Xi Jinping to chair summit on COVID-19 cooperation with Africa


Experts from China and 10 African countries hold an international video conference on “Fighting Against COVID-19 and Africa-China Cooperation,” April 17, 2020. (Zhejiang Normal University)

Chinese President Xi Jinping will preside over a high-profile China-Africa summit on solidarity against COVID-19 in Beijing on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a release issued on Tuesday.

Xi is expected to deliver a speech at the summit, which will be held via video conferencing.

Leaders of African countries, as well as the secretary-general of the United Nations and the director-general of the World Health Organization will attend the meeting.

According to the latest data from the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the continent reached 251,866, and 6,769 people have died.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, China said it’s been endeavoring to provide assistance to African countries.

Since early March, China has provided medical supplies, including test kits and medical protective gear to more than 50 African countries as well as the African Union , and it has also sent seven medical teams to the continent to share treatment and prevention experience and help train local medical staff, according to a recent government white paper.

Resident Chinese medical teams based in 45 African countries have acted swiftly to assist in the local response, and they have held nearly 400 training sessions for tens of thousands of African medical workers.

Moreover, China said it has suspended debt repayments for 77 developing countries and regions, as it’s working with other G20 members to implement the debt relief initiative for low-income countries mostly in Africa.

Addressing the World Health Assembly in May, Xi said African countries have weaker public health systems, and “helping them build capacity must be our top priority” in COVID-19 response.

Xi said China stands for the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and therefore, the country takes it as its responsibility to ensure not just the life and health of its own citizens, but also global public health.

Xi pledged to provide 2 billion U.S. dollars over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries.

He also said China will make COVID-19 vaccine a “global public good” that is accessible and affordable in developing countries especially African countries, when its development and deployment is available.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “Africa and China are friends and more importantly, comrades-in-arms. Nothing can change or damage this friendship.”

The two sides have stood by each in the battle against the pandemic, Wang said in annual press conference in May.

He said the China-Africa relations have stood the test of time and continue to flourish, and China will continue to stand by Africa as it fights the virus.

He also outlined China’s plans to help improve Africa’s public health system.

He said China will send assistance to African countries as a matter of priority, and it’s considering sending more medical expert teams to the continent.

China will also accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity, Wang said.