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Chinese Foreign Minister says New Year trip conveys firm support for Africa

ABUJA, (The Southern African Times) – Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Tuesday that his ongoing visit has demonstrated the unbreakable friendship between China and its African brothers and China’s firm support for the development and revitalization of African countries.

He made the remarks during a joint press conference with Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama when responding to a question on why the Chinese foreign minister visits Africa despite the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his answer, Wang said that China has a good diplomatic tradition that the foreign ministers should visit Africa first at the beginning of each year.

China hopes that this action practically shows the high importance it attaches to Africa, he said.

Noting that this tradition has been held for the past three decades, Wang said that it should not be interrupted by the pandemic this year and China won’t flinch.

African countries, he added, are also looking forward to the arrival of Chinese friends.

The Chinese side is willing to overcome the difficulties brought about by the pandemic so as to persist in making the visit to Africa the first visit of the year, and work with Africa to tide over the current difficulties, promote cooperation and seek a common future, Wang said.

The Chinese foreign minister said that his visit to African countries –Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles –aims to convey four messages regarding China and Africa’s joint effort to build a closer community with a shared future.

Firstly, China firmly supports Africa in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang said.

In the face of the unexpected coronavirus outbreak, China will not forget Africa’s strong support for its fight against virus, Wang said, adding that China has also provided anti-epidemic materials to 53 African countries and the African Union to alleviate their urgent needs.

In particular, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held in June 2020 provided important strategic guidance for the two sides to work together to prevail over the pandemic, he noted.

China, he added, is willing to implement the results of the summit, continue to provide medical material assistance to African countries in need, dispatch medical expert teams, carry out diagnosis and treatment experience exchanges, promote cooperation between counterpart hospitals, and construct the project of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters, and improve Africa’s public health emergency response capabilities.

Meanwhile, China is committed to realizing the availability and affordability of vaccines in Africa and helping African people overcome the pandemic at an early date, he said.

Secondly, China firmly supports Africa in accelerating economic recovery, Wang said.

China is willing to establish a “fast-track” arrangement for people-to-people exchanges with African countries in need, promote the resumption of major cooperation projects in Africa in an orderly manner, accelerate Belt and Road cooperation, and help Africa stabilize the economy, safeguard employment, and improve people’s livelihood, he said.

China welcomes the official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and is willing to support the process of African integration, he said, adding that the Chinese side will encourage Chinese enterprises to increase investment in Africa, and support Africa’s efforts to bolster industrialization and realize independent and sustainable development at an early date.

Thirdly, China firmly supports the upgrading of China-Africa cooperation for higher quality, Wang said.

Noting that the overall implementation rate of the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit in 2018 has exceeded 70 percent amid the impact of the epidemic, he said the eight major initiatives proposed at the summit have achieved a remarkable success, with the initiatives covering industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, health care and people-to-people exchanges warmly welcomed by the Africa side in particular.

According to Wang, the two sides have plans to hold a new forum meeting this year.

Wang said he will discuss with African colleagues how to ensure the goals of the Beijing Summit are achieved as scheduled, work with the African side to get the new forum meeting well prepared, and promote China-Africa cooperation in the post-pandemic period towards higher quality so as to bring more benefits to people’s livelihood.

Fourthly, China firmly supports Africa in enhancing its international influence, he said.

The world is facing major changes unseen in a century, and China and Africa are natural partners, Wang said, adding that as the international situation enters a period of turbulence and transformation, China is willing to strengthen strategic communication with Africa on major international and regional issues in a timely fashion, hold high the banner of multilateralism, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, oppose external interference, defend fairness and justice, and push for a more just and reasonable international order.

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