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Fraternity crosses mountains and seas

By ZHANG YIMING | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-28 08:17
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Harsh times show who one's friends are and pandemic has further strengthened friendship between China and Namibia

At the beginning of 2020, the novel coronavirus swiftly spread around the world. In the face of the pandemic, China, Namibia and other African countries have been supporting each other and enhancing mutual solidarity and friendship, which is a vivid demonstration of the China-Africa community with a shared future.

As the first country to identify the outbreak of the new contagious virus, China, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping and with the whole country's efforts, successfully controlled the pandemic in a relatively short period of time. During the hardest part of its battle against the virus, African countries offered invaluable support. President Hage Geingob of Namibia was one of the first foreign leaders to send a message of condolence to President Xi. In the wake of the outbreak of the virus in Namibia, China took the lead among the international community in supporting Namibia.

China moved to help Namibia shortly after Namibia announced its first confirmed infection on March 14. The Chinese government, Chinese embassy in Namibia, Chinese sister cities of Namibia, the Jack Ma Foundation and Chinese enterprises and Chinese community in Namibia overcame difficulties, such as flight interruptions and city closures, to send more than 50 batches of urgently needed anti-pandemic materials to Namibia, effectively making up for the constrained medical resources of Namibia. Chinese medical experts have held five videoconferences with their Namibian counterparts to share their anti-pandemic experience. China has always been the quickest to extend practical and effective support to Namibia.

The Chinese community in Namibia has actively participated in the local fight against the pandemic. The Chinese embassy in Namibia called upon the overseas Chinese to strictly comply with relevant regulations and support local people in their fight against the virus, and required each overseas Chinese who returned from China to quarantine for 14 days. None of the 300 returnees was infected, and not a single imported case in Namibia is related to Chinese citizens.

The self-discipline of the Chinese has been widely praised by the Namibian government and the public. A Chinese construction company has swiftly completed the task entrusted by the Namibian government to build isolation wards in Walvis Bay, the center of Namibia to fight against the virus, becoming the most dazzling heroes in the country's battle against the virus. Chinese enterprises, such as CGN Swakop Uranium, have kept their production running without retrenching a single employee while faring well in pandemic prevention, contributing tremendously to local jobs, the economy and people's livelihoods.

China always attaches great importance to the health and safety of people from other countries, which is also the case for Namibia. During the pandemic, about 500 Namibian students in China, including 27 in Wuhan, have been taken good care of, and none of them have been infected. The Chinese side has also facilitated Namibian students' safe return to Namibia, which is an example of the two countries' people-centered governance.

The generous and selfless support from China to Namibia vividly exhibits not only China's strong sense of responsibility but also the special friendship between the two countries. When speaking to President Xi on the phone, President Geingob expressed his sincere gratitude to China: "As the best friend of Namibia and Africa, China has given timely assistance and valuable support to African countries in coping with the pandemic." The first lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, also stressed in her letter to Peng Liyuan, the wife of President Xi, that the friendship between China and Namibia is an all-weather one. The Namibian media also highly praised China's anti-pandemic achievements and the assistance provided to other countries.

Their joint fight against the pandemic encapsulates the friendship between China and Namibia over the past half a century. As early as the 1960s, China began to provide material and moral support to the Namibian independence struggle led by the Southwest African People's Organization. Since then, the two countries have forged a profound friendship. On the first day following Namibia's independence in 1990, China and Namibia established diplomatic relations.

Nowadays, the two countries' all-weather friendship has been upgraded to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. President Geingob has expressed his hopes of learning from China's experience in poverty alleviation.

Practical cooperation between the two countries is also gaining greater momentum. China has become Namibia's largest source of foreign investment and largest export market. The signing of their cooperation agreement under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative enables Namibia to take the fast train of development propelled by China. The past 30 years have also witnessed increasingly booming people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. China became Namibia's largest tourist source in Asia in 2019.The Confucius Institute and medical team contribute enormously to the growing popularity of the Chinese language and traditional medicine in Namibia. The recent launch of the Incredible China radio program has made Chinese food, tea and kung fu hot topics among the Namibian people.

As the Chinese saying goes, "Only in acute coldness can one see the resilience of pines and cypresses, only in harsh times can one tell true friendship." The pandemic has had an enormous impact on people's lives and the interactions among countries, but the exchanges between China and Namibia have never ceased. With the two countries' increasing exchanges, understanding and cooperation, the friendship between China and Namibia will be further consolidated, contributing to the building of a China-Namibia community of shared future.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Namibia. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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