Covid-19: China rescues Africa. Does the Chinese Century begin?

Frammenti Africani

Frammenti Africani è un resoconto giornalistico di tematiche complesse del Continente Africano, futuro epicentro economico mondiale, dove coesistono potenze economiche e militari, crescita economica a due cifre, guerre, colpi di stato, masse di giovani disoccupati e una borghesia in piena crescita.
Un mosaico di situazioni contraddittorie documentate da testimonianze di prima mano e accuratamente analizzate per offrire un'informazione approfondita sulla politica, economia e scoperte scientifiche di un mondo in evoluzione pieno di paradossi.

Fulvio Beltrami

Fulvio Beltrami
Originario del Nord Italia, sposato con un'africana, da dieci anni vivo in Africa, prima a Nairobi ora a Kampala. Ho lavorato nell’ambito degli aiuti umanitari in vari paesi dell'Africa e dell'Asia.
Da qualche anno ho deciso di condividere la mia conoscenza della Regione dei Grandi Laghi (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, ed Est del Congo RDC) scrivendo articoli sulla regione pubblicati in vari siti web di informazione, come Dillinger, FaiNotizia, African Voices. Dal 2007 ho iniziato la mia carriera professionale come reporter per l’Africa Orientale e Occidentale per L’Indro.
Le fonti delle notizie sono accuratamente scelte tra i mass media regionali, fonti dirette e testimonianze. Un'accurata ricerca dei contesti storici, culturali, sociali e politici è alla base di ogni articolo.



Frammenti Africani

Apr 7

Covid-19: China rescues Africa. Does the Chinese Century begin?

While Western NGOs are suspending projects and repatriating their expatriates, China comes to the rescue of Africa. When Covid19 storm will end everyone will remember how governments and people reacted and acted during the pandemic. It is appropriate to say that Coronavirus opens the doors to the Chinese Century and sanctions the inevitable decline of the West

di Fulvio Beltrami

china, africa, humanitarian aid, cooperation, covid19, coronavirus, jack ma, alibaba


While Western NGOs are suspending projects and repatriating their expatriates, China comes to the rescue of Africa despite the still low percentage of infections: 6,342 across the continent equal to less than 0.5% of the infections worldwide. They are two worlds that are confronting each other. The world of western solidarity, historically used to alleviate the most evident effects of the diktats imposed on African countries by the IMF and the World Bank, transformed into 'solidarity business', and the Chinese world where there is no place for solidarity or cooperation but only for opportunities and conveniences. The latter is no better than the first but when necessary it is immediately present, ready to offer its help, albeit interested and calculated.

Health assistance to Africa was decided by the omnipresent Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party with a State and private jount operation. At the forefront is billionaire Ma Yun (nicknamed Jack Ma) who is the master of the online sales empire Alibaba, a fearsome opponent of Amazon. Jack sent 5.4 million masks, 1 million rapid Covid19 tests, 40,000 protective kits, 60,000 protective kits for medical personnel to Africa. And this is only the first stock of the aid package envisaged by Alibaba with an initial allocation of over $ 200 million.

The state has sent the first 'division' of the army of doctors: 1,000 infectious disease specialists who will have to work in all African countries alongside local health personnel. 250 training sessions for 10,000 African doctors on how to deal with the global pandemic are scheduled for the next two weeks. Other trainings are planned for healthcare professionals to improve their knowledge of COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment. By care we mean health care and the most effective medicines against the symptoms produced by the virus, including pneumonitis and other respiratory diseases. The government also plans to launch a continental video conferencing platform to offer African doctors and healthcare workers technical and health assistance to deal with the epidemic.

The details of health care have been meticulously explained to international media by Li Mingzhu, head of the State Commission of the Chinese Department of Trade and International Economic Cooperation.

But China does not differ from Western NGOs (on the run) only for this powerful and consistent help. Faithful to the Third World rhetoric that has always characterized China since the days of Mao Tzetung, Beijing has chosen not to use intermediaries (NGOs) for this historic health cooperation. Paradoxically, the Communist Party has chosen 'bilateral cooperation' between state and state, carried out by technicians and experts of proven fame. That bilateral cooperation that was at the heart of the humanitarian actions of the European States in the 1980s and 1990s, foolishly abandoned to entrust the (by now meager funds for cooperation) to the 'solidarity sector' through reforms of national cooperation’s that have actually produced a worsening on the quality of interventions in favor of the so-called 'Third World'.

