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Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong Addressed the Webinar Held by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection
On March 17, the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection held a webinar on "COVID-19 Pandemic, Geopolitics and the 'Belt and Road' Initiative". Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong and Ambassador Sooklal, Deputy Director-general of the Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, were invited to attend and address the webinar, which was attended by nearly 100 local scholars and think-tank representatives.  


Ambassador Chen pointed out that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, intertwined with and complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic unprecedented in a century, which has led to profound and complex changes in the international landscape and order, posing unprecedented challenges to mankind. Facing COVID-19, the world, more than ever before, needs to join hands in solidarity to fight the pandemic; facing the changing international landscape, the world, more than ever before, needs to practice multilateralism; facing the global economic recession, the world, more than ever before, needs to make coordinated responses.

Ambassador Chen introduced China's current economic and social development, indicating that through coordinated efforts to prevent and control the epidemic and boost economic recovery, China is expected to achieve an economic growth exceeding 6% this year, which will contribute more than one-third of global economic growth. China has broad prospects for sustainable development. Recently, President Xi Jinping announced that China has lifted nearly 100 million rural residents out of poverty under current standards and achieved the poverty reduction goals set by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, which is a major contribution to global development and explores a feasible path for developing countries to achieve development and prosperity. The Belt and Road Initiative has shown strong resilience and vitality in the face of the pandemic and will bring more opportunities to countries around the world. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. China, which has entered a new stage of development, implemented a new development philosophy and set a new paradigm of development, will open wider to the outside world and accelerate efforts to build an open global economy.

Ambassador Chen emphasized that China and Africa are good friends, good partners and good brothers. China-Africa cooperation has become a model for South-South cooperation and set a good example for international cooperation with Africa. No matter how the international landscape may change, China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future and common interests. We welcome African friends to board China's "express train" for common economic development. China is ready to work with Africa to implement the outcomes of last year's Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, further deepen solidarity and cooperation in fighting COVID-19, and jointly build a China-Africa community of common health. China will work to ensure the success of the new session of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and further expand areas of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa. China will strengthen strategic communication with Africa on major international and regional issues in a timely fashion, strengthen international solidarity and coordination, and firmly safeguard the common interests of developing countries.

Finally, Ambassador Chen said that the good stories and narrative rights of China-Africa cooperation should be in the hands of the Chinese and African people. He hoped that the press, media, scholars and think tanks, among other innovative ideas, of both China and South Africa, would actively enhance exchanges through flexible channels such as online and offline communication, provide a more balanced and objective perspective, send out more objective, rational and true voices, provide intellectual support for enhancing China-Africa friendship and deepening friendly and mutually beneficial China-Africa cooperation, and foster a favorable public opinion atmosphere.


Ambassador Sooklal said that China's economic and social development has shown strong resilience in front of the pandemic. China's rise is unstoppable, and the Africa-China friendship is unbreakable. For decades, China has actively delivered assistance to relevant countries and provided strong support for the economic and social development of developing countries. President Xi Jinping has put forward such initiatives as building a community with a shared future for mankind and jointly building the Belt and Road, which will inject China's strength into solving global development challenges and realizing common development. The Belt and Road Initiative is not a geopolitical tool but an initiative for cooperative development that will benefit developing countries, especially African countries. Africa and China should strengthen cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative frameworks and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, advance cross-border infrastructure construction and strive for post-pandemic economic recovery and development.

Director Mutambu said that the Belt and Road Initiative plays an increasingly prominent role in the geopolitical changes accelerated by the pandemic, which is of great significance to China's participation in leading the post-pandemic global order. African countries should seize the strategic opportunity brought by the joint building of the Belt and Road and strive to promote the construction of the regional value chain and the development of the manufacturing industry to realize the economic recovery after the pandemic.

Experts and scholars attending the webinar all agreed that Ambassador Chen's speech was rich in content and detailed in data. Especially the thinking and analysis of the international landscape evolution, economic recovery and the strategic opportunity of jointly building the Belt and Road in the post-pandemic period were highly thought-provoking. Experts and scholars attending the webinar also conducted in-depth discussions and exchanges on issues such as China-US relations, China's aid to Africa, debt relief initiative, China-Africa cooperation against COVID-19, and infrastructure cooperation.

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