Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has promised that his country will cancel the debt of relevant African countries, particularly those that are hardest hit by the coronavirus, in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020, .
This is even as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday called on the international community to support collaborations and initiatives aimed at sharing knowledge from research and science to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
President Xi who spoke yesterday at a virtual Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against the COVID-19 co-hosted by the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), also pledged to continue to work with other members of the G20 to implement the DSSI while urging the G20 to extend debt service suspension still further for countries concerned, including those in Africa.
The summit was co-hosted by the Chinese president, South African president, AU chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Senegal president and co-chair of FOCAC, Macky Sall.
Xi said, “Within the FOCAC framework, China will cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020. For those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension, to help them overcome the current difficulty.
“We encourage Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees.
“China will work with other members of the G20 to implement the DSSI and, on that basis, urge the G20 to extend debt service suspension still further for countries concerned, including those in Africa.
He urged the world to mobilise resources and do whatever it takes to protect lives, adding that China will do whatever it can to support procurement of supplies, sending medical experts and in other diverse ways.
Noting that China and Africa account for nearly one-third of the global population, President Xi pledged to step up support for Africa, adding that China will provide $2billion over two years to support the work of the world Health Organisation (WHO) in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the face of COVID-19, China and Africa have withstood the test of a severe challenge. The Chinese people have put up a fierce fight and made enormous sacrifice to bring the situation in China under control.
“Still, we remain mindful of the risk of resurgence. In the same spirit, governments and peoples in Africa have put up a united front and, under the effective coordination by the African Union, have taken strong measures to effectively slow the spread of the virus. These are indeed hard-won results.”
He noted that COVID-19 is still affecting many parts of the world and both China and Africa face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilising the economy and protecting people’s livelihoods.
“We must always put our people and their lives front and center. We must mobilise necessary resources, stick together in collaboration, and do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives and health and minimize the fallout of COVID-19.
“First, we must stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together. China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response to COVID-19. China will lose no time in following through on the measures I announced at the opening of the World Health Assembly, and continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China.
“China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year. China will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals. Together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all. We pledge that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.”
Xi urged the world to stay committed to upholding multilateralism. He stated: “In the face of COVID-19, solidarity and cooperation is our most powerful weapon. China will work with Africa to uphold the UN-centered global governance system and support WHO in making greater contribution to the global COVID-19 response. We oppose politicisation and stigmatisation of COVID-19, and we oppose racial discrimination and ideological bias. We stand firm for equity and justice in the world.”
He further stressed that China will stay committed to taking China-Africa friendship forward. “The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Given the new opportunities and challenges we face, closer cooperation between China and Africa is needed, more than ever. On my part, I will stay in close touch with all of you, my colleagues, to consolidate our friendship and mutual trust, support each other on issues involving our respective core interests, and advance the fundamental interests of China and Africa and, for that matter, of all developing countries. This way, we will be able to take the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to a greater height.”