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Ministers Say
Building on Past Achievements for a Brighter Future
 ChinAfrica December 2015

 
The Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa on December 4-5 will be a historic event. The summit, marking the 15th anniversary of the founding of FOCAC, will be the second of its kind in the history of China-Africa relations and the first to be held on the African continent. It has not only been highly anticipated in both China and Africa but also attracted close attention from the international community.

China and its African friends jointly inaugurated FOCAC in 2000 to strengthen unity and cooperation and cope with challenges together. With the establishment of this collective dialogue platform and pragmatic cooperation mechanism, China and Africa marched into the new century hand in hand.

With FOCAC at the helm, cooperation between China and Africa has progressed rapidly across the board over the past 15 years, leading to the consolidation of the China-Africa community of shared future and interests. Political mutual trust between the two has deepened. Chinese state leaders have paid 149 visits to African countries and their African counterparts have made 379 trips to China. Mutual confidence has grown remarkably. China and Africa have always offered each other understanding and support on issues involving their core interests and major concerns. Pragmatic cooperation in diverse areas has borne abundant fruit. While working more closely with Africa in traditional areas such as agriculture, health and education, China has been active in expanding cooperation in emerging areas including finance, science and technology, and environmental protection. It is committed to assisting Africa in infrastructure construction and human resources development and supporting Africa's efforts to pursue independent and sustainable development. In 2014, the stock of China's non-financial direct investment in Africa was more than 60 times that in 2000, and China-Africa trade volume, 22 times. China has been Africa's largest trading partner country since 2009, contributing more than 20 percent to the latter's economic growth. In addition, cultural ties between China and Africa have been further cemented, with a considerable increase in personnel exchanges in various sectors. Cooperation in peace and security has made strides. The Chinese Government has designated its special representative on African affairs. China has participated in 16 United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa. Over 2,700 Chinese peacekeeping troops, police officers and military staff members are now serving in seven mission areas on the continent. All these efforts have contributed to Africa's peace and development.

Thanks to the joint efforts of China and Africa, FOCAC has become a flagship institution with great vitality and appeal spearheading the development of China-Africa relations, and a highly recognized initiative in international cooperation involving Africa. This is due to the following reasons:

Adhering to sincerity, friendship and equality. This is a fine tradition in China's relations with Africa as well as a political advantage in China's diplomatic policy toward Africa. In its exchanges and cooperation with Africa, China has always respected the African initiative, is attentive to African countries' opinions, and accommodates their concerns. It empathizes with Africa, shares its concerns and refrains from attaching political strings or imposing unreasonable demands. The decisions to upgrade the Third FOCAC Ministerial Conference in 2006 to the Beijing Summit and the Sixth FOCAC Ministerial Conference this year to the Johannesburg Summit were both taken based on African countries' suggestions and consultations between China and Africa, exemplifying their mutual respect and equality.

Honoring promises and valuing pragmatism and efficiency. Since the establishment of FOCAC, the Chinese Government has been initiating a series of pragmatic measures at FOCAC meetings every three years to support African development and enhance China-Africa cooperation. China has always lived up to its promises and endeavored to achieve the best possible outcome. It never issues a "bad check" and conscientiously fulfills its commitments with the goal of providing concrete support for African countries so that they can achieve self-reliant and sustainable development. Since 2008, the Chinese economy has been confronted with downward pressure in the aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis and also partly due to its own internal economic restructuring. Even so, China has honored its commitments and fulfilled its promises under the FOCAC framework. In light of the new circumstances and demands of development of both sides, China is planning new measures that will help boost China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development in the next three years.

Keeping abreast of the times and striving to be pioneering and innovative. FOCAC is the first institutional dialogue and cooperation-oriented platform of its kind established by China with other developing countries. It itself is a big innovation. The FOCAC Beijing Summit was the first time China held a large-scale summit conference. The Johannesburg Summit will be the first overseas summit with China being the co-host. A multi-level consultation mechanism has been built within the FOCAC framework and has inspired the establishment of a dozen more sub-forums. These are the results of the collective wisdom of China and African countries and the new achievements of innovative and pioneering China-Africa cooperation. Since the launch of FOCAC, China and Africa have strived to expand areas of cooperation, explore new potential and models for cooperation, and mobilize new participants and resources to ensure the vigor and vitality of China-Africa cooperation. We can be reassured that this summit will inject a strong impetus into China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development; that the industrialization and agricultural modernization process in Africa will pick up steam; and that China-Africa cooperation in all fields will be enhanced.

