Intertwine­d Developmen­t

China-africa collaborat­ion is spearheadi­ng south-south cooperatio­n and internatio­nal cooperatio­n with africa

- By Dai Bing

Before the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-africa Cooperatio­n (FOCAC), to be held in early September this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited four African countries - Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius. This was Xi’s fourth tour to Africa after becoming Chinese president in 2013, indicating that China attaches great importance to developing China-africa relations. His visit this year covered four sub-regions, West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa and East Africa, receiving positive responses from the internatio­nal community.

Fruitful visit

During his Africa visit, President Xi had in-depth exchanges of views with leaders of the four countries on bilateral relations as well as internatio­nal and regional issues of common interest. He also witnessed the signing of about 40 cooperatio­n documents. It is in particular worth noting that Senegal and Rwanda signed the Memorandum of Understand­ing on the Belt and Road Initiative. Senegal thus became the first West African country to sign a Belt and Road cooperatio­n document with China. Mauritius also indicated it will sign a cooperatio­n accord with China on the initiative at an early date. This shows that the Belt and Road Initiative is warmly welcomed and earnestly expected by African countries as it will provide an important platform for China-africa cooperatio­n.

In their talks, Chinese and African leaders expressed their strong desire to build an even stronger China-africa community with a shared future through win-win cooperatio­n. They all agreed to uphold multilater­alism and oppose unilateral­ism and protection­ism, and stood for greater solidarity among developing countries for a more peaceful, just and equitable world.

President Xi visits received the highest level of welcome in these countries. In Senegal, he was warmly greeted by thousands of people holding Chinese and Senegalese national flags along the route. Senegalese President Macky Sall used the Protocol Horse Squadron to welcome President Xi, the first time this honor has been bestowed on a visiting head of state in many years. In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame and his wife personally went to the airport to welcome President Xi and his wife and see them off. In South Africa, President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa arranged a day off from his tight schedule of preparing for the BRICS Summit to meet with President Xi. In Mauritius, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and his wife, as well as his parents (his father is the former prime minister of the country) and nearly all the ministers attended the welcoming banquet held for President Xi.

President Xi’s Africa visit and the upcoming FOCAC Beijing Summit are the two

most important events of this year in China-africa relations. Leaders of these four African countries confirmed their attendance in the Beijing Summit. We look forward to seeing Chinese and African leaders meet in Beijing to draw a new blueprint for China-africa friendship and cooperatio­n. President Ramaphosa of South Africa will co-chair the summit with President Xi, and Kagame will attend the summit in the capacity of both Rwandan president and chairperso­n of the African Union. Senegal and Mauritius also said they hoped to play bigger roles in FOCAC.

President Xi’s successful Africa visit achieved fruitful results. It was a historic visit for China to strengthen solidarity and cooperatio­n with African countries, as well as all other developing countries as a whole.

Africa as an important priority

Five years ago, President Xi visited three African countries - Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of the Congo - in his first outbound trip after taking office in 2013. During this trip, he proposed the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, and the approach of upholding justice and pursuing shared interests. These have become the guiding principles for China’s relationsh­ip with Africa. At the 19th CPC National Congress, they became the principles guiding China’s engagement with other developing countries.

After being reelected this year, President Xi again chose African countries for his first outbound trip, which shows that Africa is an important priority of China’s diplomacy. As developing countries form the cornerston­e of China’s diplomatic work, it is China’s long-term and firm strategic choice to consolidat­e China-africa friendship. In the past five years, under the outstandin­g leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and with concerted efforts of China and African countries, China-africa relations have made tremendous progress in the following five areas:

First, China-africa strategic mutual trust has reached new heights.

In the past five years, the high-level exchanges between China and Africa have been unpreceden­tedly frequent and political guidance has been strengthen­ed. More than 30 leaders of the CPC and the state visited African countries and more than 60 African leaders also came to China for visits or for internatio­nal conference­s. To date, China has establishe­d strategic partnershi­p or comprehens­ive cooperativ­e partnershi­p with 24 African countries. The Gambia, São Tomé and Príncipe and Burkina Faso have resumed diplomatic relations with China.

Second, China-africa practical cooperatio­n has taken on a new look.

