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Central SOEs helping Africa fight pandemic

By Cheng Yu and Liu Yukun | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-24 10:08
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An Algerian airport employee poses for a photo while unloading medical supplies from China State Construction Engineering Corp at Houari Boumediene International Airport in Algiers, capital of Algeria, on March 27. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China's centrally administered State-owned enterprises are strengthening efforts to play a bigger role in helping the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Algeria, a plane laden with 550,000 surgical masks, 2,000 protective gowns and 10 ventilators landed in the capital Algiers recently. Donated by China State Construction Engineering Corp, the supplies have provided timely help for the country.

"The medical supplies came at a time when Algeria lacks medical equipment amid the pandemic. China didn't give up on us," said Benbachir Lamia, a project engineer at CSCEC.

Ahcene Boukhelfa, Algerian ambassador to China, said CSCEC's efforts will further boost the long-term relationship between China and Algeria, and he spoke highly of the company's contributions to Algeria's economic development over the past 40 years.

Facing the increasingly severe pandemic in Ethiopia, CSCEC decided to refurbish part of the wards in a local hospital to help contain the outbreak there.

A team of more than 30 Chinese and local employees from CSCEC designed and helped build the facility in East Africa, which took only five days to complete.

As a major investment and construction group, CSCEC currently has branches and projects in 75 countries and regions. As the coronavirus outbreak intensifies overseas, the firm said that prevention and control of the pandemic should be a top priority for its overseas branches.

In March, CSCEC set up a pandemic prevention and control working group to oversee related work, including organization, coordination and supervision, for the group's overseas branches.

"Chinese centrally administered SOEs like CSCEC have shown their strength, speed and high sense of responsibility in helping with global pandemic prevention and control," said Liu Yu, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy in Ethiopia.

Apart from donations, centrally administered SOEs are ramping up production of medical equipment urgently needed in many countries.

It took only 72 hours for Sinopharm Group's Jiayuan subsidiary to deliver respirators to Morocco. The unit pulled together resources from eastern and central China and equipped emergency power conversion tools that could be put to immediate use in hospitals.

Sinopharm is also stepping up efforts to assist overseas subsidiaries of China's centrally administered SOEs to maintain necessary supplies to help stabilize the global supply chain.

The company has proactively contacted central SOEs to express its willingness to assist in the purchase of anti-COVID-19 supplies, and has received feedback from more than 50 central SOEs' overseas branches in over 30 countries and regions.

State-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp has donated 250,000 surgical masks to its overseas partner EDF Energy, as well as 20,000 medical masks to Framatome SA and 20,000 surgical masks and 3,000 goggles to Orano SA, both in France.

Another State-owned company, Sinoma Energy Conservation Ltd, donated 25,000 surgical masks to over 20 overseas clients and partners. Donations were also made by China Cosco Shipping Corp Ltd, which donated medical supplies worth 450,000 yuan ($63,600), including 50,000 surgical masks and 200 protective suits, to Italy.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said earlier at a news conference that China is offering as much medical assistance as possible to other countries in need while making full efforts to prevent and contain the coronavirus in China.

Sinopec Jianghan Salt Chemical Hubei Co Ltd exported 10,256 metric tons of a disinfecting bleach agent to over 10 countries including Italy, France and Australia, despite the company is also facing pressure in resuming production as it is located in hard-hit Hubei province.

China Railway Construction Corp (Intl) Ltd also constructed makeshift hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago to help with coronavirus treatment and control.

While helping the world combat the pandemic, centrally administered SOEs are also resuming work in an orderly manner so as to ensure the supply chain for foreign clients.

YAPP Automotive Parts Co Ltd, a subsidiary of State Development and Investment Corp, is also doing its part. As the third largest supplier of vehicle fuel storage systems in the world, the firm is resuming production step by step, especially in terms of its exports.

Its Shanghai factory, which is responsible for components of major automakers including SAIC Volkswagen, purchased medical preventive supplies to ensure worker safety.

Its Chengdu, Sichuan province factory has been successfully exporting fuel tanks to France during the pandemic.

"A consortium of SOEs are resuming operations in different regions and industries and working on several projects during the outbreak," said Xia Qingfeng, director of the Bureau of Publicity of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.

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