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Zambia envoy eyes stronger ties with China

By MO JINGXI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-02 07:33
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Winnie Chibesakunda

Joint efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic present another platform to broaden and deepen the relationship between Zambia and China, the African country's top envoy in Beijing said.

As the disease rages globally, Zambia has reported 97 confirmed novel coronavirus cases with three deaths as of Thursday, according to the World Health Organization.

The first batch of anti-epidemic medical supplies from the Chinese government-including medical face masks, protective suits and infrared thermometers-arrived in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, on Tuesday.

"Many Chinese doctors are working with our local doctors in many health institutions under the already existing bilateral framework and without any doubt, this new challenge will create new avenues of expanding the scope of cooperation programs" which could include preventing and controlling of emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases like COVID-19, Winnie Chibesakunda, Zambia's ambassador to China, told China Daily in a written interview.

Chibesakunda said that despite its domestic challenges, China has shown global leadership and demonstrated a strong resolve to assist countries in fighting the spread of the contagion by sending medical supplies and technical teams to various countries, both developed and developing.

According to her, both Chinese State-owned enterprises and private companies have voluntarily assisted Zambia. For example, the country has benefitted from the Jack Ma Foundation's donation of COVID-19 test kits, protective equipment for front-line staff, masks and thermal guns, among others.

"Given the capacity challenges faced by many African countries' weak health systems, the timely assistance by China will help save lives and give time to African governments to build domestic capacity to deal with the crisis," she said.

Chibesakunda noted that what is needed now is for all African governments to seriously consider investing in the health sector by building more hospitals and focusing on research and development.

"We thank the Chinese government because under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, flagship projects such as the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention and China-Africa Friendship Hospitals were considered," she said.

The projects are among the 50 medical and health aid programs that China has decided to upgrade for Africa under the country's eight major initiatives in close collaboration with African countries proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2018.

Having personally witnessed the positive results achieved by the Chinese government and its people in managing an epidemic of such magnitude in record time, the ambassador said she has appreciated the roles played by the strong leadership of the central government and the Communist Party of China, and the capability of the various State institutions and provincial governments in the handling of the pandemic and the public's support.

"Despite the unexpected nature of this outbreak and the complexity of dealing with an unknown virus, the Chinese government demonstrated an uncommon level of unity, preparedness, agility, commitment, efficient coordination of institutions at all levels, coupled with the invaluable collective cooperation and support of the public," she said.

"The response of the Chinese government and its people to the COVID-19 pandemic has been exceptional and very inspirational."

Chibesakunda said that China's anti-epidemic experience is very beneficial for the rest of the world as the nation has gained a lot of knowledge and experience in effective ways to contain the spread of the virus.

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