By Ambassador CUI Jianchun
From November 29 to 30, the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Dakar,Senegal (the current African co-chair of the FOCAC). In the face of changes and a global pandemic unseen in a century, ministerial officials from Nigeria, China and other 54 FOCAC members, including the African Union Commission, will overcome difficulties to gather together and discuss plans for friendly cooperation and draw a new blueprint for future cooperation.
Three years ago, at the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, leaders from China and African countries had unanimously decided to build an Africa-China community with a shared future, that assumes joint responsibility, pursues win-win cooperation, delivers happiness for all, enjoys common prosperity, enjoys common security and promotes harmony between man and nature, meanwhile, also determined to elevate the Africa-China comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to ever higher levels and set a fine example for the efforts of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
China is the world’s largest developing country, while Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Both sides share a lot in the common cause of development. The nature of Africa and China cooperation has always been mutually beneficial, effective and result-oriented, which are also the unique advantages of the FOCAC. Over the past 21 years since its inception, FOCAC has developed stronger mechanisms and produced remarkable results in practical cooperation. It has now turned itself as a pacesetter for cooperation with Africa and a fine example of mutually beneficial cooperation in the world.
United by the FOCAC, Africa and China have become close partners on solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing the pandemic, China and African countries have taken robust, proactive and effective measures together. The Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on solidarity against COVID-19 was held in June 2020, which demonstrates the strong will of the two sides to defeat the pandemic. The Chinese government has provided multiple batches of emergent medical supplies and vaccine donations to African countries. Chinese hospitals have been paired up with 43 hospitals in 38 African countries, and China has trained more than 20,000 African health workers. The construction of the new headquarters building of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has commenced by the Chinese side ahead of schedule. Till now, nearly 40 African countries have used COVID-19 vaccines from China, while several among them are conducting joint manufacture with China in their own countries. These concrete efforts give true meaning to the Africa-China community with a shared future.
Guided by the FOCAC, Africa and China have become steady partners on political consonance. In relations with Africa, China has always followed the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests, by valuing sincerity and equality and pursuing common interests. At the same time, China always appreciates the strong support given by Africa in the international arena, especially its solid commitment to the one-China policy. China would never forget that, 50 years ago, thanks to the decisive vote of developing countries, including Nigeria and other 25 countries in Africa, China had restored its legitimate seat in the United Nations. In recent years, among the countries co-signing the Joint Statement in support of China at the UN Human Rights Council for safeguarding the international principle of non-interference, more than half of them are from the African continent. In September this year, with the initiative of China and Africa, 78 countries made a statement at the Third Committee of the 76th session of the UNGA, calling for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which bears the common interests of the developing countries.
Boosted by the FOCAC, Africa and China have become inseparable partners in mutually beneficial cooperation. Over the past 20 years, China’s trade with Africa has risen 20-fold, making China Africa’s largest bilateral trade partner for 12 years in a row. In the first nine months of this year, China-Africa trade volume reached $185.2 billion, increasing by 38.2 per cent year on year. In terms of investment, by the end of 2020, China’s investment stock in Africa had exceeded $43.4 billion, covering more than 50 African countries, making China the fourth largest investor in Africa. In terms of infrastructure, Africa has become China’s second largest market for overseas contract projects. Under the auspices of FOCAC, China has built or upgraded over 10,000 kilometers of railways, nearly 100,000 kilometers of roads, 120 million kilowatts of installed power capacity, 150,000 kilometers of communication backbone networks, over 400 medical facilities and 1,200 educational institutions for Africa, creating more than 4.5 million jobs. China welcomes the official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) on January 1st, 2021, believing that it would turn a new page for Africa-China economic cooperation.
China supports African countries in independently exploring a development path tailored to their own national conditions. Countries, when interacting and cooperating with Africa, should respect the African people’s choice, listen to their voices and play a truly constructive role in Africa’s economic recovery and development through more concrete actions benefiting the local people.
With the theme of “deepen China-Africa partnership and promote sustainable development to build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era”, the upcoming FOCAC Ministerial Conference would definitely inject new impetus into the Africa-China comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, and make new contributions to upholding the overall interests of developing countries and advancing world peace, stability, development and prosperity in a post-COVID era.
It is my belief that, by building on past achievements and working together closely, Africa and China could build an even stronger community with a shared future, so as to bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples.
Cui Jianchun is Ambassador of China to Nigeria