New chapter for long friendship

Since the novel coronavirus broke out more than a year ago, China and Zimbabwe have been working hand in hand to fight against the pandemic.

Since the novel coronavirus broke out more than a year ago, China and Zimbabwe have been working hand in hand to fight against the pandemic. Relations between the two countries grew even stronger as the political mutual trust, practical cooperation, and people-to-people friendship deepened. The comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation demonstrated remarkable resilience.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 41 years ago, China and Zimbabwe have maintained close communication at the highest levels ensuring the robust all-weather friendship between the two countries. The state-to-state relationship was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation in 2018 following the joint decision of President Xi Jinping and his Zimbabwean counterpart President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who reaffirmed the importance of continuously growing the bilateral relations during their meeting. In January 2021, the China-Zimbabwe relationship received another boost when State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the Southern African nation.

China and Zimbabwe both stand against unilateralism and illegal sanctions and work for a more just and reasonable order in international relations. On multiple occasions, President Mnangagwa has publicly commended China's development philosophy, underlining the significance of China's development experience for other developing countries.

The long-standing friendship grew more solid during the crisis brought about by the global pandemic. At the critical moment of China's fight against the virus last year, Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, several cabinet ministers, and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the ruling party, were among the first in the world to voice support in letters and public statements for China's approach to and achievements in containing the pandemic, condemning the stigmatization of China, and expressing their confidence in China's capacity to tide over the difficulties.

China has also been a most reliable partner and supporter of Zimbabwe's fight against the virus. Chinese and Zimbabwean medical experts held a number of virtual meetings to exchange experience and practices.

In May 2020, a Chinese medical expert group came to Zimbabwe to assess the preparedness of the country. They visited infectious diseases hospitals, national virus testing laboratories and local medical institutions, held training workshops for frontline medical workers and offered customized recommendations. Their contribution was well recognized in Zimbabwe.

Chinese governments at various levels, the Chinese business community and overseas Chinese in Zimbabwe also donated much-needed medical supplies and set up and spruced up hospitals to put Zimbabwe in a stronger position against the pandemic.

In mid-February, China donated vaccines to jump-start Zimbabwe's national vaccination campaign. Only two days ago, the second consignment of vaccines, both donations and procurements arrived in Zimbabwe, giving strong support to the second phase of the program,

This is part of the broader China-Africa vaccine cooperation, which is protecting people across this continent. It speaks of the great sense of responsibility and commitment to action of the Chinese government. Saving lives is the most important protection of human rights.

Looking ahead to a world profoundly changed by the pandemic, China and Zimbabwe are set to embrace new opportunities and poised to achieve more.

China and Zimbabwe will be a strong voice for international solidarity. COVID-19 has made our world vulnerable to the dangerous practices of unilateralism, protectionism and bullying. However, institutions such as the United Nations, and international law and multilateralism remain critical and still enjoy the overwhelming support of the international community. China and Zimbabwe are like-minded friends who abide by the same principles of peaceful development, fairness, justice and solidarity. Together, we will contribute greatly to building a global community with a shared future.

China and Zimbabwe will work for better health of their people. At present, helping Zimbabwe win the anti-virus fight and revive its economy is the top priority in our bilateral cooperation. The two countries will make good use of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which is due to meet again in Senegal this year, to upgrade cooperation in healthcare, such as the pairing-up of hospitals and introduction of traditional Chinese medicine and vaccines. Together, we can overcome the pandemic, build a stronger public health system and make our people healthier.

China and Zimbabwe will receive another boost for development by dovetailing their development strategies. In 2021, China starts to implement the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and Zimbabwe launches NDS1, its first five-year plan for national development. The two countries will work for higher quality in their cooperation by tapping into the potential these two grand strategies promise. A lot can be achieved in food security, industrialization, scientific and technological innovation, and digital economy.

Going forward, China will continue to closely follow Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith in cooperation with Zimbabwe and Africa at large. With the support of the two peoples, our bilateral cooperation will bear more fruit and make new contributions to the development of a community with a shared future in the post-pandemic era.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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