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Chinese, African Leaders Upgrade Relations as Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC Closes
Leaders attending the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC have reached consensus on lifting China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the plenary meeting of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg, South Africa, on December 5, 2015 (XINHUA)

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that leaders attending a major summit in Johannesburg have reached consensus on lifting China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

Xi, who proposed the upgrade one day earlier at the opening session of the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), made the announcement before the landmark two-day gathering draws to an end.

Johannesburg Declaration, Action Plan

The summit, attended by Xi and heads of state and government and representatives from about 50 African countries, adopted a declaration and an action plan for cooperation in the coming three years.

The two documents, Xi said, represent an all-round planning for future development of China-Africa relations and pragmatic cooperation in various areas.

Xi said the two documents would inject fresh impetus into the comprehensive development of China-Africa relations, and provide strong guidance and political guarantee for the two sides to conduct mutually-beneficial cooperation in more areas and on higher levels.

The two documents, he added, are guidelines to the development of China-Africa relations, and were achieved through equal and friendly negotiations between China and Africa.

The two documents made clear the future development goals and missions for the two sides' relations, and proposed major measures for win-win cooperation and hand-in-hand development.

Five pillars, 10 plans

The Chinese President also reaffirmed the importance of the five major pillars he highlighted a day earlier that China and African countries should focus on.

The five pillars include consolidating political mutual trust, striving for win-win economic cooperation, enhancing exchanges and learning from each other's cultures, helping each other in security, and cementing unity and coordination on international affairs.

To realize the upgrade of relations, Xi said leaders at the meeting have been determined to push forward the all-round development of China-Africa relations by focusing on implementing 10 major cooperation plans covering the areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.

Xi summed up China-Africa relations by saying the two sides should maintain equality, mutual trust and support for each other no matter how the international situation changes, and uphold the principle of win-win cooperation for common development no matter how volatile the economic situation is.

China and Africa should also adhere to the spirit of coordination featuring mutual understanding and common progress no matter how much the times have changed, and be committed to standing side by side in all weathers no matter how severe the challenges are, he noted.

Prosper together

South African President Jacob Zuma, who co-chaired the summit with Xi, said in his closing remarks that the principles underlying the FOCAC partnership are "sincerity, mutual trust, equality, win-win cooperation, and mutual benefit."

"The theme of the summit, Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development, was most appropriate," concluded Zuma, noting that Africa and China want to "prosper together."

"I'd like to sincerely thank President Xi, for his immense contribution in making this partnership successful, and for his commitment to taking the relationship with Africa to its highest level ever," he said.

Other African leaders also spoke highly of the declaration and action plan adopted at the summit, vowing to utilize the opportunities presented at the meeting to push forward Africa's industrialization and agricultural modernization.

The leaders said they are willing to actively participate in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, enhance security cooperation, and speak with one voice in the international arena, so as to safeguard common interest and face common challenges.

The Johannesburg summit is the second of its kind under the 15-year-old framework of the FOCAC, which groups China, 50 African countries that have established diplomatic ties with China, and the Commission of the African Union.

(Xinhua News Agency December 5, 2015)

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