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Chinese president pledges one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 11 - 2021

China has pledged to donate one billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to Africa as the world grapples with the unequal distribution of the shots between rich and poor countries.
President Xi Jinping said his country would donate 600 million doses directly. A further 400 million doses would come from other sources, such as investments in production sites.
Xi said China would encourage Chinese companies to invest no less than $10 billion in Africa across the next three years.
The Chinese President made the promise Monday in a video speech to the opening ceremony of a China-Africa forum on economic cooperation.
"We need to put people and their lives first, be guided by science, support waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, and truly ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa to bridge the immunization gap," he said.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which is held every three years, is being hosted by Senegal. It runs through Tuesday.
The pledge of additional vaccine doses – on top of the nearly 200 million that China has already supplied to the continent – comes as concerns intensify about the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus, known as Omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa.
Vaccination rates in Africa are low compared with the rest of the world, with many states at the mercy of foreign donations due to the lack of local production facilities and prohibitive costs of mass purchases.
Beijing has also donated millions of doses of its home-produced Sinopharm vaccine to poor African countries since the start of the pandemic.
Critics charge that China's largesse forms part of a diplomatic offensive, however.
Xi also said a China-Africa cross-border yuan center would be set up to provide African financial institutions with a credit line of $10 billion, without giving further details.
China's total imports from Africa, one of its key sources of crude oil and mineral supply, will reach $300bn in the next three years, Xi said, adding that the two sides would cooperate in areas such as health, digital innovation, trade promotion and green development.
Beijing invests heavily in Africa, and is the continent's largest trading partner with direct trade worth more than $200 billion in 2019, according to the Chinese embassy in Dakar.
At the forum held in Diamniadio near Senegal's capital Dakar, the country's economy minister Amadou Hott said a shift in the commercial relationship with China was needed – away from projects financed by African governments taking on large debts.
"We need more equity investment," he said, pushing for Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in local companies.
Beijing has often faced accusations of "debt-trap diplomacy" due to the scale of its lending to developing countries in Africa and elsewhere, using its creditor status to extract diplomatic and commercial concessions. — Agencies


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