Chinese president Xi Jinping says China will continue supporting Africa’s response to COVID-19 and has promised African countries that they will be among the first to benefit from COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking during the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 held through vide conference on Wednesday, Xi said China will continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China.
“We pledge that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit,” said Xi.
“China will work with the UN, WHO and other partners to assist Africa’s response to COVID-19, and do it in a way that respects the will of Africa.”
He added that his country will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year.
China will also 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.
According to Xi, within the FOCAC framework, China will 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.
“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, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension, to help them tide over the current difficulty,” he said.
He then expressed hope that the international community, especially developed countries and multilateral financial institutions, will act more forcefully on debt relief and suspension for Africa.
Xi also noted that both China and Africa face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilizing the economy and protecting people’s livelihoods. He called on leaders to put 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,” he said.
The Chinese president assured the leaders that humanity will ultimately defeat the virus, and that the Chinese and African people are poised to embrace better days ahead.
African leaders who attended the meeting include South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegal’s Macky Sall.