Xi Jinping pledges to buy billions more vaccines for Africa during the Omicron event

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to provide an additional 1 billion doses of the vaccine to African countries, as the world’s poorest continent grapples with the emergence of a new and potentially contagious Covid-19 variant. higher transmission.

Xi said 600 million doses would be donated while the rest would be jointly produced by Chinese and African companies, but did not provide details. He spoke via video at the Eighth Triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in the Senegalese city of Diamniadio on Monday.

“We need to put people and their lives first, be guided by science, support disclaimers of intellectual property rights over COVID-19 vaccines, and truly ensure accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa to close the vaccination gap,” Xi said in a statement stated.
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China has sold 136 million doses of vaccine to Africa and pledged to donate 19 million, according to Beijing-based agency Bridge consulting, calculate deliveries through government press releases and newsletters. The consulting firm said on Monday Beijing had provided 107 million doses of that drug and another 11.6 million through its Covax initiative.

Xi said Beijing would provide African financial institutions with a credit line of $10 billion and encourage their companies to invest at least $10 billion in the continent over the next three years. It will also provide $10 billion in trade financing to help grow Africa’s exports to China to $300 billion over three years and allocate $10 billion in special drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund. economy – an international reserve asset – for African nations.

The two-day conference comes as African countries are facing the devastation of the pandemic, which is at risk of being exacerbated by the discovery of the omicron strain. China, as Africa’s largest trading partner, has an important role to play in the continent’s economic recovery.

“Xi Jinping’s keynote speech focused on the most immediate concern for the continent, which is the shortage of vaccines to fight the pandemic, especially due to the new variant,” said Lina Benabdallah, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University. She added that his vaccine pledge is the biggest to date to Africa.

Since 2006, China has doubled its investment commitment to Africa every three years at the FOCAC summit, Beijing’s main vehicle for managing its relationship with the continent. That stopped in 2018 when Mr. Xi matched China’s previous pledge of $60 billion, when the world’s second-largest economy came under fire because developing nations had unsustainable levels of debt. .

TCHANDROU NITANGA / AFP via Getty Images Workers unload boxes of about 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine donated in Bujumbura, Burundi’s economic capital, on October 14, 2021.

China’s relationship with Africa

Senegal’s President Macky Sall said China’s relationship with Africa had been “tested by the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“I urge China to continue supporting the continent by reallocating its SDRs from the IMF,” he said in opening remarks to the meeting ahead of Xi’s speech.

Beijing has emerged over the past decade as the biggest non-commercial international creditors, with state-owned policy banks lending more to developing countries than the IMF and World Bank. That lending has come under international scrutiny and has grown as the pandemic has forced dozens of countries to halt repayment.

Mr. Xi has been personally interested in the forum, giving a speech or attending the opening ceremony since he came to power. Before that, China sent its prime minister to attend the summit when it took place in an African country. China and the continent respectively host.

But while Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in person, Mr. Xi continued his recent tradition of appearing in illusions. The omicron variant was identified in Botswana and South Africa a few days before the event began, prompting countries around the world to ban visitors from several African countries.

Mr. Xi has not left his home for 681 days, returning to perform all diplomatic duties by phone or video link, a byproduct of China’s strategy to completely eliminate Covid cases. -19. That has limited his ability to hold face-to-face meetings on the sidelines of major events that could help defuse tensions.

African heads of state other than Sall were significantly absent from the event, although South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt spoke via video.

The summit comes the week after Secretary of State Antony Blinken signaled the US intention to restore long-neglected ties with Africa, where it is slowly losing influence to China and other major powers. other global countries.

Africa is consistently near the bottom of the US foreign policy priority list, with the world’s poorest continent accounting for less than 2% of total two-way trade. Relations have been running low during President Donald Trump’s tenure, during which he made disparaging remarks about African nations and high-level diplomacy was few and far between. Xi Jinping pledges to buy billions more vaccines for Africa during the Omicron event

Aila Slisco

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