By Chu Maoming
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared, China will work with other G20 members to implement the debt service suspension initiative to ease Africa’s debt burden. Minister Wang made the remarks when he responded to a question asked by an African journalist at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual Chinese national legislative session on Sunday, May 24th.
According to Minister Wang, who is concurrently a State Councillor (equivalent of Deputy Prime Minister) of China’s cabinet, China and Africa are good brothers who have shared weal and woe together. He said, our people, having fought shoulder-to-shoulder for national liberation, are partners for common development. A few years back, we were together fighting Ebola. He stated that he fully agreed with the AU Commission Chairperson in saying that “Africa and China are friends and, more importantly, comrades-in-arms. Nothing can change or damage this friendship”.
Minister Wang made it clear that in the battle against COVID-19, China and Africa have again stood by each other. Over 50 African leaders have expressed solidarity and support in phone calls or public statements. China has subsequently sent medical expert teams to Africa’s five sub-regions and surrounding countries. Resident Chinese medical teams based in 45 African countries have acted swiftly to assist in the local response. They have held nearly 400 training sessions for tens of thousands of African medical workers. China also looks after the African community in China just like she takes care of her own families. He disclosed, all of the over 3,000 African students in Hubei Province, including the city of Wuhan have been safe and sound, except for just one who got infected but was soon cured.
Minister Wang pointed out, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). China’s relations with Africa have stood the test of time and continue to flourish. He announced that despite of the pandemic, China will take concrete measures to push forward the relations.
First, China will continue to stand by Africa as it fights the virus. China will send anti-epidemic assistance to African and other developing countries as a matter of priority. China is considering sending more medical expert teams to the continent. China will continue to deliver on the health initiative announced at the FOCAC Beijing Summit. China will accelerate construction of the Africa CDC headquarters, and help boost public health capacity in African nations.
Second, China will continue to work with Africa on development capacity-building. China will work out ways to move ahead with major ongoing cooperation projects and support African countries in reopening businesses soon to sustain Africa’s economic momentum.
Third, China will work with other G20 members to implement the debt service suspension initiative to ease Africa’s debt burden. China is also considering further bilateral support for African countries under the greatest strain to help African brothers and sisters through this difficult time.
Minister Wang concluded his answer with quoting a Chinese saying, “When brothers are of the same mind, they have the power to cut through metal.” He expressed his full confidence that with help from China and the rest of the global community, the youthful continent of Africa will achieve greater and faster development after defeating COVID-19.
*Chu Maoming is China’s Consul General in Lagos