Attaching great importance to political concurrence and effective coordination. Chinese leaders have always placed high value on China-Africa relations and FOCAC affairs. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Africa in 2013 during his first trip overseas as China's head of state. He reaffirmed the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and a balanced approach to principles and interests. President Xi will co-host the Johannesburg Summit with South African President Jacob Zuma in accordance with the new demands of cooperation. The Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC, made up of more than 40 member institutions, is in charge of coordinating with government departments of China for concerted efforts to push forward China-Africa cooperation. Close contact and coordination will be maintained between the Chinese Government and governments of African countries and between the Follow-up Committee and the African Diplomatic Corps in China. This has played a vital role in translating the decisions of all previous FOCAC meetings into practice and enhancing pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa in all areas.

Currently, the international situation is undergoing profound and complicated change, which has brought enormous opportunities for the development of all countries as well as challenges. China is advancing reform in an all-round way and its industrialization has entered a mature stage. It means China has an abundance of advantageous industries and spare capacity that can be deployed overseas. Moreover, China is more than determined to assist African countries to achieve independent and sustainable development. Africa, though with fledgling industrialization, is blessed with rich natural and human resources and great market potential; hence its desire is to receive spare capacity from industrialized economies to promote its own industrialization and modernization. China and Africa are in different stages of development with complementary industries. Our cooperation is soon expected to witness qualitative transformation after decades of incremental change. China and Africa, each with its own unique and comparative advantages, have embraced a new historic opportunity for development.

With China-Africa relations reaching a new starting point, the Johannesburg Summit is being held at the right time. Chinese and African leaders getting together to renew friendship, discuss further cooperation and seek common development will draw a new blueprint for and inject new vigor into China-African relations, and open a new chapter in China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development. The Johannesburg Summit will definitely be a historic event that will strengthen China-Africa solidarity and guide future China-Africa cooperation.

The summit will take China-Africa relations to a new high. It will comprehensively evaluate the position of China-Africa relations in the two sides' respective development and foreign policies, upgrade the new strategic positioning of China-Africa relations, and add new substance to them. China will take this opportunity to formulate a new version of its Africa policy, systematically expounding President Xi's new ideas, policies and measures toward Africa, and guiding the future development of China-Africa relations.

The Johannesburg Summit will raise the quality and efficiency of China-Africa cooperation. It will discuss how to align the development strategies of both sides and closely link China's development with Africa's independent and sustainable development. It will unveil new measures to promote China-Africa pragmatic cooperation. These measures will leverage industrial alignment and capacity cooperation, enable the market to play a leading role and enterprises to become major market players, and upgrade China's investment in and trade with Africa. They will also help promote Africa's industrialization and agricultural modernization, and turn China and Africa's respective advantages and development potential into real achievements.

The Johannesburg Summit will ensure China-Africa cooperation delivers more benefits to the people. New measures to be put forward at the summit will focus on helping Africa solve two development bottlenecks, poor infrastructure and skills shortage. The new measures will prioritize supporting Africa to build an independent and sustainable industrial system, a food security system, and a disease prevention and control system. They will underscore resolving three major livelihood issues - employment, food and health. All this is intended to have Chinese and African people share the results of the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa.

The Johannesburg Summit will push forward China-Africa cooperation for the greater good of the world. Cooperation between China and Africa is an integral part of South-South cooperation. China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development will play a guiding and exemplary role for South-South cooperation and help increase the overall strength and influence of all developing countries, promote South-North cooperation and make the world order and global governance system more balanced and equitable, thus contributing to the establishment of a new type of international relations focusing on win-win cooperation.

In retrospect, China-Africa cooperation has been fruitful, beneficial to both sides, and welcomed by the people. Looking ahead, China and Africa will implement the results of this summit and take this opportunity to together usher in a new era of win-win cooperation and common development.

I wish the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit every success.

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