THE long awaited sixth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), to be held from 4 -5 December 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been upgraded to a summit at the request of many African countries and co-sponsored by the Chinese and South African governments.
This is the second summit since the founding of the FOCAC, and the first one to be held on the African continent. It is expected that Chinese President Xi Jinping, African heads of state and government, representatives from regional and international organizations will participate in the meeting. They will sit together to discuss major plans, draw and adopt a new blueprint or new measures for China-Africa cooperation, and to show the world the unity and strength of developing countries. This summit will surely be a new milestone of historic significance for the development of future China-Africa relations and contribute to the fulfillment of both the “Chinese Dream” and the “African Dream”.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the FOCAC that was formally established in Beijing in October 2000 under the joint initiative of China and Africa, with the purposes for further strengthening friendly cooperation between the two parties under the new circumstances, jointly meeting the challenges of economic globalization and seeking common development. Since then, it has become an important platform of China-Africa collective dialogue and an effective mechanism of pragmatic cooperation, and also a standard-bearer for the cooperation between the international community and Africa.
In the past 15 years, the pragmatic China-Africa cooperation has made great progress, bringing tangible benefits to the Chinese and African peoples. According to the statistics in 2014, China-Africa trade exceeded 220 billion US Dollar and China’s total investment in Africa was more than 30 billion US Dollar, an increase of 22 and 60 times respectively over the figures in 2000 when FOCAC was just established. The share of China-Africa trade in Africa’s total foreign trade has increased from 3.82 percent to 20.5 percent. Since 2009, China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for six consecutive years. Moreover, by September 2015, over 5 675 kilometers of railways and 4 506 kilometers of highways have been built or under construction in Africa with Chinese aid or financing. Likewise, a massive number of other infrastructure and public utilities, such as airports, wharf, power station, stadium, parliament building and convention center, etc have been constructed, and more than 200 schools, 68 hospitals, 30 anti-malaria centers and 23 agricultural demonstration centers have been built, training thousands of of local students and technical personnel in related fields. Besides, great efforts have been made to help improve human resources.Take the year 2014 for instance, the Chinese government provided African countries with more than 7 000 government scholarships and held over 100 multilateral and bilateral technical and management training programmes or senior officials workshops for Africa.
This year’s AU summit passed the Agenda 2063 and its First Ten Year Implementation Plan. Africa is striding to a new development phase. Lesotho has its own National Strategic Development Plan and Vision 2020, while China has “Two Centenary Goals” and the 13th Five-Year Plan starting from next year. China and Africa have common and consistent direction of development. The theme of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit is “China and Africa Progress together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development”. Having gone through thick and thin together, China and Africa are always a community of common destiny and common interests. The two sides forged profound friendship in the fight for national independence and liberation in history. Over 40 years ago, China dispatched more than 50 000 people to help build the Tanzania-Zambia railway despite its own economic difficulties. Last year, China took the lead and made a quick response to fight the outbreak of Ebola epidemic in western Africa and coped with the challenge hand-in-hand with African countries, which demonstrated again China is a true and reliable friend of Africa. African people also offered support and assistance to the Chinese people in times of adversity, such as Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, etc. Today, nothing could stop the two sides from coming more closely to pursue common development and win-win result.
Through more than three decades of reform, opening up and rapid growth, China has become the world’s second largest economy and developed a large number of competitive industries and accumulated strong production capacities. On the one hand, China nowadays is pushing forward economic structural adjustment and industrial transformation. More and more Chinese competitive industries are reaching out to the outside world. On the other hand, African countries are striving for speeding up their industrialization and modernization processes, and for achieving economic independence, self-reliance and sustainable development. Africa is blessed with abundant natural and human resources and enjoys huge market and development potential. These put the two sides in a better position to work together to achieve mutually beneficial and win-win results and common development on the mutually complementary basis. Besides, China not only has the ability to be Africa’s most ideal cooperative partner but more importantly has the strong political will to help and support Africa in achieving economic independence, self-reliance and sustainable development. China always attaches great importance to developing relations with Africa on the basis of mutual respect, treating each other on an equal footing and with no political conditions attached. President Xi chose Africa for his first overseas visit upon assuming presidency in 2013, where he put forward the principles of “Sincerity, Real Results, Affinity and Good Faith” to guide China’s relations with Africa, emphasizing close integration of the efforts to help Africa achieve economic development with China’s own development and achieve win-win cooperation and common development. When cooperating with Africa, China doesn’t seek unilateral profits but takes a right approach to justice and interests by putting justice before interests. As the saying goes that “A single flower is not spring.” All countries should be participants, contributors and beneficiaries of global development.
China proposes to build a new model of international relations with win-win cooperation. The achievement of China-Africa’s peaceful and win-win development will not only benefit our peoples but also help to promote a more balanced, inclusive and sustainable development world. At the UN summit this year, President Xi Jinping announced a series of new initiatives and measures to help Africa strengthen peacekeeping capacity building and sustainable development in the next five years. For example, China promised to provide 100 million US Dollar of free military assistance to the African Union to support the establishment of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. China will set up the South-South cooperation assistance fund, with initial contribution of 2 billion US Dollar, to support other developing countries, including African countries to implement their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China will also provide the developing countries with “Six 100s” projects, which are 100 poverty reduction programs, 100 agricultural cooperation projects, 100 trade promotion and aid programs, 100 environmental protection and climate change programs, 100 hospitals and clinics, and 100 schools and vocational training centers.
China-Africa cooperation has a bright future. The FOCAC Johannesburg Summit provides such a good opportunity to enhance bilateral cooperation and will have great and far-reaching significance for boosting comprehensive transformation and upgrading of China-Africa relations. China is committed to help Africa break the two development bottlenecks of underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of human resources, to focus on the resolution of food, employment and health, and build three systems on self-reliance industrialization, food security, public health and epidemic prevention. China and Africa should seize this rare historical opportunity of the Summit, fully leverage their advantages of political mutual trust and economic complementarity and step up mutually beneficial cooperation in the five priority areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, health, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security. I am convinced that the upcoming summit, with its new plans, new measures and new momentum for China-Africa cooperation, will also send to the rest of the world a strong message of China and Africa working together for win-win cooperation and common development and usher in a new prospect of development for the peoples in China, Africa and beyond. Now China, in the spirit of equal-footing consultation and joint preparation for the Summit, stands ready to work with South Africa and the other 50 FOCAC members on the African side to make the Johannesburg Summit a historic gathering that will strengthen China-Africa unity and push China-Africa cooperation to a new height, thus writing a new chapter for China-Africa relations.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili will be leading a high level Lesotho delegation to the Summit, and I believe that Lesotho will surely benefit a lot from the Summit and the cooperation and China-Lesotho relations will be further increased from strength to strength.
Finally, I wish the summit a great success!
*Hu Dingxian is the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Lesotho.