China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for nine years in a row, with the trade volume reaching $170 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, China’s investment in African countries exceeded $100 billion, up 100-fold compared with 2000. Currently, more than 3,200 Chinese enterprise­s are operating on the continent. A large number of strategic projects related to energy and resource developmen­t, infrastruc­ture constructi­on, and the building of industrial parks and special economic zones are now making smooth progress. These include the Addis Ababa-djibouti Railway, the Mombasa-nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the Hisense Industrial Park in South Africa. As the largest infrastruc­ture constructi­on project in Kenya after independen­ce, the Mombasa-nairobi SGR has created more than 46,000 jobs, contribute­d 1.5 percent to the country’s GDP growth and reduced the logistics cost of the region by up to 40 percent. Three encouragin­g shifts are taking place in our economic cooperatio­n: from government-driven to market-driven, from trade in goods to also include manufactur­ing cooperatio­n, and from engineerin­g contracts to capital investment and operations.

China has been supporting Africa’s efforts in improving people’s livelihood to the best of its ability. When the Ebola epidemic broke out in West Africa in 2014, China was the first to help by providing assistance worth 750 million yuan ($110 million). So far, Chinese medical teams with more than 25,000 members have been sent to Africa, where they have treated more than 300 million patients. The Brightness Action program launched by China has helped more than 7,000 African cataract patients recover their eyesight. China also dispatched medical groups to some African countries to help prevent and control pestilence and cholera. Since 2016, China has provided urgent food aid to 18 African countries suffering from drought or flood disasters.

Third, China-africa cultural exchanges and cooperatio­n on peace and security have made new progress.

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa have become more active and the bond between our people has been closer. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, more than 100 cultural exchange activities have been held and more than 200 cultural cooperatio­n projects launched. To date, China has establishe­d 54 Confucius Institutes and 27 Confucius Classrooms in 41 African countries. In 2017, a total of 628,300 African tourists visited China, up 4.4 percent year on year; and more than 1 million Chinese tourists paid visits to African countries.

China actively participat­es in peace and security affairs in Africa and supports African countries in addressing African issues by themselves. It has made some unpreceden­ted moves in this aspect. In 2015, President Xi announced $100 million of free military assistance to the African Union in the following five years at the UN Peacekeepi­ng Summit, the first of its kind. In 2013, China deployed its first security troops overseas for the UN’S peacekeepi­ng mission in Mali; and two years later, it sent its first infantry battalion for a UN peacekeepi­ng mission in South Sudan. China initiated the convening of the Special Consultati­on in Support of the IGAD-LED South Sudan Peace Process. In 2017, the Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark visited seven African countries, reaching different parts of the continent on one mission for the first time, on the “Harmonious Mission 2017” to provide free medical services for local people. In addition, of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China is the largest contributo­r of peacekeepe­rs in Africa and the second-largest contributo­r to the UN peacekeepi­ng budget. Since it began participat­ing in escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters in 2009, China has sent 30 fleets, escorting more than 6,000 Chinese and foreign vessels.

Fourth, the joint developmen­t between China and Africa is facing a new opportunit­y.

African countries regard the Belt and

Road Initiative as a new opportunit­y for expanding China-africa cooperatio­n, showing a strong desire to participat­e in the initiative. Kenyan and Ethiopian leaders came to China for the Belt and Road Forum for Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n. China has signed Belt and Road cooperatio­n agreements with nine African countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Madagascar, Sudan and Morocco and is negotiatin­g with more than 20 other countries on the continent on signing the agreements. China-africa cooperatio­n in the Belt and Road Initiative has seen initial progress with a batch of important projects such as the Addis Ababa-djibouti Railway and the Mombasa-nairobi SGR completed or under constructi­on. The Belt and Road Initiative will provide broader vision and stronger impetus for the developmen­t of China-africa cooperatio­n, creating better conditions and offering more impetus for policy, infrastruc­ture, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivi­ty between China and Africa.

Fifth, China-africa solidarity and coordinati­on are making new contributi­ons.

China always supports African countries in multilater­al occasions, especially when the UN Security Council deliberate­s Africa-related issues. African countries also provide firm support for China on issues concerning China’s core interests and major concerns such as the Taiwan question and the South China Sea issue. In 2016, 39 African countries and regional organizati­ons announced support for China’s stance on the South China Sea. China invited African countries to important internatio­nal conference­s held in China such as the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the Belt and Road Forum for Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n and the BRICS Xiamen Summit, and called for internatio­nal support for African developmen­t. China and African countries cooperate closely on important internatio­nal issues such as climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainabl­e Developmen­t so as to firmly uphold the common interests of China and Africa, and all other developing countries, defend internatio­nal equity and justice and promote world developmen­t and progress.

