CHINA / POLITICS
Chinese FM Wang Yi calls for COVID-19 vaccines to be made accessible and affordable in Africa
Published: May 20, 2021 01:48 PM


 
Chinese vaccines are unloaded from a plane at the Khartoum International Airport in Khartoum, Sudan, March 26, 2021. A batch of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the Chinese government to Sudan, arrived here on Friday. Photo:Xinhua

Chinese vaccines are unloaded from a plane at the Khartoum International Airport in Khartoum, Sudan, March 26, 2021. A batch of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the Chinese government to Sudan, arrived here. Photo:Xinhua



The international community needs to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are made accessible and affordable in Africa through free aid, preferential procurement, technology transfer and cooperative production, said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday.

Wang made the remarks when he chaired the UN Security Council (UNSC's) high-level open debate on "Peace and security in Africa: Addressing root causes of conflict while promoting post-pandemic recovery in Africa." China holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC for May.

Wang called on the international community to urgently offer more assistance to Africa in medical supplies, technology and funding, calling on all capable countries to urgently provide vaccines to Africa.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the debate that an equitable and sustainable vaccine roll-out worldwide is the quickest path toward a fast and fair recovery, and called for the sharing of doses, the removal of export restrictions, ramping up of local production and full funding for the COVAX Facility.

 "Of the 1.4 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered to date, only 24 million — less than 2 percent — have reached Africa," he said.

China and Africa also jointly launched the Initiative on Partnership for Africa's Development, calling on the international community to step up support for Africa in areas including fighting the epidemic, post-epidemic reconstruction, trade and investment, debt relief, food security, poverty alleviation and climate change, Wang said.

"We welcome more countries and international organizations, especially Africa's traditional cooperation partners, to join the Initiative," Wang said, noting that we will strengthen coordination and cooperation, practice true multilateralism, and gather strong synergy in support of Africa's development.

At a media briefing on the Initiative on Thursday, Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Wu Peng said that China will come up with more detailed plans and financial support at the upcoming 2021 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in late November or early December in Senegal.

In terms of vaccine help, Wu said China has been supplying vaccines to nearly 40 African countries, and China is by far the largest supplier of vaccines to Africa.

The Initiative said we support the waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, and Wu said that it's what African countries cared about.

Vaccine donations cannot solve the vaccine supply problem in Africa and we need to support localized production, Wu said, noting that Chinese vaccine manufacturers have started cooperative production in Egypt.

"Africa is a stage for international cooperation, not an arena for big-power competition. We reaffirm our strong commitment to true multilateralism," the Initiative said. It also called on the international community to help Africa increase debt sustainability.

China has signed debt relief agreements or reached debt relief consensus with 16 African countries, and cancelled interest-free loans due by the end of 2020 for 15 African countries, Wang said.


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