FOCAC Fo­cus

ChinAfrica - - CONTENTS -

All eyes will be on Bei­jing in early Septem­ber when African lead­ers head to the Chi­nese cap­i­tal for the Third Sum­mit of the Fo­rum on Chi­naAfrica Co­op­er­a­tion (FOCAC). Much has been writ­ten and spo­ken about this sum­mit, com­ing as it does in an ever in­creas­ing po­lar­ized world.

There is no doubt that FOCAC has be­come the most com­pre­hen­sive plat­form for South­south co­op­er­a­tion and the bench­mark of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion with Africa.

All in­di­ca­tions are that African lead­ers sense the time is right for faster de­vel­op­ment and to this end will push hard at the sum­mit to lift Sino-african co­op­er­a­tion to greater heights.

In this re­gard, Chi­nese Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Wang Yi said that dur­ing the past six years when South Africa has been serv­ing as co-chair of the fo­rum, China and South Africa have been closely co­or­di­nat­ing and ac­tively pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the fo­rum mech­a­nism so as to ad­vance China-africa sol­i­dar­ity and co­op­er­a­tion.

As part of its goals, the sum­mit in­cludes the pro­mo­tion of eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion, and takes longer-term ben­e­fits into ac­count, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of African Af­fairs un­der the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs of China.

This will in­clude tak­ing more di­rect mea­sures to align Africa’s nat­u­ral re­sources, pop­u­la­tion div­i­dends and mar­ket po­ten­tial with China’s in­vest­ment, equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy. In the process, the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Africa will be more mar­ket-ori­ented than govern­ment-led and ex­pand to in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity from com­mod­ity trad­ing with more in­vest­ments than con­tracted projects.

Also of spe­cial in­ter­est to Africa is the African Union Agenda 2063. This home­grown blueprint for the so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion of the con­ti­nent over the next half a cen­tury, along with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment and China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, all need to be syn­chro­nized for a shared fu­ture. The FOCAC Bei­jing Sum­mit will be sure to chart a course to make this hap­pen.

As al­ways, FOCAC brings with it neg­a­tive re­ports from the West about its pur­pose and ul­te­rior mo­tives. How­ever, beat­ing the same crit­i­cal drum has lit­tle mean­ing to FOCAC role play­ers. Shu Zhan, For­mer Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Eritrea and Rwanda, said African coun­tries were in­volved in ini­ti­at­ing FOCAC and that Chi­nese and Africans have al­ways con­sulted and worked to­gether for the com­mon good. As Shu pointed out, FOCAC is pre­cisely dif­fer­ent from co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nisms be­tween Africa and other coun­tries be­cause it em­pha­sizes African ini­tia­tive from the very be­gin­ning. Africans have joint own­er­ship of FOCAC and the fo­rum has also helped shape the very essence of how China deals with mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in the new era. As Shu said, FOCAC has prob­a­bly even paved the way for other na­tions in the world to es­tab­lish sound co­op­er­a­tion schemes with Africa. Each FOCAC sum­mit has been a mile­stone in the China-africa re­la­tion­ship. The Bei­jing Sum­mit will again con­tinue this tra­di­tion and ring the bell to sig­nal full steam ahead in China-africa com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic and co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship.

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