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Supporting Africa in Fighting Ebola: China demonstrates new conduct on diplomatic front

2014/11/22

On a recently held news briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on China’s assistance to Africa in fighting Ebola, Director-General Lin Songtian of the African Affairs Department said that the total assistance China provided for fighting Ebola had reached 750 million yuan, covering 13 African countries and international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the African Union. China’s assistance to combat Ebola in Africa features being “new, fast, pragmatic, comprehensive and open” with outstanding “new”characteristics.

As Ebola epidemic broke out in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone of West Africa last March, China took immediate actions in providing emergency relief, offering four rounds of assistance in April, August, September and October, showing its readiness to take responsibilities in the face of this most serious “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)”defined by the WHO and demonstrating new conduct on the diplomatic front as a major power.

“New”charactistics are embodied in the form. Good brothers are solidary by heart. In early August, President Xi Jinping sent messages of condolences to the heads of state of the above three countries, and announced the third and fourth rounds of assistance respectively during his overseas visit and meeting with visiting African leaders, showing care to the governments and peoples of Ebola affected countries and importance attached to the international public health security as China's top leader, which is record making in the history of China’s assistance to Africa. Presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea all thanked President Xi for the hearty messages and emergency assistance, believing that it is great spiritual encouragement and valuable material support to the governments and peoples of the three countries to combat and defeat Ebola, praising China for taking the lead in the world. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang also exchanged views with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon respectively in August and October on Ebola combat and called on the international community to pay more attention and give more support to African countries’ efforts in countering Ebola. Secretary-General Ban commended China for its strong support to Africa countries, saying that China has played an important role and served as an good example in the world.

“New” characteristics are embodied in deed. It is an unshakable obligation to help brothers when they are in difficulty. For the first time in the country's history of aiding Africa, China booked large chartered airplanes on a number of occasions to transport the much needed supplies to the three Ebola affected countries at the earliest possibilities. China also donated a mobile Ebola testing laboratory to Sierra Leone, built and operated an Ebola treatment centre in Liberia and sent formed units of anti-epidemic professionals and military medical personnel, which were all pioneering in China’s overseas aid history. So many “first times” and the “Chinese speed” deeply touched Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who felt surprised and thankful as well.

“New” characteristics are also embodied in idea. A friend in need is a friend indeed. China and Africa share weal and woe and support each other in time of difficulties. China's large-scale assistance to Africa in fighting Ebola has vividly embodied its policy idea towards Africa proposed by President Xi featuring “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith”. China, once again, proved with real actions that the Chinese government means what it says. Just as President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone has put it, China reaches out its hand when Sierra Leone needs it most, and China is a friend indeed.



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