A shared future for the world fighting Covid-19
01 October 2020 | Opinion
Today marks the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China as well as the Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival). In this joyful festival atmosphere, I would like to extend my sincere holiday greetings to all the Namibian friends who pay attention to and support China-Namibia friendship, Chinese compatriots and all Chinese institutions in Namibia.
This year is a milestone in the development history of China. China will complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects as scheduled and win the final victory of the anti-poverty fight. It means that China for the first time in its history, will eliminate absolute poverty and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals on poverty alleviation 10 years ahead of schedule.
Since the founding of New China in 1949, led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), all ethnic groups in China have been striven and united, and achieved remarkable progress. From 1952 to 2019, China increased its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by more than 1400 times and became the second largest economy globally with its per capita GDP exceeding US$10 000. China has transformed itself from an impoverished country into the world’s second largest economy, the biggest industrial country, the largest trader of goods and the largest foreign exchange reserve country.
In particular after the reform and opening up and for the past eight years, China has scored the leapfrog of its economic aggregate, continuous upgrading of its industrial structure, brilliant achievements in infrastructure construction and a new pattern of coordinated development between urban and rural areas and between regions. The effect of reform and opening up are prominent and the sense of gain and happiness of Chinese people are increasing significantly. China’s economic growth has contributed over 30% to global growth for the past 10-plus years. Particularly, the scientific and technological strength of China has improved notably with its modern information technology such as big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and aerospace, quantum science, biotechnology leading the world. There are 133 Chinese enterprises in the ranking list of Fortune Global 500 this year, putting China at the top of the chart.
This year is also the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. China was the first country to sign on the UN Charter and the only developing country that takes a permanent seat on the Security Council. China is a peace-loving country and has always upheld peaceful diplomatic policies and followed the path of peaceful development. No matter how powerful China would become, it will never seek hegemony.
In the current world, globalisation is an unstoppable historical trend. All the countries are integrating with one another and becoming interdependent. All humans are living in the same global village. In the era of globalisation, cold war mentality, ideological lines and zero-sum game are no solution to a country’s own problem, still less an answer to mankind’s common challenges. China advocates to replace conflict with dialogue, zero-sum with win-win, mutually respect each other’s self-determined developing path and pattern and build a big global family of harmony and cooperation.
China has always been a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. China will continue to shoulder its responsibility as a major country, stick to multilateralism, safeguard the multilateral trading regime based on the World Trade Organisation (WTO), uphold the international system with the UN at its core in a bid to promote the construction of new type of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind.
This year, both for Chinese people and for the world, is a very special year with the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc around the world and posing a serious threat to people’s lives and health. China was the first country in the world that was attacked by Covid-19 pandemic. Facing the pandemic, Chinese government has always put people and life at the first priority and taken a series of decisive measures including lockdown. The whole country rushed to assist epicentre Wuhan and Hubei Province. Hundreds of thousands of medical workers risked their own lives, fighting in the front line. The ordinary people actively cooperated with the government and followed the relative anti-epidemic regulations. After eight months’ endeavour, China not only becomes the first country that controls the spread of the virus, but also the first major economy globally that resumes positive growth.
China also zealously participated in the international anti-pandemic cooperation while doing its domestic work, bearing its due responsibility as a major country. After the pandemic broke out, China immediately notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) and relative countries and regions, released the coronavirus gene sequence and shared controlling and treatment experience with all parties without any reservation. In the past six months, China has offered urgent medical donations to more than 150 countries and four international organisations, provided and exported anti-pandemic materials to more than 200 countries and regions, and sent 34 medical expert teams to 32 countries.
This year witnesses the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Helping each other and jointly fight against COVID-19 are the new highlights in the ever closer China-Africa relations. At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19 held in this June, President Xi Jinping announced that China will cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020 within the FOCAC framework, and work with other members of the G20 to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). China also pledged that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.
In the first half of this year, the total trading volume between China and Africa exceeded 82 billion US dollars. China’s direct investment to the whole industry in Africa was altogether 1.72 billion US dollars, scoring a year-on-year growth of 1.7% against global economy downtrend, which has played a vital role in boosting the resumption of industrial and supply chains and economic recovery in Africa.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-Namibia diplomatic relations as well as the independence of the Republic of Namibia. The seeds of our friendship were sowed in the 1960s and growing stronger as time goes on. Entering the 21st century, our relations have reached a new level. In 2018, China-Namibia relation was elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership and the two countries signed an agreement to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative. The bilateral pragmatic cooperation has been deepened continuously since then. In the two consecutive years of 2018 and 2019, China was Namibia’s biggest export market. In 2019, China became Namibia’s largest trade surplus country as Namibia registered a trade surplus of 19.285 billion Namibian dollars with China. Since 2017, China has been Namibia’s biggest source of foreign investment for 3 consecutive years. Especially, the Husab Mine, a good example of our bilateral win-win cooperation, annually contributes 5% of Namibia’s fiscal revenue.
In our joint fight against the pandemic this year, China-Namibia traditional friendship has been further consolidated. In late January this year, President Hage Geingob was among the first foreign heads of state to send China condolences letters and express support. In the beginning of this April, the two heads of states had a telephone conversation. President Hage Geingob was the very first head of state who did this in the sub-Saharan Africa countries since the Covid-19 broke out.
After Covid-19 cases were reported in Namibia, the Chinese government, China local sister cities of Namibia, Chinese enterprises and non-governmental charities shared the feelings of Namibian side and donated plenty of medical supplies to support Namibia’s anti-pandemic efforts, which include ventilators, masks, gloves, goggles, oxygenerators, test kits and so on. The total value of those is around 44 million Namibian dollars. Chinese medical experts have held 5 teleconferences with their Namibian counterparts to share anti-pandemic experience. Chinese people in Namibia also actively supported the local anti-epidemic work and have already donated 29 batches of medical materials and food packages, among which there are over 220 000 masks.
Human beings are always compassionate despite the ruthless pandemic. We believe that with the joint efforts of Namibian government and its people as well as the help from China and the international community, Namibia will definitely defeat the virus and resume normal life and production soon. We will take the victory over the pandemic as a starting point and enhance cooperation in all fields so as to realize common prosperity and make greater contributions to building the community with a shared future for mankind.
* Zhang Yiming is China’s ambassador to Namibia.