Johannesburg Summit: Transformation and Upgrading of China-Africa Cooperation

By H.E. Dr Liu Xianfa

On 4-5 December this year, the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in South Africa. As the second FOCAC Summit after the 2006 Beijing Summit and the fist ever FOCAC Summit to be held on the African continent, the Johannesburg Summit will be a grand meeting with historic significances. Centering on the theme of “Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development”, State leaders from both China and Africa will gather in South Africa to jointly discuss plans of fundamental importance and set up major cooperative measures, so as to strengthen the linkage of China-Africa development strategies and industrial capacity cooperation, accelerate Africa’s independent sustainable development, and demonstrate the power of unity among developing countries.

I. Ever since the inception of FOCAC in 2000, China-Africa relations have been enjoying rapid and in-depth progress with fruitful achievements made in various fields between the two sides.

Over the last 15 years, China-Africa Political mutual trust has grown significantly. Both sides understand and support each other on matters involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, thus upholding the common interests of China, Africa and the developing world. Both sides learn from each other’s experiences on governance and development, having achieved new results in common pursuit of the path of sustainable development.

Over the last 15 years, China-Africa practical cooperation has progressed in leaps and bounds, delivering tangible benefits to both the Chinese and African people. Statistics show that in 2014, trade between China and Africa exceeded US$ 220 billion and China’s investment stock in Africa surpassed US$ 30 billion, an increase of 22 and 60 times respectively over the figures in 2000 when FOCAC was just established. Moreover, the share of China-Africa trade in Africa’s total foreign trade has increased from 3.8% to 20.5%. The Chinese companies have invested in Africa in various fields such as finance, telecommunication, energy, manufacturing, agriculture and so on, having directly created more than 100,000 local jobs. By September 2015, 5675 kilometers of railways and 4506.9 kilometers of roads have been either built or under construction in Africa with Chinese assistance or financing, which has greatly facilitated people-to-people exchanges in Africa. Through win-win cooperation, the Chinese companies have brought funds and skills to Africa, reduced the costs of construction, and helped Africa catch up with the paces of economic globalization.

Over the last 15 years, China has been actively engaging, supporting and maintaining Africa’s peace and security affairs. Among the 5 Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China is the one having dispatched the largest number of peace-keeping staff to Africa. Up to now, China has participated in 16 UN peace-keeping actions in Africa, and dispatched peace-keeping staff totaling over 30,000. Since the Chinese Navy kicked off its anti-pirate actions in Gulf of Aden and Somali seas, it has successfully escorted over 6000 Chinese and foreign ships. By carrying out the “Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security” under the framework of FOCAC, China has been raising its own proposals on South Sudan etc, actively pursuing the solutions for hot issues in Africa.

Over the last 15 years, China has been providing as much developmental assistance as it can to help African countries build schools and hospitals and train personnel and students. By September 2015, More than 200 schools of various kinds have been established with Chinese assistance or financing, among which 143 were built through assistance. In 2014, the Chinese government provided Africa with over 7800 government scholarships and held over 100 training programs for Africa. China also took the lead in helping Africa fighting the epidemic of Ebola virus and promoted cooperation in research of new anti-malarial medicines, having made important contribution to relieving pains and saving lives of the African people.

II. FOCAC has become an important platform for China-Africa cooperation, major brand for South-South Cooperation and significant practice for building up the community of common destiny for all mankind.

Over the last 15 years, no matter how the international climate and the respective conditions of both China and Africa changed, what have remained unchanged are the China-Africa brotherhood sharing weal and woe, the mutual cooperation featuring win-win solutions and common development, and Africa’s fundamental status in China’s foreign policies.

Adhering to the guidelines of “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith” and the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests proposed by Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping, China will promote China-Africa comprehensive cooperation in an all-round way. China is the largest developing country while Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. In the past, at present or in the future, development has always been the most important common task both China and Africa are faced with. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “One tree does not make a forest.” Everybody feels good, which is really good. The development of China will promote the independent sustainable progress of Africa’s economy and vice versa.

