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Who’s Who in China’s COVID-19 Diplomacy?

A visiting Chinese COVID-19 medical team posing with Jean-Jacques Bouya, the Republic of Congo's Minister of Regional Planning, Equipment and Major Works at the international airport in Brazzaville. Photo via @chinaembcongobz.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a flurry of Chinese efforts to supply medical assistance around the world, including in Africa. In late March 2020, airports in Shanghai, Beijing, and other major Chinese cities turned from international business and tourism hubs to centers for the dispatch of medical equipment, personnel, and supplies.

As many observers have pointed out, this “COVID-diplomacy” represents an opportunity for China to fill the global leadership gap left by the United States. In Africa in particular, China’s pandemic response merely accelerates a geopolitical trend that was already gathering steam, and is emblematic of a wider shift to a more proactive and assertive foreign policy under President Xi Jinping.

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