- The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC” held in the Senegalese capital, “Dakar”, reflects the challenges faced by the two parties after the spread of the conditions of the Corona pandemic “Covid-19”.
- The two sides will have to work out a future plan for cooperation between them in the next stage, to lay solid foundations for a new and greater development of the China-Africa relations post (Covid-19) pandemic.
- The bilateral trade volume between China and Africa has increased from 87.37 billion yuan ($13.69 billion) in 2000 to 1.3 trillion yuan in 2020, an average annual increase of 14.5 percent.
- China is promoting cooperation with Africa in social fields such as poverty reduction, health, education, science and technology, environmental protection, climate change, and exchanges among people.
The conditions of convening (the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC”) on November 29-30, 2021, in the Senegalese capital, “Dakar”, reflect the challenges faced by the two parties after the spread of the conditions of the Corona pandemic “Covid-19”. We find here that the “Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC” has inaugurated in October 2000 in a move that is in line with the requirements of the times, and reflects the common desire of the Chinese and African peoples to achieve peace, development, and cooperation under the new circumstances.
Over the course of more than 21 years, since the establishment of this forum, the cooperation mechanism between the Chinese and African parties has continuously developed and made important achievements. This eighth ministerial meeting is held to review all opportunities for China-Africa cooperation, to open new horizons for the China-Africa strategic partnership, and to emphasize the establishment of the (China-Africa Free Trade Area). The two sides will have to work out a future plan for cooperation between them in the next stage, to lay solid foundations for a new and greater development of China-Africa relations post (Covid-19) pandemic
The world is going through a profound change of a scale unseen in a century. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting human society profoundly. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is of great significance to summarize the achievements of China-Africa cooperation, plan the future of China-Africa relations, work together to defeat COVID-19, and build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future.
At the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech via video link, speaking highly of FOCAC’s remarkable achievements. He pointed out that China and Africa should further strengthen cooperation in the future, especially in unswervingly deepening China-Africa traditional friendship, promoting China-Africa cooperation, and safeguarding China-Africa common interests.
“The new era”: China-Africa relations
On November 26, the State Council Information Office issued a white paper titled “China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals.” This is the first white paper issued by the Chinese government to comprehensively introduce China-Africa cooperation, also the first white paper to introduce the achievements of China’s cooperation with a region in the world since the 18th CPC National Congress. The document laid out the principles China aims to keep in line with when engaging with African countries – “the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principles of pursuing the greater good and shared interests.“
China’s approach to Africa adheres to traditional Chinese philosophy – “Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you.”
The white paper focuses on the achievements of China-Africa cooperation in various fields, including mutual political trust, rapidly expanding economic cooperation, growing cooperation on social development, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and cooperation on peace and security.
The launch of the Sino-African development initiatives for cooperation within the framework of the “FOCAC Forum on China-Africa Cooperation” comes within the framework of the strategy of “South-South” cooperation efforts, as exemplary cooperation between the Sino-African parties, especially with (the prominent role of Chinese banks and companies in financing and building power stations, railways, highways, and ports, as well as communications infrastructure, fiber-optic cables and smart cities in African countries), and if these Chinese initiatives continue to implement their goals, China will be able to stimulate global and then African economic growth China will meet the needs of developing countries for the long term.
At present, China-Africa relations are in their best period in history. The achievements of China-Africa cooperation have improved Africa’s economic and social development conditions and promoted the common development of China and Africa. The white paper speaks with facts, data, and examples, and tells the real story of China-Africa cooperation, which is conducive to enhancing the international community’s understanding of China-Africa cooperation and promoting international cooperation with Africa.
President Xi has visited Africa four times since 2013, proving the great importance China attaches to Africa in its foreign policy. African leaders have also visited China more frequently. The head-of-state diplomacy and high-level exchanges have provided strong political guidance for the development of China-Africa relations.
China and Africa have seen economic and trade cooperation expanding rapidly in scale and extent. The 10 major cooperation plans and the eight major initiatives adopted at the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit raised China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level.
China and African countries have boosted economic ties despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising bilateral trade volume reflects the enthusiasm of China-Africa trade exchanges. China-Africa trade reached $185.2 billion between January and September of this year, up 38.2 percent year on year, establishing a new record for the period.
China’s direct investment in Africa registered $2.59 billion in the first nine months of the year, exceeding the level of the same period in 2019 before the epidemic, data from China’s Ministry of Commerce showed. The bilateral trade volume between China and Africa has increased from 87.37 billion yuan ($13.69 billion) in 2000 to 1.3 trillion yuan in 2020, an average annual increase of 14.5 percent, customs data showed.
