Pretoria – China is actively encouraging Chinese companies to resume their projects across Africa as Covid-19 lockdown measures are eased or scrapped.
Chinese business and massive developmental projects that were under way prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic will be brought back on stream, according to the Chinese ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong.
“China will continue to encourage more Chinese enterprises to return to Africa to resume work and production, seek greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative with the 2063 Agenda of the African Union, and speed up the implementation of the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China–Africa Co-operation and the Extraordinary China–Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19,” Xiaodong told African News Agency (ANA) in an interview.
“We shall step up co-operation in priority areas like public health, economic recovery and the improvement of people’s livelihood.”
Chen said China will continue to provide anti-pandemic supplies and continue to send medical expert teams and share best anti-pandemic practices with African countries and assist Africa in purchasing anti-pandemic supplies.
Several vaccines developed by China have entered phase three clinical trials.
“After being put into use, they will be made global public goods to benefit African countries first. China signed an agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to officially join Covax on October 8, which is an important step China has taken to honour its commitment to build a global community of health for all,” said Chen.
On the economic front, he emphasised that Beijing will be central in the construction of more industrial parks and special economic zones, promote trade and investment facilitation and, jointly with Africa, create new highlights in existing co-operation in such areas as the digital economy, e-commerce, smart cities and 5G.
“China will support the sustainable development of Africa in various fields. During the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide another US$50 million to the UN Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, and offer US$50 million to the China–FAO South-South Co-operation Trust Fund, phase three,” said Xiaodong.
“China will implement President Xi Jinping’s commitments and deepen co-operation with Africa in the fields of agriculture, poverty reduction, education, women and children, climate change and food security, so as to help African countries achieve sustainable development.”
Chen, a high-ranking former Chinese assistant foreign minister, arrived in South Africa last month, replacing former Chinese ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian, who is now president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) back home.
“It is a great honour to serve as the sixth ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa,” said Xiaodong.
“As assistant foreign minister covering Africa, I made many trips to South Africa and other African countries. I saw for myself the fast and all-round progress of China–South Africa, and China–Africa relations,” he said.
“In recent years, under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, the China–South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership has been growing soundly and smoothly, and our trade and economic co-operation has yielded fruitful outcomes.”
He highlighted that China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and South Africa has remained China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 10 consecutive years.
“In 2019, the two-way trade between China and South Africa exceeded US$42 billion, accounting for one-fifth of the total trade volume between China and Africa. Up to now, there are more than 200 Chinese enterprises in South Africa, with a total investment and financing of more than US$25 billion, creating 400,000 jobs for local people,” said Chen.