China, Africa face urgent need to strengthen anti-COVID-19 cooperation: Chinese FM

Members of a Chinese medical team pose for a photo upon their arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 16, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua/Wang Shoubao)

As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging across the globe, China and Africa face an urgent need to strengthen cooperation and firmly keep committed to mutual support to prevail over the disease, said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

During an interview with the People's Daily as he concluded on Saturday his visits to five African countries, namely Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles, Wang said the pandemic is an urgent challenge facing the international community as well as China and Africa.

Since the onset of the pandemic, African countries have provided firm support for China, which China will always remember, Wang said, adding that China has launched the largest humanitarian assistance since the founding of the People's Republic of China, extending its helping hand to 53 African countries and the African Union.

As the two sides support each other and never turn one's back on the other, their traditional friendship has been further elevated, Wang said, adding that Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, which has provided important strategic guidance for joint fight of the virus.

A staff member unloads Chinese medical supplies from an airplane at the Kotota International Airport in Accra, capital of Ghana, April 6, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

During this trip to Africa, Wang noted, the two sides had in-depth exchange over the follow-ups to the summit.

Noting that the African countries spoke highly of China as it has taken the lead to stem the spread of the coronavirus, reopen economy, and offer large-scale support to Africa, Wang said the African side applauded the achievements of the joint anti-pandemic fight and expressed confidence in their co-work to defeat the disease.

Some leaders of African countries, including Seychelles president, have said they will be among the first to take a vaccine from China, Wang added.

Wang noted that China will continue to deliver urgently needed anti-virus supplies to African friends, send medical teams to countries in need, establish a cooperation mechanism of counterpart hospitals, promote the sharing of anti-virus experience, accelerate the construction of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) headquarters building, and work with G20 members on the debt suspension in Africa.

China will fulfill its firm commitment that its vaccines will be provided as global public good, and stands ready to cooperate with African countries in need on COVID-19 vaccines and make them more accessible and affordable in Africa, Wang said.

In light of the ongoing risks from COVID-19, it is increasingly important to sustain economy and ensure employment and people's livelihood, Wang said, noting that the Chinese side has maintained the operations of its more than 1,100 Belt and Road cooperation projects in Africa, with nearly 100,000 Chinese technical and engineering personnel staying at their posts.

A batch of projects such as railways, roads and power stations have re-started despite the pandemic, contributing a lot to local socio-economic development, Wang said.

The Chinese diplomat added that he and leaders and foreign ministers of the African side agreed that it is necessary to coordinate COVID-19 prevention and control as well as the resumption of work and production in a scientific way, work hard to restore trade between China and Africa, keep the industrial and supply chains running well, and support African countries in stabilizing economy, preserving jobs and protecting people's well-being.