The role of China’s Health Silk Road to combat Covid-19 in Africa and Egypt


China has immediately activated its initiative for “Health Silk Road”, post the outbreak of “Covid-19” as a prominent part of its initiative for “Silk and Road”, and donated the necessary supplies to combat the epidemic in Egypt and more than 50 African countries. Chinese authorities have collaborated with the member states and leaders of the (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) “FOCAC” to recognize the main requirements of the African states. China contributed to the establishment of the (African Center for Disease Control).

    Most African countries have also received many (Chinese aid to confront the new Corona virus disease, which came in the form of governmental or private donations, whether from a number of Chinese provincial and municipal governments, and Chinese organizations and companies), which donated quantities of masks, protective suits, virus detectors and an x-ray examination system, CT scans of the lungs with artificial intelligence, and others. The most important aspects of Chinese cooperation with Egypt and African foreigners to overcome the low growth and lack of supplies resulting from the pressure of the Corona pandemic can be identified, as follows:

 1) China has sent (148 anti-epidemic medical experts to 11 African countries to support African countries in combating the novel coronavirus epidemic), and experts from both sides also held video conferences.

 2) The Chinese government has held intensive meetings and meetings to help the countries of the African continent overcome deficiencies after the spread of the pandemic, the most important of which are (the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-Africa Extraordinary Summit on Solidarity against “Covid-19” in Beijing), in confirmation on China’s role in always seeking to jointly build a “future for a common future for humanity”, as it has continued to assist African countries by sending expert teams, and by providing and facilitating the purchase of necessary medical supplies.

 3) In addition, (more than 40 Chinese medical teams traveled to help Africa with active work in a number of local regions and regions, where Chinese experts carried out nearly 400 training activities to acquire various skills to cope with the pandemic conditions), and to exchange experiences in combating the epidemic with the African side, and Chinese experts have trained more than 20,000 local employees, according to official statements issued by both sides.

 4) Chinese President “Xi Jinping” stressed that China (provided vaccines for about 40 African countries, including Egypt), also called on the major countries to fulfill their obligations to help the countries of the African continent with (President Xi’s invitation to the leaders of the Group of Twenty major economic countries in  Participation in providing vaccines to the African continent and reducing the burden of the pandemic), especially since some developed countries have secured vaccines for up to 80% of their population.

 5) Chinese President (Xi Jinping’s initiative of reducing the debt burden of poor African countries after “Covid-19”) came through President Xi’s announcement that (China has fully implemented the G-20 initiative to suspend debt service to help the poorest countries in  response to the pandemic conditions), in addition to (China has reached debt relief agreements with 16 African countries with a total value of more than one and a half billion dollars), and more agreements were signed with many other countries.

 6) Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for (the Chinese side to adopt the Partnership Initiative to Support Africa’s Development Supervised by the United Nations), was announced by Chinese Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” while presiding over a virtual open debate via video of the “UN Security Council” on May 2021, where (China called on the international community to provide more assistance on supplies, medicines, technology and financing to combat the epidemic in developing African countries), especially through various and diversified ways to ensure access to affordable vaccines in Africa, including:

(Non-refundable assistance, preferential procurement, technology transfer, and cooperative production)

 7) What was remarkable here was (China’s call for the international community to provide support to Africa in the areas of epidemic control, post-epidemic reconstruction, trade and investment, debt relief, food security, poverty reduction and alleviation, tackling climate change, as well as industrialization). Beijing also expressed cooperation and coordination with many countries and relevant international organizations, especially Africa’s traditional cooperation partners, to join this initiative, within the framework of (China’s commitment to the principles of African leadership, equality and openness to the continent and its emerging markets, strengthening coordination and cooperation, and commitment to true pluralism).

 8) On the Egyptian side, the Egyptian-Chinese cooperation in the field of health during the period of the Corona pandemic witnessed a great growth and escalation, in a multi-varied way through (China sent three shipments in batches as aid from China to the Egyptian people, with the Egyptian Minister of Health keen to visit China to declare Egyptian solidarity  with it).

 9) The most important forms of cooperation between Egypt and China were represented in (the cooperation and partnership agreement between the Egyptian company “Vaccera” and the Chinese “Sinovac”, which makes Egypt an important regional center for the manufacture of vaccines), and even one of the strong arms for the production of vaccines in the Arab region and the African continent.

 9) China has translated its assistance to Egypt in practice through (the Chinese government sent raw materials to produce nearly 100 million doses by the end of 2021), in addition to the continuation of the partnership between (Sinovac and Vaccera) as a fruit of cooperation in eliminating the “Covid-19” pandemic between the two Chinese and Egyptian sides.

 10) It also came (Chinese approval of the Egyptian request to cooperate in making Egypt a center for the Chinese vaccine industry), and China’s assistance to the Egyptian government in the field of (localizing Corona vaccine technology in Cairo and making it a center for exporting the vaccine to African markets and neighboring countries), especially with regard to the production of raw materials.  .

 11) The most prominent here is what was announced by the Chinese Ambassador in Cairo, Mr.ambassador, Li Qiang, through a press conference (that all Chinese projects continue to operate in Egypt during the pandemic period to ensure the continuation of Egypt’s economic growth), which led to the expansion of Chinese companies’ investments in Egypt, and his announcement of rising the volume of the direct Chinese business investments increased to 34.6% during the “Covid-19” pandemic period, to reach about $72 million.

 12) The work of Chinese companies in Egypt also continued during the Corona virus period, which completed the completion of the main structure of four buildings in (the new administrative capital in Cairo), including the highest skyscraper in Africa, and it is expected that four new buildings will be built with Chinese expertise.

 13) The confirmation of the Chinese Ambassador in Cairo, Li Qiang, came about (the Chinese-Egyptian cooperation zone “TEDA” in Ain Sukhna achieved sales worth more than 2.3 billion dollars by the end of September 2020, while it paid taxes to the Egyptian government that amounted to 170 million dollars, in addition to providing many job opportunities for the Egyptian youth during the pandemic period), where about 96 Chinese institutions and companies work, which have achieved investments worth one and a half billion pounds.

    Hence, we understand China’s keenness to enhance African-Chinese solidarity and consensus in combating the spread of the Corona pandemic, and to give a new impetus to cooperation between the two sides in light of the current developments, and the most important is Sino-African solidarity and cooperation, with (China’s keenness to transfer its experiences to build the capacities of African countries most in need  to help it overcome the pandemic crisis with the China’s invitation to African leaders to hold extraordinary summits and give priority to protecting the medical sector in the African continent through (a sufficient funding mechanism to ensure the availability of necessary medical and preventive supplies, as well as Chinese assistance in building and equipping African hospitals), especially in light of the limited available resources.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit