In his speeches at the World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 18, 2020 and a month later at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit for Solidarity Against COVID-19 on June 17, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the need for international cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Xi stressed China’s will to help African countries fight the pandemic in various ways.
More than a year into the pandemic, Africa has worked hard to handle its spread. China has dispatched medical experts to African states. China’s medical experts shared their knowledge with African health professionals and institutions in testing and clinical treatment of COVID-19 cases. During the pandemic, China donated face masks, testing kits and ventilators to African countries.
The groundbreaking and unveiling ceremony of the Africa CDC headquarters was held in December 2020. Beyond the material donations, China served as a model of how to respond to the pandemic. In the Chinese fashion, African countries swiftly enforced tough lockdowns and social distancing measures in their countries.
President Xi declared that the COVID-19 vaccines developed in China “will be made a public good” at the WHA last year. China has since worked for the “vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries”. China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines have received emergency use approval from the World Health Organization (WHO). The vaccines have been distributed on a global scale.
Africa is still lagging behind in terms of vaccination rates. Over and above its bilateral efforts, China pledged to donate 10 million vaccines to the WHO’s COVAX facility on which many developing countries, including the majority of African countries, depend for access to COVID-19 vaccines. With 1.4 billion people of its own to vaccinate and as some other countries imposed restrictions on vaccines or vaccines material export, China has done its utmost to reach out to the developing countries the majority of which simply do not have the money to purchase the vaccines from the manufacturers.
David Monyae is the Director for the Centre for Africa – China Studies at the University of Johannesburg and Sizo Nkala is a postdoctoral research fellow at the same institute. The article reflects the authors’ opinion, and not necessarily the views of People’s Daily app.