China is ready and willing to provide much-needed Covid-19 vaccines to South Africa, as long as local legal frameworks and requirements are met, Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong has said.
The Chinese top diplomat made the remarks during a virtual seminar hosted by international asset management company Ninety One on Wednesday.
“China will continue to provide PPEs (personal protective equipment) to the South African side and share response experience. Vaccines are the most crucial resources in fighting against Covid-19,” said Chen.
“China attaches great importance to South Africa’s demand and is willing to fulfill the commitment to make Covid-19 vaccines global public goods. We will give priority to supplying Chinese vaccines to the South African side.”
“We are ready to provide vaccines to the South African side as long as there is a need and an approval by the regulatory authorities here, so as to benefit the South African people at an early date,” he added.
Several African countries in Africa including Zimbabwe and Nambia have received Chinese vaccines.
Pressure is mounting on the South African government to widen its vaccination campaign. So far, fewer than 200,000 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19. A follow-up batch of 66,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrived in the country this month to boost the government’s Sisonke vaccine trial programme.
The national health department says its reserves of one million doses of the Indian AstraZeneca vaccine have been sold because of its low effectiveness against the South African variant of Covid-19 which emerged late last year.
The Chinese envoy said Beijing would continue to work towards strengthening the exchange of experience and eradicating poverty in South Africa.
“In particular, we are ready to help formulate targeted poverty alleviation strategies and ensure that resources are effectively used for poverty alleviation individuals and areas,” he said.
“China is also willing to take stronger actions to support South Africa in overcoming Covid-19 and other difficulties, so as to better deliver post-Covid economic recovery and sustainable development.”
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 years in a row, and South Africa has been the Asian economic giant’s largest trading partner in Africa for 11 consecutive years.
Bilateral trade between the two countries now accounts for nearly one-fifth of the total trade between China and Africa. Despite disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, statistics from the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria show that total trade between the two countries stood at US$35.84 billion in 2020.
Chinese enterprises including Hisense, Huawei, FAW, BAIC, Longyuan Power, ICBC and others, have reportedly invested and financed more than US$25 billion in South Africa, creating 400,000 jobs.