South Sudan And China Sign 5 Year Deal For Medical Support

Chinese medical team in South Sudan africans on china
Credit: Global Times

Amid a global pandemic that has exposed the inefficiencies in the health sector of many countries, it is appropriate now that partnerships and preparations going forward are strengthened and enhanced in this area. 

In a new development, South Sudan has entered into a five-year health agreement with China. The deal, according to Ecofin Agency, allows China to deploy its medical teams in the African nation over the period from 2021 to 2026. This move paves the way for strengthened cooperation between China’s Anhui Medical University and South Sudan’s Juba Teaching Hospital through knowledge sharing and capacity reinforcement, Ecofin Agency reported. 

China says it has sent eight medical teams to South Sudan to provide free medical services to the population and that its health care workers were called in to help Juba cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hua Ning, China’s Ambassador to South Sudan, said, “we have always placed health care at the top of the agenda for cooperation between South Sudan and China…We also hope that with the support of China and other members of the international community, the health sector here will continue to develop and benefit the people.”

China-South Sudan Relations And The Controversies

As Africa’s youngest country, South Sudan gained independence in 2011. Since then, its relations with China have been under the spotlight in the general Africa-China cooperation narrative. Faced with numerous security and economic challenges, South Sudan has inked to China for assistance to support its socio-economic development. 

In 2019, 163 Chinese peacekeeping troops arrived in South Sudan for a peacekeeping mission. The team was the first group of a 331-strong battalion sent by China for the mission. 

Commenting on the arrival of the troops that year, China’s Ambassador to Juba, Hua Ning, said, “today we are very pleased to receive the first engineering group and the medical team from the China Army. Everyone knows that the South Sudan peace process is entering a very critical chapter. The new transitional government is going to be formed in November. So it is very important and timely for the Chinese peacekeeping troops to come to South Sudan.”

Apart from the humanitarian aid, in the form of food items among others, Beijing has entered into a series of resource-to-infrastructural partnerships with Juba. Recently, China and South Sudan signed a deal for the renovation of the Jur River Bridge, linking Juba to the Bahr el Ghazal region and its northern neighbor Sudan.

But some experts say China’s close ties with the young African country is part of a larger scheme to retain its substantial petroleum investment in South Sudan to take advantage of current oil production with the assumption that better days will come. When that happens, Chinese companies will be well placed to develop new oil fields in the country. This has been described as part of China’s long-term strategy with South Sudan even if it means tolerating short-term losses.

“Few countries would look at South Sudan as an ideal location for a business venture, but China has built much of its reputation as a world power on an economic philosophy of risk-taking,” says Austin Bodetti in an article published in The Diplomat

Can China’s relations with South Sudan help improve the Country’s security situation and put it on a sound footing for socio-economic development? How can Juba ensure that cooperation agreements with Beijing benefit its citizens?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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