on the measures I announced at the opening of the World Health Assembly, and continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa's procurement of medical supplies in China," Xi said.

He said China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year, 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.

"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," said Xi.

So far, China has sent to over 50 African countries and the AU their much-needed supplies, dispatched medical experts, and shared its anti-epidemic experience via video conferences.

A communique issued on June 13 by the AU said China has ensured the supply of 30 million testing kits, 10,000 ventilators and 80 million masks each month for Africa, a "significant contribution."

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the meeting that the summit "demonstrates the depth and resilience of solidarity between China and Africa."

"Sino-African solidarity and better multilateral cooperation is key to winning the battle against this pandemic," he said, calling on both sides to continue to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and take collective action to secure the future of humanity.

Ramaphosa expressed the gratitude of the African people to Xi, the Chinese government and people for their generous donation of personal protective equipment and other medical assistance.

Describing the summit as "an excellent initiative," Senegalese President Macky Sall said in his speech that leaders attending the meeting have reaffirmed their aspiration to consolidate the friendship between Africa and China.

Sall also voiced support for the role of the World Health Organization in coordinating the global response to the epidemic.

Efforts to cushion impact

In his speech, Xi encouraged China and African countries to strengthen Belt and Road cooperation and accelerate the follow-ups to the FOCAC Beijing Summit.

"Greater priority needs to be given to cooperation on public health, economic reopening, and people's livelihood," said Xi.

He said 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 within the FOCAC framework.

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, Xi said.

China will work with other members of the G20 to implement the G20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative and urge the G20 to extend debt service suspension still further for countries concerned, including those in Africa, Xi added.

He said 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 to boost Africa's development and revitalization, said Xi.

Uphold multilateralism

Stressing that solidarity and cooperation is "the most powerful weapon" in the face of COVID-19, Xi called on China and Africa to stay committed to upholding multilateralism.

"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," he said.

Noting that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, Xi said closer cooperation between China and Africa is needed more than ever.

He called on both sides to support each other on issues involving respective core interests and advance the fundamental interests of China and Africa as well as all developing countries.

"This way, we will be able to take the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to a greater height," he said.

Other African leaders that attended the summit include Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attended the meeting as special guests.

Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, was also present at the summit.

A joint statement was issued after the summit.

Chen Xiaodong, assistant Chinese foreign minister, 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 direction for future cooperation and injected impetus into international anti-epidemic efforts.

During the summit, China and Africa expressed support for each other not only on epidemic fight and economic and social development, but also on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns, said Chen, adding that it is "a vivid illustration of a China-Africa community with a shared future."

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