My first impression of Senegal came from the Paris-Dakar Rally in the TV show. The spectacular moment of seeing the racing car rushing through the Sahara Desert left people with endless aftertaste. I learned after coming here several times that there is almost no desert in Senegal’s territory. The end of the rally is set at the beautiful Rose Lake in the suburbs of the capital city Dakar.
Senegal is located at the westernmost point of the African continent, with a population of 16 million and an area of nearly 200,000 square kilometers. These figures are not prominent in Africa. However, Senegal’s popularity and influence are world-recognized, most of which can be attributed to its profound history and splendid culture. From the poet Senghor, who is granted as the father of the nation, the literary giant Hamidou Kane, to the football stars Diouf and Mane, Senegal has bred a lot of talent. Especially after independence, the stability of Senegal’s political situation, the capacity of its governance, and the level of development are among the best in Africa, which is impressive. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegal once performed among the best in Africa and the world in its anti-pandemic effect.
In recent years, China-Senegal relations have shown a strong momentum of development under the concern and promotion of the two heads of state. In 2016, China and Senegal established a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. In 2018, Senegal assumed the African co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. In the same year, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Senegal and Senegal became the first West African country to sign a cooperation document with China to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative. Today, China is Senegal's largest source of financing, the second-largest trading partner, and the largest export market for agricultural products. In 2020, trade between the two countries increased by 15% year-on-year, reaching a record $2.9 billion. This achievement is even more valuable during the tough period of COVID-19.
At the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping soon responded to President Sall’s request on vaccination, actively promoting the discussion on vaccine procurement between Sinopharm and Senegal in order to help Senegal fight the pandemic. 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were sent to the people of Senegal on Chinese New Year, making Senegal the first country in West Africa to obtain vaccines in batches, and one of the first countries in Africa to obtain vaccines from China. President Sall and his wife went to the airport, taking the lead in inoculating and praising China for sending timely help. President Sall bluntly stated to the Western media that when vaccinations have been popularized in developed countries, the AU raises funds but has nowhere to procure vaccines. China is the only country to help developing countries in Africa and other regions fight the pandemic.
Anti-pandemic cooperation is the highlight of China-Senegal cooperation and the epitome of China-Africa cooperation. In the second half of this year, China-Africa relations will once again usher in a world-renowned forum moment, that is the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation which will be held in Senegal. This is not only the reunion of the big friendly family of China and Africa but also a new starting point for China-Africa strategic and pragmatic cooperation. Under the superimposed hit of turbulent changes and the pandemic, China will always uphold the policy of truthfulness, integrity and the correct view of justice and interests, working closely with Senegal and Africa to promote in-depth and practical cooperation of the Belt and Road Initiative. China and Africa will demonstrate to the international community the confidence and determination to meet challenges, overcome difficulties, seek common development, and share justice, setting an example of building a closer China-Africa community with a shared future and a community with a shared future for mankind.
(The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Senegal. Compiled by Liao Yuecen)