The Chinese state and billionaire Ma Yun have chosen two African partners to coordinate aid to the continent: Ethiopia and the Africa Union's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (AfricaCDC) based in Addis Ababa. The guiding principle of this choice is easy to understand: African aid managed by Africans!

Obviously the most reliable African country was chosen, famous for its organizational capacity and its 'Soviet' zeal, a never-repudiated legacy of the period of the Stalinist dictatorship of the DERG led by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam who in 1974 ended the feudal regime of Hailé Sélassié called the Negus.

Sending equipment and medical aid to all 54 African countries, with different geographical conditions and different levels of infrastructure, is a gigantic logistical headache and a huge challenge. Given the nature of the virus that expands rapidly between states and populations, our help must be delivered as quickly as possible. This is why we have chosen Ethiopia as our partner, a strategic country and a continental air logistics hub. " Explains the owner of Alibaba.

A lucky economic opportunity for the Ethiopian state airline Ethiopian Airlines which is recording appalling losses due to the almost total suspension of both continental and international flights. Billionaire Ma Yun and the Beijing government will pay Ethiopian Airlines with commercial tariffs to transport tons of medical aid to all parts of Africa. Beijing has contacted all 54 African governments to obtain special landing authorizations at international airports (most of them closed since mid-March to limit Covid-19 contagion).

A secondary partner has also been identified, Rwanda who will be entrusted with the task of organizing remote training and the dissemination of rapid Covid-19 tests in East Africa. Ethiopia and Rwanda represent both a strategic and radical change in the Chinese strategy aimed at Africa. How to note the absence of the partner until recently privileged by Beijing, South Africa, which is also a member of the BRICS? The reasons for this choice made by the Communist Party are still unclear. Understanding South Africa's decline in China's global strategic plan for the Continent takes time as an event that is neither expected nor foreseeable.

We cannot abandon this continent inhabited by 1.3 billion people at Coronavirus. We have found that the world cannot understand the dramatic consequences in Africa if the contagion from COVID19 will spread across the continent. For this reason private individuals and states in China have joined forces to help our brothers in full respect of the ideals of solidarity between the peoples and Pan African and Asian principles, the only ones capable of building a more supportive, peaceful and worthy world " declares the billionaire by Alibaba.

Let's get out of the political rhetoric wisely used by the Chinese Communist Party to coldly analyze what they mean and what impact China's aid will have on Africa threatened by the Coronavirus.

This aid is possible thanks to the immense resources of reserves of precious currency that Beijing possesses and to the model of State Capitalism which is proving superior to the western capitalist concept of "free market" not only to be able to manage a world pandemic but to be able to manage the economy on a planetary scale thanks to a rigid programming that is based on the five-year plans (now ten years) of communist memory.

China demonstrates the hypocrisy of the West to Africa. Western NGOs are fleeing because there are no funds allocated to them in this world pandemic. Europe is not even able to conceive a united response to the pandemic, leaving Member States free to make national and often antagonistic decisions. The United States, in retreat with its 'American First', offers no help or assistance. In Africa not only Western NGOs to flee. USAID and European Union Rapresentatives have disappeared from the majority of African countries without even trying to devise a plan for aid and intervention in favor of African weak public health systems, destroyed by decades of 'rigor policies' imposed by the IMF and the Bank World. Only the Italian Cooperation (now called AICS) seems to have chosen to remain alongside us Africans, according to the testimonies received from Sudan and other countries in which it operates.

As an altar to this 'desert of the Tartars', China places itself from the first country hit to the country in the front line in the fight against the pandemic that does not hesitate to fund its financial resources to help not only African countries but any country, such as you are seeing in Italy. Mind you there is not so much humanitarian spirit in this choice. Only a thoughtful and studied ability to take the opportunity that the Coronavirus tragedy offers: that of making concrete gestures that save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

When the storm clears everyone will remember how governments and people reacted and acted during the pandemic. It is appropriate to say that Coronavirus opens the doors to the Chinese Century and sanctions the inevitable decline of the West.

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