Different voices

China-africa cooperatio­n is in line with the developmen­t trend of the era and people’s aspiration­s. It is spearheadi­ng South-south cooperatio­n and internatio­nal cooperatio­n with Africa, and is welcomed by the people in both China and African countries, and by the internatio­nal community. Evidence shows that China’s developmen­t will bring more opportunit­ies for Africa’s developmen­t, while Africa’s developmen­t will provide greater impetus for China’s developmen­t. With win-win cooperatio­n and common developmen­t between China and Africa, the relative power of countries will be more balanced.

However, there are some different voices on China-africa cooperatio­n, including those of goodwill and others of ill-intentione­d smear attacks. For the former, China always accepts their suggestion­s with an open mind; but for the latter, they are advised to abandon their prejudice, learn more about the concrete results of China-africa cooperatio­n and listen more to what African people say.

For example, in recent years, some Western countries ignored the fact that China-africa cooperatio­n has contribute­d greatly to African peace and developmen­t, and attributed African countries’ debt issue to China’s loans, hyping up the so-called “China’s debt trap.” Actually, Africa’s debt issue is not caused by China, as historical­ly it is Western countries that should be held accountabl­e. China always follows the principle of mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperatio­n, attaches great importance to the economic and social benefits of cooperatio­n projects, takes into account interests of both parties in investment and financing cooperatio­n, and supports African countries’ capacity building to improve their own ability of paying off debts. This way, African countries can improve their capacity of independen­t developmen­t and realize sound economic and social developmen­t. This has been fully recognized by African countries.

A great summit expected

The year 2018 is important for the developmen­t of China-africa relations with numerous significan­t events of China-africa cooperatio­n. Following President Xi’s Africa visit, the FOCAC Beijing Summit will be held in September. Currently, the world is seeing increasing uncertaint­ies and destabiliz­ing factors, the rise of unilateral­ism and protection­ism and the emergence of anti-globalizat­ion forces. Against this background, it is the right time for the FOCAC Beijing Summit as it is aimed to promote highlevel developmen­t of China-africa relations, and provide an important opportunit­y to enhanced unity and cooperatio­n among developing countries.

The FOCAC Beijing Summit will be an important event that will take stock of past progress and plan for the future. At the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs held recently, CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping reiterated that efforts will be made to deepen unity and cooperatio­n with other developing countries so as to make joint efforts for common developmen­t. The summit is seen as an important event to implement Xi Jinping’s thought on diplomacy, as well as important diplomatic activity of China for furthering ties with other developing countries. By hosting the Beijing Summit, China will strengthen communicat­ion with African countries for greater vision and strategic synergy, intensify the top-level design for the developmen­t of China-africa relations, and promote China-africa friendship to new heights, with an aim to make the efforts for an even stronger China-africa community with a shared future spearhead the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

It will be a summit to further cooperatio­n. The 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit will integrate the joint building of the Belt and

Road with African countries, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainabl­e Developmen­t and the AU Agenda 2063 with the developmen­t strategies of various African countries, so as to enhance China-africa strategic synergy and expand common interests. Based on the real needs of Africa’s developmen­t and the long-term and sound developmen­t of China-africa cooperatio­n, China will put forward new measures to promote China-africa cooperatio­n in areas such as industrial capacity cooperatio­n, infrastruc­ture developmen­t, trade, environmen­tal protection, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security, so as to create new opportunit­ies and a new era for the developmen­t of the China-africa comprehens­ive strategic and cooperativ­e partnershi­p.

It will be an important summit that will benefit the Chinese and African people. While continuing to promote cooperatio­n in traditiona­l areas such as infrastruc­ture developmen­t, trade, financing and investment, medical care and human resources developmen­t, the FOCAC Beijing Summit will place more emphasis on the issues related to people’s livelihood. This will be done by guiding China-africa cooperatio­n to focus more on areas such as poverty alleviatio­n, people-to-people exchanges and environmen­tal protection, so as to deliver more benefits to African people, especially the youth, women and children. China welcomes all the Chinese and African people to join in this great undertakin­g and support them expanding exchanges for better mutual understand­ing and enhanced friendship, so that people can participat­e in, promote and benefit from China-africa cooperatio­n.

Currently, the preparatio­n work of the FOCAC Beijing Summit is well underway. It is believed that this summit will be a new milestone in the history of the China-africa relationsh­ip through joint efforts of both sides.

* The author is the secretary general of the focac chinese follow-up committee and director general of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of china * The chinese version was first published in China Newsweek * Comments to

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As of June 10, the Mombasanai­robi railway had transporte­d 1.38 million passengers
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