Nearly a month ago, the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully convened in Beijing. During this conference, China and African countries held deep discussions on how to further enhance the New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership under the theme of “Build on past achievements and open up new prospects”.
Two outcome documents were also issued. At the opening ceremony of the conference, the Chinese President, H.E. Hu Jintao, announced that China will take measures in five priority areas to support the cause of peace and development in Africa with a credit line of US$ 20 billion.
At the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2006, China and Africa decided to establish a New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation, and cultural exchanges for mutual learning.
In my opinion, the New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership has demonstrated strong vitality of the times in the following ways:
First, the long-term friendship between China and Africa has gone deeper and has also become more profound. The traditional friendship between China and Africa, featuring sincere and friendly relations, equal treatment, mutual support, and common development, has guided the all-round, constant and in-depth development of China-Africa relations for over fifty years.
In recent years, the relations between China and African countries, and between China and African regional organizations, have developed into a new level. The two sides maintained frequent exchanges of high-level visits, deepened mutual understanding and rendered support on core interests and major concerns, and strengthened the practical cooperation with fruitful results in various fields, which have brought great tangible benefits to the peoples of both China and Africa.
Over the past two years since I came to work in Kenya, I have had a very strong feeling that the China-Africa friendship has been deep-rooted, the hearts of the two peoples are getting closer, and the common interests are increasing significantly. China-Africa relations can be regarded as the most solid and most cordial bilateral ties in the current international relations.
Second, the links on the economic and trade relations between China and Africa have become much stronger. The total trade volume between China and Africa hit a record high of 166.3 billion US dollars in 2011, compared to only 10 billion in 2000.
By April this year, China’s total direct investment in Africa reached 15.3 billion US dollars, about 30 times the figure 10 years ago. More than 2000 Chinese enterprises have their investments or businesses in 50 African countries.
The eight measures for practical cooperation announced at the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC in 2006 and eight additional measures announced at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC in 2009 have been effectively implemented, and have played an important role in advancing the economic and social development of African countries.
Both the quality and quantity of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation reached a higher stage of development. The two sides have formed an inseparable win-win cooperation pattern of increased interdependence and closer integration of mutual interests.
Third, the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa have become increasingly dynamic. The past years have witnessed closer cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa at a higher level and with a broader scope, a more active atmosphere and a more fruitful result.
The two sides have successfully held 5 Cultures in Focus events, 2 People’s Forum and 2 Young Leaders Forum. Under China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan, 28 research projects have been carried out, and 14 international seminars have been held. Today’s seminar is just one of them.
These mechanisms and platforms have enhanced the understandings between the Chinese people and the African people from all walks of life, who have fostered a more friendly relationship like brothers and sisters.
Besides, each year over 5000 African students receive Chinese government scholarships, over 700,000 Chinese tourists travel to Africa, while over 400,000 African tourists travel to China. Every week there are more than 20 regular flights between China and Africa. The social base of China-Africa relations has been solidified, and more momentum has been gathered.
Fourth, the coordination in international affairs between China and Africa has been much closer. The two sides worked closely on the major international issues like United Nations reform, climate change, WTO Doha Round negotiations, etc., with the aim of upholding the common interests of developing countries and establishing the new international political and economic order.
China firmly holds that priority should be given to increasing the representation of African countries in the UN agencies. China has intensified its engagement in Africa’s peace and security affairs, increased the number of Chinese peace-keepers to Africa, and actively carried out escort missions on combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.
It has further demonstrated the strategic significance of the cooperation between China and Africa in the international affairs and global issues.
(The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya)