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Twenty Years in the Same Boat, China-Africa Cooperation Bears Fruit


(H.E. Ren Yisheng, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Liberia )

In October this year, China and Africa have ushered in an important moment - the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). At the turn of the century 20 years ago, China and African friendly countries sought to develop together, meet challenges together, and jointly established the FOCAC. From the proposal and establishment of the forum and the preparation and operation of each meeting, from the declaration and action plan to the implementation of various measures, the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits has always been run through. Each stage reflects the characteristics of mutual respect and equality, cooperation and mutual benefit between China and Africa. In the past 20 years, the FOCAC has become an important platform for China-Africa collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for pragmatic cooperation. It has promoted the continuous development of China-Africa relations, has become a model of multilateralism and mutual benefit, and is also an important banner of South-South cooperation.

Over the past two decades since the establishment of the FOCAC, China-Africa cooperation has continuously made new breakthroughs and scored remarkable achievements. The forum has successfully held three summits and seven ministerial meetings, and introduced a package of action plans every three years, and launched a series of major measures to deepen pragmatic cooperation with Africa and support the development of Africa, such as the "Eight Major Actions" and "Ten Major Cooperation Plans", which has been effectively implemented with the joint efforts of China and Africa. China-Africa relations have been upgraded from a new type of partnership to a comprehensive strategic partnership, and strategic mutual trust has been continuously deepened. In 2013, H.E.President Xi Jinping chose Africa for his first visit after assuming the presidency. So far, he has visited Africa 4 times. The Chinese Foreign Minister has chosen African countries for his first visit every year for 30 consecutive years, which is unique in the history of international exchanges, which highlights the great importance China attaches to the development of China-Africa relations. At the 2018 Beijing Summit, H.E.President Xi Jinping comprehensively elaborated on the concept of sincerity, real result, amity and good faith and the outlook of righteousness and benefits, and proposed to jointly build a China-Africa community with a shared future of joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, cultural prosperity, common security, man and nature harmony, clarifying the direction for the future development of China-Africa relations.

China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has achieved fruitful results. Under the guidance of the forum’s pragmatic cooperation measures, a group of creative policy tools emerged and became a resounding brand of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, including the Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center, the China-Africa Development Fund, the China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation Fund, the Special Fund for Import Trade Financing from Africa, and the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. In recent years, the two sides have also carried out useful attempts in the construction of free trade zones, integration of investment, construction and operation, and tripartite cooperation, and achieved positive results. In 2019, China-Africa trade volume exceeded US$200 billion, which is 20 times that of 2000. The stock of China’s direct investment in Africa is US$49.1 billion, 100 times that of 2000. China has become Africa’s largest trading partner country for 11 consecutive years, with a stock of direct investment in Africa reaching 110 billion U.S. dollars. More than 3,700 Chinese companies have invested in Africa. China has contributed more than 20% to Africa’s economic growth for many years and provided a strong impetus for the sustained growth of the African economy. China has made remarkable achievements in assisting Africa’s infrastructure construction. It has built railways and highways with a mileage of more than 6,000 kilometers, built nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large-scale power facilities, which has facilitated transportation in Africa, promoted the process of African industrialization, and enhanced Africa's capacity for independent development. 44 African countries, including Liberia, and the African Union Commission signed the “Belt and Road” cooperation document with China, and China-Africa’s joint construction of the “Belt and Road” is gaining momentum.

China-Africa cultural exchanges continue to deepen. So far, China has assisted in the construction of more than 130 medical facilities, 45 gymnasiums, and more than 170 schools. In the past five years, it has trained more than 200,000 African talents of various types from all walks of life, promoting the vital interests and well-being of the African people. China has provided a total of about 120,000 government scholarships to African countries, and jointly established 61 Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms in 46 countries in Africa. Africa has set off an upsurge of Chinese language learning, and many African students regard China as the number one destination for studying abroad. China dispatched 21,000 medical team members to 48 African countries and treated about 220 million African patients. The two sides established 150 pairs of sister cities. Africa's unique cultural landscape is also attracting more and more Chinese tourists. The public opinion foundation of China-Africa friendship has been consolidated.

China-Africa peace and security cooperation has deepened. China and Africa support each other on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns. China and Africa join hands in defending multilateralism, opposing unilateralism and protectionism, resolutely safeguarding the international order and international system with the United Nations at the core, and resolutely safeguarding the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other basic norms of international relations, and vigorously safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and the overall interests of the international community.

Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends. When the international financial crisis erupted in 2008, instead of reducing its aid to Africa, China increased its investment in Africa against the trend. In 2014, when the Ebola epidemic broke out in West Africa, Chinese medical staff went retrograde without fear of difficulties and dangers. The COVID-19 epidemic has swept the world this year, China and Africa once again persist in solidarity and mutual assistance. When China suffered from the epidemic earlier this year, more than 50 African leaders called or issued statements to express their sympathy and support to China. China also pays constant attention to the epidemic in Africa and quickly extended a helping hand. As of the beginning of September this year, the Chinese government has shipped more than 400 tons of emergency anti-epidemic materials to 53 African countries and the African Union, and assisted 21 African countries in signing procurement contracts of more than US$54 million with China. China has also dispatched medical expert teams to 13 African countries, and 46 hospitals in 42 African countries have initially confirmed their participation in China-Africa paired hospital cooperation. China has signed an implementation agreement with the African Union for the construction of the headquarters of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ensure that construction starts within the year. H.E. President Xi Jinping also announced the cancellation of interest-free loans to relevant African countries due at the end of 2020 under the framework of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 and the FOCAC, stating that “China is willing to work with the international community to increase support for African countries that have suffered severe economic losses, extend the debt repayment period, and help them tide over the difficulties.”

Since the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2003, China-Liberia relations have maintained a good momentum and political mutual trust has been continuously enhanced. In September 2018, H.E. President George Manneh Weah attended the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC and met with H.E. President Xi Jinping. The two heads of state reached important consensus on further strengthening the China-Liberia comprehensive cooperative partnership. In May 2019, Hon.Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill visited China and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the “Belt and Road” initiative on behalf of the Liberian government. The two sides have achieved fruitful results in economic and trade exchanges, cultural exchanges, military exchanges and other fields. Roads, office buildings, airports, as well as health, education, sports, information, and agriculture projects have steadily advanced, making positive contributions to the economic and social development of Liberia. Facing the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic this year, China and Libya have supported each other and overcome the difficulties together, demonstrating the strong determination of the two countries to fight the epidemic together and the brotherhood of sharing weal and woe.

China and Africa are now standing at a new starting point and looking forward to a new chapter. Being good friends, good partners, and good brothers who share the same destiny and the same goals, China and Africa are also important forces that promote world peace and development. In the face of major changes in the world unseen in a century, China and Africa need to strengthen cooperation to jointly respond to various risks and challenges, strengthen mutual support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, and jointly promote the democratization of international relations. By unswervingly following the path of multilateralism, promoting the evolution of the global governance system in a direction that conforms to the common interests of developing countries, China and Africa will together make greater contributions to the cause of China-Africa friendship and the cause of world justice.

China will continue to uphold the concept of sincerity, real result, amity and good faith and the outlook of righteousness and benefits, work in solidarity with Africa to further consolidate and strengthen the mechanism of the FOCAC, work together to push the comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level, build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future, promote the deepening and solidification of the joint construction of the “Belt and Road”, lead the high-quality development of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, benefit the people of China and Africa, and jointly write a new chapter of the FOCAC in the new era.

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