Chinese and Malian heads of state, Xi Jinping and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, met by videoconference during the extraordinary China-Africa summit on solidarity against Covid-19. The day of June 17, 2020 will strongly mark the annals of Sino-African friendly cooperation especially in the new circumstance of the fight against new epidemics.
From the start of the epidemic, the Malians never ceased to show their solidarity with the Chinese through messages from the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, and the support of associations and individuals. “It is in difficult times that you know real friends.” The Chinese will never forget. When the epidemic began to hit Mali, China, provided concrete support: materials (tests, masks, protective suits, respirators and drugs), facilities (field hospital, health center isolation and observation) and professional tele-training. When I go each time to receive the planes that bring hundreds of tons of urgent aid, I fully appreciate the weight of the Sino-Malian friendship.
Today, Sino-Malian or more generally Sino-African cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 has risen to a higher level, through this extraordinary summit, attended by the President of the African Union, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Here on the ground, I see three important elements:
First, the strengthening of the United Nations multilateral system. In the face of major crises, be they health, economic, security or environmental, no country can cope on its own. International cooperation matters more than ever. At the 73rd General Assembly of WHO a month ago, almost all the countries of the world, against all odds, resolutely supported the leadership and coordination role of WHO. Here in Mali the growing contribution of WHO, WFP and other UN agencies is making the fight against coronavirus much more fluid and effective.
Second, strengthening the mechanisms of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the New Silk Road Initiative. We are in the 20th year of the FOCAC. During the Beijing FOCAC summit in 2018, 8 main areas of cooperation were defined, including public health. The African CDC and 30 African hospitals are being implemented with Chinese aid. As for the new silk route to which Mali has just joined, it will further facilitate interconnectivity and exchanges in this area.
Third, strengthening the community of Sino-African destiny. China and Africa are already closely linked by traditional partnership and on the basis of equality (infrastructure, health, industry, trade, among others). For 60 years, people on both sides have benefited. Today, China is committed to making the coronavirus vaccine a public good, particularly for the benefit of African countries. In the post-Covid-19 era, I see new opportunities for cooperation in the digital economy that will strengthen our ties even more thanks to new information, communication, 5G and big data technology.
Last but not least: traditional Malian medicine which is, in my eyes, very promising. This rich heritage rooted in the people always requires development over time. China is partnering with Mali for scientific research and the enhancement of our traditional medicines with the Atelier “Luban” already installed at the University of Bamako. Rich in history and tradition, our two countries will advance together not only to overcome diseases, but also to promote our great cultures.
ZHU Liying is The Peoples’ Republic of China ambassador to Mali