By Li Nan
We are glad to see that with the strong support of the international community, including China and the tremendous efforts made by the South African government and people in the past six months, the pandemic situation in South Africa is getting better and the national lockdown restrictions have been eased to alert level 1.
The dawn of victory is just on the horizon. In the face of the unexpected outbreak of Covid-19, the governments of our two countries have shown strong leadership and lost no time in taking co-ordinated and swift epidemic prevention and control measures. Our two peoples have fought the battle against Covid-19 with a great spirit of braving the danger with fortitude, tenacity and mutual assistance, which has not only injected positive energy into our own Covid-19 response, but also set a good example for global anti-epidemic co-operation, bringing hope to the countries where the pandemic is raging.
China and South Africa always put people and life-saving first. After the reporting of the epidemic in Wuhan earlier this year, China made the decisive move to suspend outbound travels from Wuhan and Hubei and put in place unprecedented, rigorous quarantine measures. We have mobilised the whole nation to save lives on an unprecedented scale.
According to statistics, the medical expenses for every Covid-19 patient in China averaged about R55 000, with severely ill patients exceeding R360 000, and critically ill patients reaching as high as hundreds of thousands or even millions of renminbi. All the expenses are covered by the government, in order to increase the cure rate and reduce the mortality rate.
The South African government has also imposed an unprecedented nationwide lockdown and conducted large-scale community-based nucleic acid testing, saving thousands of South African people’s precious lives.
A R500 billion economic support and social assistance programme has also been launched to upgrade residential areas, and improve water supply and sanitation in order to stem the spread of the epidemic in densely populated areas.
China and South Africa have taken decisive, efficient and science-based measures to contain Covid-19. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have balanced different imperatives and lost no time in waging an all-round people’s war to stem the life-threatening spread of Covid-19 to more areas.
China has raced against the clock to build makeshift hospitals, and followed a science-based approach to treat infected patients with traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, trace close contacts through big-data and health-code identification and develop vaccines.
This has provided strong scientific and technological support for our fight against Covid-19, and our successful experience has been drawn upon by South Africa and other countries.
Since the first confirmed case was reported in March in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa immediately set up and led the National Command Council for Covid-19 response, and declared a national State of Disaster.
The ANC government has taken a series of epidemic prevention and control measures, and it took the South African government just four months to successfully develop and produce its own ventilators, making South Africa the first country in Africa to have home-grown ventilators. Thanks to its efficient medical and health system, South Africa has scored remarkable achievements in Covid-19 prevention, control and treatment, with a recovery rate of as high as nearly 90%.
China has worked closely with all countries, including South Africa, in Covid-19 response for a shared destiny. China reported the outbreak of Covid-19 to the international community, and shared with the world the genetic sequencing of the virus, the diagnostic and therapeutic protocols and the Covid-19 prevention and control experience, at the earliest time and without reservation.
Despite the difficulties in prevention and control at home, China has sent 34 medical expert teams to 32 countries, including African ones, to share experience in fighting Covid-19. China has provided 283 shipments of medical supplies to more than 150 countries and four international organisations. China has provided and exported anti-epidemic supplies to more than 200 countries and regions.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and South Africa have been uniting and fighting as one against the epidemic, demonstrating the firm determination of our two countries to share weal and woe and tide over the difficult times together, and injecting strong positive energy into China-Africa and global anti-epidemic co-operation.
President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa have exchanged letters, messages and telephone calls on many occasions, and jointly hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19, to explore ways and means for China and African countries to defeat the virus together.
During the most difficult time of China’s fight against the epidemic, South Africa has provided precious moral and material support to China.
Meanwhile, China has also donated millions of rand, more than six million masks, hundreds of thousands of testing kits, ventilators, protective suits and other anti-epidemic supplies to South Africa and shared Covid-19 prevention and control experiences with South Africa. We will continue to provide assistance to South Africa in light of its needs.
China and South Africa are committed to upholding multilateralism and opposing the “political virus”. At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19, President Xi Jinping made it clear that China would join hands with Africa to uphold the global governance system with the UN at its core and support the World Health Orga- nization (WHO) in making greater contributions to the global Covid-19 response.
President Ramaphosa said Africa and China would strengthen co-operation under such multilateral frameworks as the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, the AU and WHO in order to jointly respond to the epidemic and promote Africa’s economic and social development.
The important consensuses are keeping with the trend of the times and conducive to promoting international anti-epidemic co-operation, safeguarding the common interests of China, Africa and other developing countries, and upholding multilateralism and international fairness and justice.
China has become the first country to bring Covid-19 under effective control and restore economic growth. We are fostering a new dual-cycle development architecture with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and with domestic and international development reinforcing each other. South Africa is also gradually resuming work and production and promoting economic recovery.
Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will continue to work with South Africa to chart the course for post-Covid-19 co-operation.
Li is the Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa
The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of IOL.