Coronavirus shows BRI extends beyond economic partnerships

By Song Wei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/26 23:01:58

An Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight filled with medical supplies donated to Africa from the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation arrives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 22, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

As coronavirus outbreaks escalate in the US and Europe, Africa, which is relatively vulnerable to the pandemic, is facing larger potential economic and social impacts. After receiving support from African countries in combating its own coronavirus outbreak, China is now closely following the spread of the virus on the continent and is providing medical supplies and sharing relevant experience. The mutual support amid the pandemic proves once again that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become an effective platform for global governance rather than economic cooperation alone.

The coronavirus has spread to 43 countries in Africa, and the continent's current condition is of great concern. According to media reports citing the latest updates from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), a total of 2,412 cases had been confirmed by Wednesday, 590 of which were reported that day. Considering Africa's resource-limited healthcare systems, if the virus spread accelerates, disastrous consequences will follow.

Europe now poses a major risk to Africa, as most new coronavirus cases reported in several African countries since last weekend have been linked to travel from Europe. Despite measures taken by many African countries to prevent and control local outbreaks, the situation is thus far pessimistic.

Although coronavirus outbreaks in Africa are seemingly only beginning to unfold, their impacts are already apparent. If the situation continues to escalate, economic and social order will be interrupted. China and its companies have reached out to African countries and have provided assistance in three areas.

First, medical supplies such as face masks and testing kits have been donated to help fight the coronavirus. A batch of supplies donated by Alibaba founder Jack Ma's charities arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday and are being distributed across the continent as it scrambles to contain the spread of the virus. Many other Chinese companies have also made medical supply donations to African countries.

Second, China has shared and is willing to further share its virus prevention and diagnostic experience. On March 18, a video conference was held among Chinese and African medical experts so that China could share its experience combating the virus. Nearly 300 experts from 24 African countries and the Africa CDC attended the virtual conference.

Third, China is assisting Africa to strengthen its public healthcare system. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and its African counterpart have quickly begun cooperation on the basis of their previous joint fight against Ebola, and have shared information on how to better prevent and control the epidemic. China is also providing materials such as diagnostic tools and case management manuals to help African countries diagnose and treat cases more effectively. China's assistance in the Africa's battle against the pandemic has profound and far-reaching influence in terms of upgrading the BRI's role in global governance. The joint fight enhances BRI policy and people-to-people exchanges. China's successful public governance experience in its own victorious battle against the coronavirus is guiding African countries' defenses, through which national friendships have been consolidated and cooperation in various fields has been deepened.

These joint efforts of China and Africa are another example of their all-around cooperation. The coronavirus pandemic is a major challenge facing people all over the world. Countries should help one another and overcome difficulties together. China and Africa are good friends and partners. Both sides have always supported and helped one another.

Since the outbreak began, China has been adhering to the spirit of building a community with a shared future for humanity, actively sharing experience with African partner countries and further strengthening relations with African countries. Faced with this challenge, China and Africa will work together to achieve victory, and their shared future model will resonate around the world.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

Posted in: ECONOMY

blog comments powered by Disqus