June 17, 2020 (EIRNS) — Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also Chair of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation, gave the keynote address at today’s ‘China-Africa Solidarity Summit Against COVID-19’ event, which was co-hosted by the African Union 2020 Chairman and President of South Africa Cyrill Ramaphosa, and the co-chair of FOCAC (Forum on China Africa Cooperation) and President of Senegal, Macky Sall, with special guests including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus—also a native of Ethiopia. The participants are listed in the Joint Statement of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 posted on the FOCAC site, linked here.
Summit initiatives include China’s commitment to work on further relieving the burden of debt in Africa, and the creation of a Africa Medical Supplies Platform, to operate for six months to make accessible diagnostic and therapeutic supplies to all nations.
Xi stressed the close relationship China has always had to Africa and promised additional assistance in the present crisis. Chinese teams have just returned from extensive visits and consultations in Sudan and Algeria.
Xi said, “Both China and Africa face the formidable task of combatting the virus while stabilizing the economy and protecting people’s livelihoods. We must always put our people and their lives front and center. We must mobilize necessary resources, stick together in collaboration, and do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives and health and minimize the fallout of COVID-19….
“China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year. China will 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. Together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all.”
Xi said that China would also work to uphold the commitments made under the Belt and Road Initiative for Africa’s infrastructure development and would 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. He also promised to work with the global community to further extend the period of debt suspension. He would also encourage Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative and to “hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees.” (The full text of Xi’s speech is available at https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1191977.shtml.)
South African President Ramaphosa expressed his appreciation for China’s help, and emphasized the serious lack of proper medical equipment in most African nations. He discussed the creation of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, which will be managed by AfriExImBank and its Chinese counterpart. He also underlined the importance of debt relief for African nations during these trying times and called for an economic stimulus package for Africa. In his closing remarks, President Ramaphosa said “I would like to applaud China’s pledge of $2 billion to the global COVID-19 Response over the next two years”, referring to China’s pledge of $2 billion for the World Health Organization’s work against the coronavirus pandemic. Regarding that pledge, President Xi had noted the importance of Africa “noting that China and Africa account for nearly 1/3 of the global population”. In his closing remarks, President Ramaphosa also called for lifting sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan to allow them to adequately respond to the COVID 19 pandemic and save lives.
The full text of the introductory remarks of President Ramaphosa is available at https://www.gov.za/speeches/president-cyril-ramaphosa-virtual-extraordinary-china-africa-summit-solidarity-against
The speech of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, concluded: “I seize this opportunity to reiterate the need for this Summit to put humanity at the center of our vision for common prosperity.” His remarks are linked here.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ speech is linked here.
For more on the summit and related efforts, see: “Africa-China Summit on COVID19 Ends with two worlds: ‘Cooperation’ and ‘Solidarity'”. This includes the closing words of President Ramaphosa at the summit: https://todaynewsafrica.com/africa-china-summit-on-covid-19-ends-with-two-words-cooperation-and-solidarity-and-a-pledge-of-2-billion-by-china-to-covid-19-global-response/
“African Union Chair Cyril Ramaphosa to provide Public Update on Continental Strategy to Fight COVID 19”: https://todaynewsafrica.com/president-ramaphosa-this-is-how-i-have-responded-to-covid-19-in-south-africa-in-past-100-days/
“Nigerian President Calls for Global Support for Africa at China-Africa Summit on COVID-19”: https://todaynewsafrica.com/nigerian-president-calls-for-global-support-for-africa-at-china-africa-summit-on-covid-19/
“African Development Bank Approves $4 Million Grant to Bolster South Sudan’s COVID 19 Response” for notes on the crisis of medical infrastructure in South Sudan: https://todaynewsafrica.com/african-development-bank-approves-4-million-grant-to-bolster-south-sudans-covid-19-response/