The bilateral trade volume of China’s private enterprises with Africa has increased from 4.76 billion yuan in 2000 to 783 billion yuan in 2020, an average annual increase of 29.1 percent. The proportion of private enterprises in China-Africa bilateral trade has increased from 5.4 percent to 60.2 percent.
The Chinese share of African exports exceeded 21 percent in 2020, according to a white paper detailing China-Africa cooperation released last week.
Embracing exchange in culture, science, and technology
China is promoting cooperation with Africa in social fields such as poverty reduction, health, education, science and technology, environmental protection, climate change, and exchanges among people. Through strengthening exchanges, providing assistance, and sharing experience, China is helping African countries to improve their comprehensive social development, which then provides the internal impetus for their economic growth.
China and African countries have embraced further exchanges in culture, media, science, and technology, and think tanks, and facilitated dialogues. These efforts have promoted people-to-people bonds and laid solid foundations for further developments.
China and African countries continue to expand exchanges and hold dialogues in the field of peace and security. China has played a unique and constructive role in Africa’s peace and security endeavors.
Both China and Africa uphold multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, and support the UN-centered world order, and follow the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China-Africa cooperation on global issues such as UN reform, fighting climate change, and promoting free trade can help boost North-South and South-South cooperation, improve global governance.
Confronted by COVID-19, China and Africa have withstood a severe challenge, helping each other and fighting side by side to defeat the pandemic through solidarity and cooperation. During the toughest times in China’s fight against the epidemic, African countries and the African Union rendered strong support and assistance to China through various means. After COVID-19 struck Africa, China immediately offered humanitarian assistance, the largest such program in scale and the most difficult to implement since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 and the complicated and changeable international situation, the common development tasks, highly consistent development strategies, and win-win cooperation development path have brought the Chinese and African peoples closer together. China-Africa friendly cooperation still faces important historical opportunities and bright prospects. In the future, China-Africa cooperation will only strengthen, not weaken; will only expand, not shrink; and will only upgrade, not downgrade.
As President Xi said at the FOCAC summit in 2018, “the FOCAC was established to answer the call of the times. Since then, it has grown strong and prospered as China-Africa cooperation continues to flourish. It has become a distinct symbol in international cooperation with Africa and in South-South cooperation.”
While China is moving toward realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, Africa has been promoting its Agenda 2063, an ambitious blueprint for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse. China and Africa are expected to adopt similar development strategies, and the ongoing FOCAC conference in Dakar is likely to set a new agenda to achieve win-win results and help build a China-Africa community with a shared future.
Below is the full text of the Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping :
Uphold the Tradition of Always Standing Together And Jointly Build a China-Africa Community With a Shared Future in the New Era
Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
At the Opening Ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation
29 November 2021
Your Excellency President Macky Sall, Distinguished Colleagues, Dear Guests, and Friends.
It is such a pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Let me first express sincere appreciation to President Sall and the government of Senegal for their excellent organization, and extend a warm welcome to the colleagues and guests attending the Conference.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. Over the past 65 years, China and Africa have forged unbreakable fraternity in our struggle against imperialism and colonialism and embarked on a distinct path of cooperation in our journey toward development and revitalization. Together, we have written a splendid chapter of mutual assistance amidst complex changes and set a shining example for building a new type of international relations.
Why do China and Africa have such a close relationship and so deep a bond of friendship? The key lies in an everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation forged between the two sides, which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness. This truly captures the relations of China and Africa working together in good and hard times over the past decades, and provides a source of strength for the continuous growth of China-Africa friendly relations.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations. Here, let me express sincere appreciation to the many African friends who supported China back then. Let me also make it solemnly clear that China will never forget the profound friendship of African countries and will remain guided by the principle of sincerity, real results, amity, and good faith, and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests. China will work together with African friends to promote and carry forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation from generation to generation.
At the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, I proposed that we build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The proposal was unanimously endorsed by African leaders. Over the past three years and more, China and Africa have worked together to fully implement the eight major initiatives and other outcomes of the Beijing Summit and completed a large number of priority cooperation projects. China-Africa trade and China’s investment in Africa have been on a steady rise. Almost all African members of FOCAC have joined the big family of Belt and Road cooperation. All these have injected strong impetus into the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. As we stand at the historic starting point of building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, I wish to make the following four proposals:
First, fighting COVID-19 with solidarity. We need to put people and their lives first, be guided by science, support waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, and truly ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa to bridge the immunization gap.
