In­ter­twined De­vel­op­ment

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

ChinAfrica - - OPINION - 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 niyan­shuo@chi­nafrica.cn

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

Dai Bing

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