WORKING TOGETHER

The key Covid-19 lessons for China and Africa

China has reaffirmed its commitment to make Covid-19 vaccines global public good.

In Summary

•The country's fast and effective response to the outbreak is a great lesson. The lingering memory is the building of a 1,000-bed health facility in Wuhan in a record 10 days.

•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

Life in Wuhan megacity is back to normal thanks to effective response against the pandemic.
Life in Wuhan megacity is back to normal thanks to effective response against the pandemic.
Image: Unesco

“I deeply sympathise with the current situation of Chinese citizens, especially those from Wuhan. I believe the government of the People’s Republic of China will overcome the Covid-19 epidemic, just like it has many other challenges. We Kenyan people are standing with you”.

The foregoing Facebook post earlier this year by Peter Gikonyo, a Kenyan Chinese teacher at the Confucius Institute, University of Nairobi, will remain perpetually immortalised.

Gikonyo proceeded to state that China has been a sincere friend to the African people, noting that Africa is a beneficiary of the five pillars of the One Belt, One Road initiative.

Gikonyo’s sentiments reflect the then prevailing mood in Kenya, and Africa as a whole. Africans are very loyal people, and always wish the best for their friends.

Contrary to the despondency and panic that Sino pessimists expected to prevail due to the large number of Chinese nationals living and working in the continent, the friendship has withstood the Covid-19 challenge.

Mid this year, China offered debt waivers to some African countries after President Xi's announcement at Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19 that "within the FOCAC framework, 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. 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, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension, to help them tide over the current difficulty."

Workers at the packaging facility of the Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus vaccine in Beijing, China.
FRONTRUNNER: Workers at the packaging facility of the Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus vaccine in Beijing, China.
Image: REUTERS

Last month, China reaffirmed its commitment to make Covid-19 vaccines global public good. Speaking at a reception commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the country will actively consider providing the vaccines to African countries when they are available for use.

Wang said “China will continue to work with Africa to fully deliver on the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19, with greater focus on public health, economic reopening and improvement of livelihoods.”

The foreign minister stressed that the two partners will continue to strengthen their solidarity and build a stronger community with a shared future, to tide over the current challenges together and build a China-Africa community of health for all, to pursue win-win cooperation to build a China-Africa community of development for all, and to embrace responsibilities and work toward a community with a shared future for mankind.

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.
President Xi Jinping

What the pessimists have failed to acknowledge is the fact that over the centuries, Africa has been built through resilience. Slave trade and colonialism, two of the most devastating events in the continent’s history, did not destroy the human spirit of the African people. In recent decades, several African countries have grappled with a few viruses, mainly the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV), and Ebola.

Although many previous partners have abused their hospitality, Africans have never lost hope for humanity. Actually, the Covid-19 adversity has produced a lot of Afro-sympathy towards China, only that the continent cannot help much materially in managing the pandemic.

Well, Covid-19 has come with vital lessons for Africa. The crisis has led to government officials examining their countries’ health systems in light of China’s fast and effective response to the outbreak. The lingering memory is the building of a 1,000-bed health facility in Wuhan in a record 10 days.

Ultimately, China’s predicament is proof to the fact that we are living in a community with a common destiny. Like the Phoenix, and just as it has done for centuries, China will rise again from the ashes of Covid-19, and continue its foreign policy of promoting global peace and prosperity.