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President Xi Insists People and Lives Come First at ‘China-Africa Solidarity Summit against COVID-19’

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EIRNS—Chinese President Xi Jinping gave the keynote address at today’s Extraordinary China-Africa Solidarity Summit Against COVID-19, whose featured participants included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a native of Ethiopia; African Union 2020 Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa; and Co-Chair of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Macky Sall, President of Senegal. The Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 is a joint initiative between the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of South Africa in its capacity as the Chair of the African Union (AU), and the Republic of Senegal in its capacity as the Co-Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the joint statement said.

Initiatives include China’s commitment to work on further relieving the burden of debt in Africa, and the creation of an Africa Medical Supplies Platform, to operate for six months to make accessible diagnostic and therapeutic supplies to all nations.

In his keynote, Xi Jinping 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 [Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] 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.”

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 praised the creation of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, which will be managed by Afreximbank (African Export-Import Bank) and the Export-Import Bank of China. He also underlined the importance of debt relief for African nations during these trying times and called for an economic stimulus package for Africa.