Second, deepening practical cooperation. We need to open up new prospects for China-Africa cooperation, expand trade and investment, share experience on poverty reduction, strengthen cooperation on the digital economy, and promote entrepreneurship by young Africans and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). At the UN General Assembly this year, I put forward the Global Development Initiative, which dovetails with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We welcome the active support and participation of African countries.
Third, promoting green development. In the face of climate change, which is a major challenge to all humanity, we need to advocate green and low-carbon development, actively promote solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy, work for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and keep strengthening our capacity for sustainable development.
Fourth, upholding equity and justice. The world needs true multilateralism. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values of humanity and represent the abiding aspirations of both China and Africa. We both advocate a development path suited to our national conditions and are both committed to upholding the rights and interests of developing countries. We both oppose intervention in domestic affairs, racial discrimination, and unilateral sanctions. We need to unequivocally stand for the just propositions of developing countries and translate our common aspirations and interests into joint actions.
In the run-up to this Conference, our two sides have jointly prepared the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035. Under the first three-year plan of the Vision, China will work closely with African countries to implement the following nine programs:
First, the medical and health program. To help the AU achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, I announce that China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donations and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as a joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries. In addition, China will undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa.
Second, the poverty reduction and agricultural development program. China will undertake 10 poverty reduction and agricultural projects for Africa and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa. China will set up a number of China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration, and training in China, encourage Chinese institutions and companies to build in Africa demonstration villages for China-Africa cooperation on agricultural development and poverty reduction, and support the Alliance of Chinese Companies in Africa for Corporate Social Responsibilities in launching the initiative of “100 Companies in 1,000 Villages”.
Third, the trade promotion program. China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, speed up the inspection and quarantine procedures, and further increase the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment for the least developed countries (LDCs) having diplomatic relations with China, in a bid to reach 300 billion US dollars in total imports from Africa in the next three years. China will provide 10 billion US dollars of trade finance to support African export, and build in China a pioneering zone for in-depth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation and a China-Africa industrial park for Belt and Road cooperation. China will undertake 10 connectivity projects for Africa, form an expert group on economic cooperation with the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and give continued support to the development of the AfCFTA.
Fourth, the investment promotion program. China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than 10 billion US dollars in Africa in the next three years and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion. China will undertake 10 industrialization and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of 10 billion US dollars to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB center. China will exempt African LDCs from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2021. China is ready to channel to African countries 10 billion US dollars from its share of the IMF’s new allocation of Special Drawing Rights.
Fifth, the digital innovation program. China will undertake 10 digital economy projects for Africa, set up centers for China-Africa cooperation on satellite remote-sensing application, and support the development of China-Africa joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases. China will work with African countries to expand Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, hold online shopping festivals featuring quality African products and tourism e-commerce promotion activities, and launch a campaign to market 100 African stores and 1,000 African products on e-commerce platforms.
Sixth, the green development program. China will undertake 10 green development, environmental protection, and climate action projects for Africa, support the development of the “Great Green Wall”, and build in Africa centers of excellence on low-carbon development and climate change adaptation.
Seventh, the capacity-building program. China will help build or upgrade 10 schools in Africa and invite 10,000 high-level African professionals to seminars and workshops. We will implement “Future of Africa — a project for China-Africa cooperation on vocational education”, and start an employment “through-train” scheme for African students in China. China will continue to work with African countries to set up “Luban Workshops”, and encourage Chinese companies in Africa to create at least 800,000 local jobs.
Eighth, the cultural and people-to-people exchange program. China will support making all African countries have diplomatic ties with China-approved destinations for Chinese tourist groups. We will hold African film festivals in China and Chinese film festivals in Africa, as well as a China-Africa youth services forum, and a China-Africa women’s forum.
Ninth, the peace and security program. China will undertake 10 peace and security projects for Africa, continue to deliver military assistance to the AU, support African countries’ efforts to independently maintain regional security and fight terrorism, and conduct joint exercises and on-site training between Chinese and African peacekeeping troops and cooperation on small arms and light weapons control.
Senegal’s first President Léopold Sédar Senghor once wrote, “Let us answer ‘present’ at the rebirth of the world.” I am convinced that the concerted efforts of China and Africa will make this FOCAC Conference a full success, one that shall pool the mighty strength of the 2.7 billion Chinese and Africans and guide us toward a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.