By He Yin
“Let me reaffirm China’s commitment to its longstanding friendship with Africa. No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China shall never waver in its determination to pursue greater solidarity and cooperation with Africa.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks made in his speech delivered at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 indicated the firm resolve of China and Africa to jointly combat the novel coronavirus pneumonia, and charted the course for the two sides’ pragmatic cooperation in the future.
International public opinion holds that the summit has built a practical platform for China and Africa to learn each other’s demands, as well as make and implement a task list.
Huge impacts have been exerted on Africa’s economic and social development by the pandemic. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the economy in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to shrink by 1.6 percent this year. The pandemic will swipe away the positive progress achieved by the region, and even bring huge pressure on the economic growth of the region in the years to come. A World Bank report predicted that that overall sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will be between 2.1% and 5.1% smaller by the end of the year, triggering the first recession in the region over the past 25 years.
Undoubtedly, African countries are facing double pressure, from both the pandemic and economy. To support them in pandemic response will help them boost economic and social development, while to support them in economic and social development will help them better fight the virus. It is urgent to defeat COVID-19, as promoting economic and social development remains a fundamental approach to improve livelihood and well-being for the people.
“To cushion the impact of COVID-19, it is important to strengthen Belt and Road cooperation and accelerate the follow-ups to the FOCAC (Forum on China–Africa Cooperation) Beijing Summit. Greater priority needs to be given to cooperation on public health, economic reopening, and people’s livelihood.” What Xi said at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 indicated China’s unswerving determination to advance China-Africa cooperation.
For those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support, as it helps African countries enhance public health spending to better cope with the pandemic at the critical moment, and is conducive to Africa’s long-term and sustainable development. “China’s solidarity with Africa is a vital part of this effort,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Former South African diplomat Gert Grobler also pointed out that China has played the role of a responsible major country with its concrete actions.
Extending sympathy to and helping each other, China and Africa have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win cooperation.
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner in the past 10 years, as well as the biggest financier of the continent’s infrastructure. China-built industrial parks, factories, schools and hospitals are seen everywhere in Africa, and the country has helped the continent construct over 10,000 kilometers of roads, 6,000 kilometers of railways and over 100 airports, ports, and power stations.
China-Africa cooperation has greatly promoted Africa’s development. To help the continent get rid of the pandemic as soon as possible, China supports Africa in its effort to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area and to enhance connectivity and strengthen industrial and supply chains. China will explore broader cooperation with Africa in such new business forms as digital economy, smart city, clean energy, and 5G to boost Africa’s development and revitalization.
These efforts for China-Africa cooperation will lay a solid foundation for Africa’s development in the post-pandemic era, and further indicate Xi’s remarks made at the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit five years ago: “Friendship and justice, which defines China-Africa relations, require us to facilitate Africa’s development endeavor with China’s development and ultimately deliver win-win progress and common development through mutually beneficial cooperation.”
The pandemic won’t impede the progress of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the FOCAC, as well as a new starting point for China-Africa joint development. All the ten cooperation plans with Africa raised by China at the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit have been implemented, and significant progress has been achieved regarding the eight major initiatives in close collaboration with African countries raised by China at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the FOCAC.
The urgent task remains that China and Africa seize the major opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative, and see to it that the Belt and Road Initiative and the AU Agenda 2063, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the development programs of African countries better complement each other, so as to expand areas of cooperation, unlock new cooperation potential, consolidate their traditional areas of cooperation, and foster new highlights of cooperation in the new economy.
Both parties agreed to chart the course for China-Africa cooperation in a post-COVID-19 era, and work together to on the 2021 FOCAC calendar, as they promised in the Joint Statement of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19.
The logo of FOCAC indicates peace and development, as well as vitality and prosperity. It is a vivid description of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China shall never waver in its determination to pursue greater solidarity and cooperation, peace and development, and vitality and prosperity with Africa.
The Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 has made a new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation and injected new energy into Africa’s economic revival, signaling a bright future for the China-Africa community with a shared future that the two sides have been striving for.
The first train running on Kenya’s Nairobi-Naivasha railway departs on Oct. 16, 2019, marking the official operation of the phase-1 project of the Nairobi-Malaba Standard Gauge Railway. Photo by Lyu Qiang, People’s Daily