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China is a friend indeed to SA in fight against Covid-19

Charge D’affaires Li Nan of the Chinese Embassy

Charge D’affaires Li Nan of the Chinese Embassy

Published Apr 15, 2020


Shannon Ebrahim spoke to Charge D’affaires Li Nan of the Chinese Embassy to clarify China's role in Africa during the coronavirus outbreak.

Recently Chinese President Xi ­Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had a telephone conversation. Tell us more about that.

On April 8, President Xi Jinping talked by phone with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the crucial moment when South Africa and other countries around the world are fighting against Covid-19.

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The two heads of state reached consensus on many important issues concerning the fight against the virus, which demonstrates the comprehensive and strategic nature of the China-South Africa relationship.

President Xi first expressed gratitude for the support to China provided in various forms from South Africa, and affirmed China’s strong support to South Africa in defeating Covid-19.

China has been closely following the spread of the pandemic in Africa and has provided supplies in batches to the AU and all African countries that have diplomatic ties with China.

Experts from China and Africa have had several video conferences to exchange experiences. Many Chinese enterprises have also donated supplies to South Africa. China will continue to provide support to African countries, speed up the building of the African Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and strengthen China-Africa co-operation in the fields of public health and disease prevention and control.

President Ramaphosa commended China’s strong and effective actions to bring the pandemic under control, which has provided valuable experiences for other countries. He said that China’s valuable assistance to South Africa and other African countries in fighting the virus at this testing time is of great importance and has strengthened Africa’s confidence.

South Africa is ready to work with China to implement the outcomes of the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit.

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South Africa is under tremendous pressure to contain Covid-19. You mentioned that in the phone call, President Xi Jinping expressed China’s firm support for South Africa’s fight against the epidemic. Describe the specific measures taken by China in this regard.

Since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in South Africa on March 5, the total number of confirmed cases has climbed to 2, making South Africa the country with the highest number of confirmed cases in Africa.

President Ramaphosa has led the South African government and people to take a number of decisive measures, such as the national lockdown, to contain the spread of Covid-19, which demonstrates his strong leadership, and has won the support of the people.

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Senior South African leaders have firmly supported China’s efforts to combat the pandemic, and President Ramaphosa twice wrote to President Xi Jinping to express his condolences.

The Standard Bank of South Africa, Sun International Group, U-Mask company and other South African enterprises generously donated cash and kind to support China’s efforts, despite the impact suffered by themselves from Covid-19. Their warmth has been deeply appreciated by the Chinese people.

It is time for the Chinese government and people to reciprocate the generosity of the people of South Africa.

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Supplies have been provided to South Africa by China through both governmental and non-governmental channels.

Video: Xinhua

According to incomplete statistics, the Chinese central and local governments and medical institutions have provided 7550 nucleic acid testing reagents, 20000 N95 masks, 100000 surgical masks, 2000 sets of protective suits and goggles, 10 000 pairs of gloves and shoe covers, 500 forehead temperature guns and other medical supplies to South Africa, part of which have been delivered.

Other supplies will arrive in South Africa in batches. The People’s Liberation Army of China has also donated 30 000 masks and 2000 protective goggles to the SANDF to support their lockdown operation.

The 20 000 masks donated by the Chinese Embassy in South Africa to the University of Witwatersrand and University of Johannesburg have already been delivered. The two batches of supplies donated by China’s Jack Ma Public Welfare Foundation, and Alibaba Public Welfare Foundation to African countries also include donations to the South African government.

They will provide extra supplies to South Africa, including hundreds of thousands of masks and testing reagents, as well as protective suits and face shields, forehead temperature guns and ventilators.

The Chinese Embassy and enterprises in South Africa have donated infrared thermometers to the South African government.

The Chinese enterprises and communities in South Africa have generously donated R3 million to the South African government, of which R1m came from Huawei.

A Chinese mask company in ­Durban urgently ordered mask production equipment from China to expand production capacity, and donated all the masks they produced to South Africa. The provincial government and police of KwaZulu-Natal have received 30000 masks donated by the factory.

Recently, Huawei South Africa, Bank of China Johannesburg branch, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Africa office, China Construction Bank Johannesburg branch and other Chinese enterprises donated more than 1.3million surgical masks, as well as protective suits, goggles, ventilators and other supplies to South Africa.

The Chinese communities in South Africa will further continue to provide donations.

China’s Zhejiang province has also donated 60000 masks to its sister province in South Africa, the Eastern Cape, and Guangdong province is also preparing to provide supplies to KZN.

The Chinese Embassy invited experts from Shanghai to hold a video conference with South African health officials and WHO representatives in Africa to share experiences in epidemic prevention and control, which was highly appreciated.

We have also provided the South African Department of Health with the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Prevention and Control Manual, and participated in a video conference on international diplomacy in the fight against Covid-19 organised by the South African Department of Science and Innovation, to share the experiences of Chinese scientists.

South Africa is the only African member of BRICS and the G20. Aside from co-operation through bilateral channels, are South Africa and China communicating and co-ordinating in their fight against Covid-19 within BRICS, the G20, and other multilateral frameworks?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and South Africa have maintained close co-ordination under such mechanisms and platforms as BRICS, the G20 and the World Health Organization (WHO), and firmly supported these organisations in playing an active role in leading the international response to the pandemic.

It was with the active participation and support of China and South Africa that the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit was successfully held.

During the summit, President Xi Jinping put forth a series of important proposals including resolutely fighting an all-out global war against Covid-19, making a collective response for control and treatment at the international level, supporting international organisations in playing their active roles, and enhancing international macro-economic policy co-ordination.

This will strengthen the international co-operation on pandemic prevention, and control and stabilise the world economy, and improve global public health governance.

At the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak, BRICS countries issued a collective presidential statement, firmly supporting China in its fight against the pandemic. Recently, the BRICS New Development Bank has offered South Africa $1bn (R18bn) in loans to help it cope with Covid-19.

The health systems in African countries are relatively weak, and in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, Africa will struggle to cope. President Xi Jinping mentioned offering support to Africa in his phone call with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Explain to us how China has helped Africa.

China and Africa always offer assistance to each other in testing times. In 2014, China took the lead in assisting Africa in fighting Ebola, and fought side by side with the African people until the final victory, which played an important role in leading the international community to help West African countries overcome the epidemic.

China has donated $20m to the WHO, which mainly aims to help developing countries, including Africa.

Not long ago, the first chartered plane of the Chinese government arrived in Ghana, carrying about 40 tons of medical supplies donated by China to 18 central and western African countries.

The Jack Ma Public Welfare Foundation and Alibaba Public Welfare Foundation from China have donated 100 000 masks, 1 000 protective suits, 1 000 protective face shields and 20 000 testing kits to each of the 54 countries in Africa.

The donation has arrived in Ethiopia, and most countries have received the supplies. The second batch of donated supplies is already on its way to Africa.

China has always taken concrete actions instead of paying lip service to helping Africa.

* Shannon Ebrahim is Independent Media's Group Foreign Editor

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