PRETORIA – Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong on Wednesday said the massive spread of Covid-19 and its debilitating effect on business has not damaged the strong China-Africa co-operation and the numerous infrastructure-build projects under way in almost all African countries.
Responding to questions from the African News Agency (ANA) on the recent five-nation African tour by Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, which took him to Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles, the top envoy of China in Pretoria said the existing China-Africa ties have been boosted considerably.
“Minister Wang Yi said Covid-19 has not kept China and Africa from advancing their co-operation. China and Africa plan to have the next Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) meeting in Senegal later in the year. China will communicate closely with African friends. In light of the new developments, new imperatives and new opportunities in their co-operation, China and Africa will make good preparations on the deliverables of the meeting to upgrade and enhance their co-operation,” said Chen.
“China and Africa have further enhanced their people-to-people ties. The China-Africa Institute was inaugurated. A number of Confucius Institutes have been opened in African countries. Interactions in the fields of culture, arts, sports, health, tourism and between young people have been most fruitful. Eleven pairs of sister cities have been newly established, bringing the total number to 150.”
Chen said the African tour, which has become a long-standing Chinese tradition for Beijing’s foreign ministers to kick-start the year by touring the continent, gave Wang the opportunity to review the success of the triennial 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit.
“He gave a brief review of what has been accomplished during the past two years. China and Africa have worked closely on all eight major initiatives, namely industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security. Over 70 percent of the summit outcomes have been delivered,” said Chen.
“China and Africa have steadily advanced the Belt and Road co-operation. Despite the pandemic, over 1,100 co-operation projects have kept going and nearly 100,000 Chinese technicians and engineers worked dutifully under the limitations caused by Covid control. Their efforts contributed in important ways to the economic and social well-being of the local communities.”
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and South Africa has been 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. 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 locally, according to the embassy of China in Pretoria.