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Sincere friendship, mutual support


Joint efforts in fight against COVID-19 has laid the ground for greater post-pandemic cooperation between Algeria and China

Algeria and China are linked by a long traditional friendship that has endured for 62 years. Bilateral relations have been strengthened over time, especially since the establishment of the global strategic partnership in 2014.

The Algerian-Chinese friendship has always been marked by mutual support on vital issues as well as by absolute solidarity during difficult moments, such as natural disasters.

As a natural extension of this traditional friendship, Algeria and China have displayed exemplary solidarity in tackling the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, through multiple actions covering different aspects: diplomatic support and coordination of positions on the international stage, dispatch of medical aid, exchanges of experience and expertise in the fight against the pandemic, the dispatching of medical experts, cooperation in the field of vaccines, maintenance of supply chains, and coordination in the movement of people.

Regarding diplomatic support, Algeria was one of the first countries to express solidarity with China at a high level and welcome its cooperation and rapid coordination with the international community as the virus appeared. It also called for an objective and non-politicized assessment of any issue related to the pandemic. Algeria also supported the holding of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in June 2020, which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. At the summit, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune gave an important speech on Sino-Algerian and Sino-African cooperation and coordination in the fight against the pandemic.

Algeria was among the first countries to grant significant medical assistance to Hubei province with an Algerian plane flying directly to Wuhan in early February 2020.

When the pandemic subsequently spread to Algeria, the Chinese government, companies and other organizations immediately showed their solidarity with Algeria, extending important donations to help the Algerian people fight the virus.

Apart from the donations of medical equipment, the two sides also shared their experiences in the fight against the virus via several videoconferences and through a specialized Chinese medical team to Algeria from Chongqing.

These fruitful medical exchanges are an extension of a long tradition of health cooperation that dates back to 1963 when China sent its first medical mission abroad, from Hubei province, in response to an appeal from the Algerian government. That health mission is still operational and its 27th group is preparing to fly to Algeria very soon as part of the periodic renewal.

At the same time, Algeria and China have taken adequate measures to maintain supply chains and minimize the negative impact of the pandemic on economic and commercial exchanges, whether for anti-pandemic medical supplies or for other types of goods.

Regarding the movement of people, close coordination has facilitated the travel of necessary personnel, including through a "fast track". Although the Algerian airspace has been otherwise closed since March 2020, a weekly flight has been scheduled between Algiers and Beijing since September 2020, in full compliance with preventive and control measures and the requirements of the civil aviation and health authorities in both countries.

As for COVID-19 vaccines, the Algerian authorities have registered and authorized the use in Algeria of three vaccines developed by Chinese laboratories, indicative of the Algerian side's confidence in the efforts of Chinese scientists.

In February, Algeria received a donation of a batch of vaccines from the Chinese government, demonstrating China's willingness to implement its commitment to make vaccines a global public good.

The Algerian and Chinese authorities are also coordinating the implementation of orders placed by Algeria for millions of vaccine doses from Chinese laboratories, which are to be delivered in installments. Discussions are also underway between the Algerian side and the Chinese companies for setting up vaccine manufacturing units in Algeria for the local and regional markets.

The mutual solidarity, support and cooperation between Algeria and China in the face of the novel coronavirus outbreak have further strengthened the solid foundations of their strategic partnership, especially with the implementation of the second five-year plan for their strategic partnership for the period 2021-25, as well as their joint efforts to promote the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, which Algeria officially joined in September 2018.

The prospects of fruitful cooperation between Algeria and China are ambitious and promising for the benefit of the two countries and the two friendly peoples thanks to the concerted efforts and the mobilization of the various institutions of the two countries.

In the economic field, major projects will be launched in Algeria this year in collaboration with Chinese partners, such as the exploitation of the Ghar-Djebilet iron deposit, the exploitation of phosphate in the east of the country and the deep water port project in El Hamdania.

The author is Algeria's ambassador to China. 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.