China-Zambia ties closer after pandemic as China cares for African friends: Zambian Ambassador

By Li Qiao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/29 0:58:40

Mrs. Winnie N. Chibesakunda, Ambassador of Zambia to China Photo: Li Hao/GT

Zambia's Ambassador to China Mrs. Winnie N. Chibesakunda said her country appreciates China's efforts, responsibility and generous assistance to her country and the world in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the world to provide greater support for Africa in his speech at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 18. 

Chibesakunda said she is grateful to learn that China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries, as President Xi declared at the WHA.

"Under the umbrella of the G20 China strongly supports the international consensus to allow moratorium of debt repayments, and China, being one of the biggest creditors, makes this even more delightful news for debtor countries such as ours," she said.

Chibesakunda stressed that many African countries will be faced with challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic because of the global economic slowdown, as such debt repayment will be a big issue for most countries. Zambia is therefore glad to note China's support toward this special initiative.

"The process is still being done on the background that all G20 countries reach a consensus and have detailed measures for the implementation. I am very sure our authorities heard the pledge and we will certainly ensure we can benefit from the announcement," she said.

China will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals for COVID-19 preparedness. 

Chibesakunda said she is not yet aware if any Zambian hospitals are included in this plan currently. However, China has already been working with Zambia in disease control for a long time. 

Levy Mwanawasa Hospital, built by the Chinese government in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, provides 826 beds to treat COVID-19 patients.

Experts of First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University in Northwest China shared their experience in epidemic prevention and treatment with Zambian doctors via video on May 13, according to Shaanxi Daily.

Chibesakunda also expressed praise for China's promise to share the COVID-19 vaccine, when available, as a global public good.

Learning from China

In fighting the pandemic, the Zambian government instituted immediate measures which included suspending non-essential travel, banning social gathering and restricting religious and ceremonial gatherings.

However, Zambia still faced challenges including limited test kits, shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and logistical support, Chibesakunda said.

Zambia has reported 1,057 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths, as of press time. 

Chibesakunda was in China all the time during the pandemic. She appreciated that none of the more than 4,000 Zambian students in China was infected during the pandemic.

"China's anti-epidemic experience continues to be very useful to the rest of the world and Zambia continues to benefit from this vast knowledge. In short, China led the way as most other countries have adopted similar measures to varying degrees depending on their capacities," she noted.

Chibesakunda was deeply impressed by how Chinese people work with the government closely to fight against the virus.

It was very clear from the onset that despite the unexpected nature of this outbreak and the complexity of dealing with an unknown virus, in its response, the Chinese government demonstrated an uncommon level of unity, preparedness, agility, commitment, efficient coordination of institutions at all levels, along with the invaluable collective cooperation and support of the public, she explained.

She felt that the success achieved so far by the Chinese government and its people in managing an epidemic of such magnitude in record time can largely be attributed to the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China and its government, the capacity of the various state institutions and the public goodwill centered on China's strong cultural values of harmony, and loyalty to the government by living without violating laws. 

Chibesakunda hopes China can assist Zambia to build an infectious diseases research institute and develop industrial cooperation for medical instruments.

"China uses traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 patients. Zambia also has some effective natural remedies, which our people use against malaria. We can cooperate to find out how to use it to control the novel coronavirus together," Chibesakunda explained.

There are many Zambian students studying medicine sciences in China. She said she hopes that talent training and exchange will be closer.

"The joint anti-epidemic efforts present another platform to broaden and deepen relations between Zambia and China. I have no doubt that Zambia and China will further strengthen relations during epidemic and in the post-COVID-19 era," she noted.


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