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.