China has never avoided the problems popping up in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, and has insisted that legal rights must be safeguarded while illegal behaviors must not be tolerated. Regarding China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation, China will never repeat the rapacious colonial way of “taking without giving”, and will never pursue development at the cost of the long-term interests and the environment of the African countries, what we pursue is mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. China is willing to work together with all the African countries with our advantages fully brought into play and cooperation effectively upgraded.

China welcomes all countries in the world to take part in the cooperation with Africa, and support Africa in building up diversified partnership. China proposes that the international community respects Africa when conducting cooperation with Africa, and is willing to jointly discuss conducting tripartite cooperation with the international community under the principle of “raised, agreed and led by Africa”.

In a nutshell, China-Africa cooperation features equality, mutual trust, mutual complementarity, common development, sustainable growth and win-win results, offering a model for South-South cooperation and the new-type international relations.

III. 15 years have passed and we are standing at a new starting point. Looking into the future, China and Africa are each other’s opportunity and need each other for cooperation and development. China-Africa collaboration in development strategies faces a historic opportunity.

As the largest emerging economy in the world, China’s economic development has entered the phase of the new normal. In recent years, China has actively tackled the difficulties and challenges brought by the slowdown of global economic growth and increased downward pressure on the world economy. China’s economy has been operating within a proper range and maintaining stable and fairly rapid growth. At present, China’s economy is experiencing comprehensive and in-depth reforms and facing transformation and upgrading, but China’s positive economic fundamentals and long-term trajectory remain unchanged. What also remain unchanged are the basic fact that China economic has strong resilient, great potential, and ample room for maneuver. The strong support and conditions favorable for continued growth has not changed. And the forward movements of the country’s economic restructuring and upgrading have not changed.

The 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee put forth the 13th Five-year strategic plan, proposing the development concept of “innovation, coordination, green, open and share”. This conforms to the international development agenda, and once again demonstrates that China is devoted to advancing reform and opening up. This will bring not just more dividend to the development of the Chinese economy, but also more opportunity for the prosperity of Africa and the world.

Regarding economy, China and Africa both have special features of their own and are highly mutually complementary. China has mature and applicative technology and equipment and relatively abundant capital, while Africa is blessed with remarkable advantages of markets, labor power and natural resources. Both China and Africa are lands of great vitality. Especially in the past decade, Africa’s growth has drawn the attention of the international community. China and Africa have been rising hand in hand with the Chinese Dream and the African Dream taking off side by side. In the first half of this year, 20% of Africa’s economic growth came from China. It is estimated that in the next five years, China will import US$ 10 trillion of goods and invest over US$ 500 billion overseas, and outbound visits made by Chinese people will exceed 500 million. This will bring enormous business opportunities to the world, African countries included.

The FOCOC Johannesburg Summit will come up with new measures for China-Africa cooperation. China will fully leverage the advantages of China-Africa political mutual trust and economic complementarity, and help Africa break the two development bottlenecks of underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of human resources. China is willing to establish three development systems with Africa, including processing and manufacturing industry, food security, and public health precaution, to solve such three livelihood issues as employment, food and health. China will also strengthen cooperation in the five key areas of industrialization, agriculture modernization, healthcare, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and peace and security.

In the new era, Africa is the continent of hope, development and cooperation. China and Africa have always been a community of common destiny, sharing similar historical bitter experiences and common development tasks. The ancient Chinese navigation Zheng He visited the east coast of Africa many times during his voyages to the western oceans, having brought peace and friendship. The Chinese and African people fought colonialism and foreign invasions shoulder by shoulder. In the 1970s, the African brothers and sisters celebrated China’s return to the United Nations. There are all memorable stories between China and Africa. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Chinese and African people jointly built the Tanzam Railway, which has been regarded as a railway of China-Africa friendship. Over 40 years have passed and today, China and Kenya are cooperating on constructing the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, which will definitely become another railway of China-Kenya cooperation. We wish and believe that through our joint efforts, The FOCOC Johannesburg Summit will surely be a great success, guiding the future development of China-Africa cooperation and unity and playing the main melody for China-Africa win-win cooperation and common progress.

H.E. Dr Liu Xianfa, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya

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