MFA: Assistant Minister Chen Xiaodong Meets with African Diplomatic Envoys to China

On 13 April, Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong held a group meeting with ambassadors and representatives from over 20 African countries to discuss the situation of Africans in Guangdong Province with regard to the local COVID-19 response.

Chen underscored that for the Chinese people, the African people have always been dear friends and brothers to share weal and woe with. Ours is an unbreakable friendship that has taken deep root in the hearts of people both in China and Africa. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, China and Africa have once again come together to fight the challenge. China feels deeply for African friends who are now also battling the virus and has provided emergency containment supplies to Africa despite its own outbreak challenge. Chinese provinces, cities and businesses have also sent help in various ways.

Chen noted that the outbreak is a serious test. At this particular juncture, China and Africa need to strengthen solidarity and maintain friendship and cooperation more than ever. The Chinese side will do everything it can to deliver more support to Africa, and fight with Africa until the final victory is won against the outbreak.

Chen said that China has taken the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough action to fight the virus. That is how China has been able to achieve important progress in controlling the outbreak, albeit at huge cost. As the outbreak continues abroad, China is facing a growing challenge in preventing imported cases. This is particularly the case with Guangdong, a leading province in China's opening-up endeavor, with much higher risks of inbound transmission. We must institute more rigorous measures across the board and tighten all potential loopholes that may trigger a rebound. This is the only way to make sure that everything we have worked so hard to achieve will not be lost. China is doing this not just to be responsible to its own people, but also to the Africans and indeed all foreign nationals in Guangdong.

Chen said that China is paying serious attention to the issues raised by some African diplomatic envoys regarding the situation of Africans in Guangzhou and elsewhere involved in local outbreak response. Guangdong authorities are taking a number of steps to improve its response. Health measures will be implemented in a non-differential way. Starting from the day of this meeting, measures on Africans who are neither confirmed cases nor close contacts (suspected cases included) will be lifted in a phased way pursuant to relevant containment protocols. A mechanism for effective communication will be established with African consulates general in Guangzhou.

The Chinese government treats all foreign nationals in China alike. This is China's consistent policy and position. In China, we always make sure that African friends are treated in a fair, just and friendly manner. The Foreign Ministry will stay in close contact with Guangdong to earnestly address the legitimate concerns of the African side.

Chen underscored the importance of preserving China-Africa friendship and contributing to the battle against COVID-19 both globally and in China. He hoped that the African envoys would correctly understand China's policies and measures and explain the facts fully and objectively to their governments and people, so they could see the full picture and view the issue in a rational way. Chen also hoped that African governments will do what is necessary to protect the safety and lawful rights and interests of Chinese nationals and institutions in Africa.

The Acting Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps and other African diplomatic envoys expressed appreciation to the Chinese Foreign Ministry for holding the meeting and having open, in-depth discussions with them on the situation of the Africans in Guangdong. They said it demonstrates the seriousness and sincerity of the Chinese side in dealing with this matter and sends a positive message of the two sides being willing to engage in friendly consultation.

The envoys recognized the profound friendship between Africa and China that has withstood the test of time. When the outbreak began, African leaders and people were among the first to voice support for China. African envoys in China chose to stay behind and stand firmly together with the Chinese people. The Chinese side also took great care of African students in the City of Wuhan, making sure that they stay healthy and live a normal life, which is deeply appreciated by the African side.

The envoys said that the government and people of China, through great sacrifice and hard work, have achieved important success in the fight against the outbreak, setting an example for the world and providing experience and confidence to Africa in its response to the disease. They thanked China for actively supporting and assisting Africa's control efforts in spite of difficulties.

The African side raised concerns over specific issues in Guangdong Province's outbreak control related to African nationals, such as nucleic acid testing, accommodation, visa, and the treatment of African students. They commended the Chinese side for informing them of the steps already or to be taken by Guangdong authorities, including establishing channels of dialogue and communication with African consulates general in Guangzhou. The envoys said that they will immediately, fully and faithfully report to their capitals and notify their nationals in Guangdong, and look forward to the timely and effective implementation of such measures. The African side will work with the Chinese side to urge and guide African nationals to abide by Chinese laws and observe the containment measures of China.

The envoys said that it is their mission and duty to promote Africa-China friendship and cooperation and they will continue to serve as the bridge and bond between the two sides. Africa and China are good brothers and partners. The issues that occurred in Guangdong are issues between brothers and can be resolved entirely through friendly consultation. No external force, with whatever motives or methods, can stop the strengthening of Africa-China friendship.

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