We are living in an era where countries and peoples in the world are interdependent and inseparable. On one hand, we are all benefiting from globalization through international trade and technology revolution. For example, JAVA House Kenya AA coffee beans are sold to China via online platform with a profitable price of Sh2700 per package (375g). On the other hand, we are also bearing risks together, such as financial crisis, climate change and infectious disease. Facing challenges, some people start to call for de-globalization, only to protect their interests. However, just as H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta says, “if one of us fails, we all fail”. De-globalization and unilateralism will only impair our capability to fight against common challenges. Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping also steadily supports globalization and multilateralism, and has announced his proposition to address these challenges — to build a community of shared future for mankind.
For this proposition as well as China and Africa’s shared vision of globalization and multilateralism, the unprecedented COVID-19 epidemic is a touchstone.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in China, many African countries including Kenya have provided material and spiritual support for China. “The grace of dripping water should be reciprocated by a gushing spring”. Holding this ancient Chinese proverb dear to our heart, we support African countries to the best of our ability.
In China, up till now, not a single Kenyan national was infected by COVID-19, even for Kenyan students in Wuhan, the hardest-hit city in China. To soothe their stress and ease their homesick, Chinese and Kenyan MFAs and Embassies completed a special relay to distribute free gift bags of coffee, tea and nuts, during the suspension of almost all means of logistics. On April 30th, Julian, one of the Kenyan students, gave birth to her second daughter in Wuhan during the lock-down. This cannot happen without the courage of Julian herself, help of local community workers and facilitation of our two governments. As an Ambassador, I am always ready to provide assistance to these young people who are civil Ambassadors to build the bridge between China and Kenya.
Chinese nationals from all walks of lives are also working with their Kenyan friends to overcome difficulties. To better contain the epidemic, donations of medical supplies (2 batches by Chinese government, 3 batches by Jack Ma Foundation and around 20 batches by Chinese companies) have been delivered or to be delivered to Kenya; direct cargo flights were resumed between China and Kenya; to support “buy Kenya, build Kenya”, we are trying to find a producer of high standard BFE melt-blown fabric for Kenyan factories to produce N95 face masks.
In the future, China will remain committed to its solemn commitment to build a community with a shared future for mankind. At the 73rd World Health Assembly in May, President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide US $2billion to help with COVID-19 response in affected countries, especially developing countries. A cooperation mechanism will be established to pair up Chinese hospitals with their African counterparts, and the Africa CDC headquarters will be ramped up.
To tide over difficulty, on 17th June 2020, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, jointly proposed by China, South Africa (the rotating chair of the AU) and Senegal (the co-chair of the FOCAC), was held via video link. Leaders of African countries including H.E. Kenyatta, Secretary-General of the UN and the Director-General of the WHO joined the summit calling for solidarity between China and Africa against COVID-19.
President Xi pledges that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit. Furthermore, he also encourages Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20’s DSSI and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees.
The history of civilization is one that repeatedly overcomes challenges. COVID-19 is only one of them. Isolation only makes us weak, while unity keeps us strong. Let’s remain united as one, keep coordinated and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
H.E Wu Peng is the Ambassador of the Peoples’ Republic of China to Kenya