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Amid Covid-19, China pushes for open, global co-operation
By CG Lin Jing, published on Cape Times, November 12

Against the backdrop of the ravages of Covid-19 and many parts of the world suffering new waves of the pandemic, the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) has been successfully held from Nov.5-10 in Shanghai China.

With both online and offline exhibitions and even an on-site zone on public health and pandemic prevention, the CIIE has drawn More than 2,700 businesses from over 120 countries and regions, which not only provides a global platform for international procurement, investment promotion, cultural exchange and open cooperation but also demonstrates China's strong resilience and determination to push forward openness and global cooperation.

As H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Republic of South Africa and the Chair of the African Union said in his warm messages on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd CIIE, South Africa has been a regular participant since the very first CIIE in 2018 and China is a longstanding and valued trade partner to both South Africa and the continent of Africa.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1998, with joint efforts, the bilateral relations between China and South Africa have realized a triple jump from partnership to strategic partnership and then to comprehensive strategic partnership. China has been South Africa's largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and South Africa remains China's largest trading partner in Africa for 10 consecutive years. In 2019, the two-way trade between China and South Africa exceeded US$42 billion, accounting for one-fifth of the total trade volume between China and Africa. Against the headwinds of the Covid-19, the China-South Africa practical cooperation and bilateral trade have maintained strong momentum and great resilience. According to the data released by the South African Customs, from January to July this year, China-South Africa bilateral trade accounted for 15.48% of South Africa's total foreign trade volume, registering a year-on-year increase of 0.83%.

Especially during the joint fight against Covid-19, the Chinese government and people from all walks of life, and the local Chinese communities and enterprises have donated large amounts of cash as well as urgent anti-pandemic supplies such as medical masks, face shields and protective suits and so on to support South Africa's pandemic response. Furthermore, China hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against Covid-19 in Beijing and has been voicing support with Africa for each other and tiding over difficulties through thick and thin. China has held six health experts' meetings with the African side via video-conference to share experience, sent medical professionals to 15 African countries, and 46 Chinese medical teams in Africa helped the local communities combat the epidemics. Recently, the medical supplies sent by the Chinese government through the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) have been delivered to 53 African countries for women, children and the youth to fight Covid-19.China has pledged that once the development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.

When taking the lead in effectively containing the Covid-19, China has outlined an overall plan of development in the coming 14th five-year plan period and will foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. China's envision is not a development loop behind closed doors, but more open domestic and international circulations, which not only to meet China's own development needs but also for the greater benefit of people in all countries. Meanwhile, South Africa lately unveiled its economic reconstruction and recovery plan and African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest one in the world is to begin in 2021.

China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group that exceeds 400 million. The vastly huge China market is the most promising in the world. Total import into China is estimated to top 22 trillion US dollars in the coming decade. Chinese manufacturing now makes an important and positive part of the global industrial and supply chains. Demand on the massive domestic market in China will continue to unleash endless potential for innovation. China market is becoming a market for the continent of Africa and the world, a market shared by all, and a market accessible to all.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the instability and uncertainty facing the world economy, unilateralism, protectionism and even hegemonism is on the rise, the overwhelming trend for upholding greater openness and cooperation remains unchanged. A commitment to mutual opening up featuring shared benefits, shared responsibilities and shared governance is the earnest call of the times as well as a right way-out for all countries to tackle unprecedented challenges and embrace a brighter tomorrow.

In a new era facing the challenges by Covid-19, which is a tough test for all countries, China and South Africa and African countries share deep, unbreakable friendship. China and South Africa can join hands to play a leading role in holding high the banner of China-Africa friendship and multilateralism and fostering a China-Africa community with a shared future. China-South Africa partnership which endured difficulties in trying times will surely stride towards greater mutual openness and cooperation and yield more tangible outcomes for our two countries and peoples.

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