WATCH: Multi-disciplinary panel affirms need for Africa-China co-operation to beat Covid-19

By Poltical Bureau Time of article published Jun 16, 2020

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 Cape Town - With the Covid-19 pandemic reaching crisis level around the globe, it has become crucial to utilize the power of media and civil diplomacy to assist African nations curb the spread of the virus. 

From African business moguls to Chinese diplomats, participants in an all-important and well-subscribed webinar agreed that no country on its own can defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

This message was affirmed during a webinar jointly hosted by African News Agency (ANA), Global Max Media Group, Independent Media, People’s Daily Online and the R1 Foundation on Monday.

The webinar was aimed at enhancing people-to-people diplomacy and media cooperation between the African continent and the People’s Republic of China and its various entities.

Li Nan, the Chargé d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in South Africa, said that while anti-Chinese sentiments have been brought into the picture and have poisoned his country's efforts in the fight against the pandemic, this battle requires global cooperation.

Li Nan - Chargé d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in South Africa

“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.

Miles Nan, the President of Botswana based Global Max Media Group was emphatic that “we are all in this together” and 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.

Miles Nan - President of Botswana based Global Max Media Group

The executive chairman of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Survé, says the African continent and the world needs Chinese leadership at the present moment as other countries are turning backs on the continent.

Survé said while the media group he chairs gives China news coverage, unlike others, it was doing so with no malicious intentions and it was doing so objectively.

Dr Iqbal Survé - Executive chairman of Independent Media

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.

Wang Wenan - Chairman of the SA China Economic and Trade Association

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.

Jacqueline Musiitwa - UN consultant 

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.”

Shirley Wenzhou Zhang - Communication University of China

Here's what the other participants had to say:

Zeng Aiping - Deputy Director, Chinese Institute of International Studies, Development Countries

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Ndiphiwe Eric Madiba - Royal house of Mandela and political scientist at University of Johannesburg

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Iris Wu - Confucius Institute at the University of the Western Cape 

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Anna Protas Mwasyoke - Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation senior journalist

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Anwar Adams - President of the Democratic Independent Party

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Boitumelo Senokoane - General Secretary of Academic and Professional Staff Association (APSA)

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He Wenping - Institute of West-Asian and African Studies

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Kuang Weilin - Former Ambassador of the Chinese Embassy in Freetown

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Zhang Zhenke - The Institute of African Studies at Nanjing University

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Dr Cliff Mboya - Fundan University

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Albert Ni - Chief Journalist, ChinAfrica magazine

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Mary Hing Hing Lai - Founder Of Sino Egypt Friendship Bi Monthly Chinese And Arabic Magazine In Egypt

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Kuben Chetty - Political editor, Independent Media KZN Region

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Hangwei Li PhD Candidate Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London

Video edited by Volt Africa

Political Bureau

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