China faces tremendous international scrutiny concerning the initial mismanagement and lack of transparency surrounding its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included efforts to stifle dissent. If the comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 confirms China as the source as is being widely portrayed, the economic and socio-political fallout for Beijing could be severe. It would therefore be critical for China that it gets ahead of the global war of narratives that will naturally ensue. President Xi’s address at the 73rd World Health Assembly where he focused specifically on Africa, is a step in that direction. This article examines the role of African countries in this narrative building exercise. Furthermore, it analyses the changing nature of African solidarity to China and discusses how African countries have gained from this relationship. It also underscores how COVID-19 threatens this dynamic and how implicit support from African nations cannot be presumed anymore. The pushback surrounding China’s COVID-19 overtures in the continent brings to the fore anti-Chinese sentiments that have been simmering for a while and have now snapped the African agency into action.
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