Diplomats, business moguls, politicians, academics concur Covid-19 requires united effort
Cape Town - From African business moguls to Chinese diplomats, all parties concur that no country on its own can defeat the Covid-19 pandemic currently wreaking havoc across the globe.
This was the message during a webinar held on Monday and jointly hosted by African News Agency (ANA), Global Max Media Group, Independent Media, People’s Daily Online and the R1 Foundation.
The webinar was organised to enhance people to people diplomacy and media cooperation between the African continent and the People’s Republic of China and its various entities.
Making his input, Li Nan, the Chargé d'affaires officer at the Chinese embassy in South Africa, said while anti-Chinese sentiments have been brought into the picture and have poisoned his country's efforts in the fight against the pandemic, this is a battle that requires global cooperation.
He added that no country on its own can win the battle and the pandemic is too devastating to be handled without cooperating.
“The raging pandemic made it clear to us that countries around the world are increasingly becoming a community with a shared future. We all have a stake in other successes. No country can… fight alone against the pandemic, it is more urgent than ever for countries to deepen anti-pandemic cooperation,” Nan said.
Not to be left out of the all-important and well-subscribed webinar, Miles Nan, the President of Botswana based Global Max Media Group was emphatic when he reminded participants that “we are all in this together.” Furthermore, he reminded participants that Chinese businesses have been hammered by the Covid-19 just like their African counterparts.
“It is our commitment to assist African nations and of course ourselves because we are part of Africa(n) community and society,” he said.
Wang Wenan, the chairman of the SA China economic and trade association said the answer to this crisis which is also affecting their business community, was to stick together.
“So what can we do and also how can we get back to our normal lives for the whole continent? The answer is stay together, (work) hand in hand, stay stronger,” Wenan said.
Jacqueline Musiitwa, a UN consultant from Zambia, also echoed sentiments that Covid-19 is a battle too huge to be won through a solitary effort. She said for the African continent, the pandemic was a double whammy as it wrecked most currencies and destroyed fragile economies that were mainly reliant on China.
“Africa’s projected GDP growth for 2020 was 3.2 percent and unfortunately that has been reduced to negative… So effectively this means that the growth we were supposed to experience, we will no longer experience and this is due to either partial or whole restrictions to economies to trade. Covid has made what was a health situation even tougher across the continent, we have seen currency devaluation in South Africa and Zambia for instance,” Musiitwa said.
Since the webinar also looked at the role of African and Chinese media cooperation during the pandemic as credible is crucial, Shirley Wenzhou Zhang, the associate dean, Institute of Public Diplomacy, Academy of Media and Public Affairs at the Communication University of China said the role of the media is clearer.
“The coronavirus outbreak shows us all how important it is that the media play its part, report the hard facts, spread correct knowledge and tell inspiring stories. Building trust and dispelling lies should be all the banners of the building of the African-China friendship.”
* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.
** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za