Working together to write a new chapter of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in the new era

Chinese and foreign media report the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in September, 2018. Photo by Weng Qiyu/People's Daily Online

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has entered its 20th year of development this year.

The cooperation mechanism was established by China and African countries at the beginning of the 21st century to create common development and jointly cope with challenges. Over the past 20 years, the FOCAC has convened three summits and seven ministerial conferences.

Paying high attention to China-Africa ties, Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit. He raised a series of new concepts, proposals and measures of China’s Africa policies.

FOCAC has become a strong boost to the friendship between China and Africa. From the establishment of “the new type of partnership between China and Africa” announced in the first Ministerial Conference of FOCAC in 2000, to “the new type of strategic partnership” announced at the 2006 Beijing Summit, and to “the comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership” at the 2015 Johannesburg Summit, FOCAC, building on the traditional friendship between China and Africa, has brought their friendly relations to a higher level.

At the 2018 Beijing Summit, President Xi expounded on the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and of pursing the greater good and shared interests. He proposed cooperation between the two sides to build a China-Africa community with a shared future that features joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, common cultural prosperity, common security, and harmonious co-existence, thus setting the direction for China-Africa friendly relations in the new era.

FOCAC has become an effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa. At the 2018 Beijing Summit, President Xi announced that guided by the vision toward an even stronger community with a shared future between China and Africa, China is willing to, on the basis of the two sides’ ten cooperation plans, work closely with African countries on eight major initiatives as the focus of China-Africa cooperation in the coming three years, which drew a grand blueprint for the common development of China and Africa.

FOCAC has become an important and vibrant platform for China-Africa collective dialogue. In June 2019, the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo achieved a full success, pulling together Chinese and African national and local governments, think tanks, enterprises and financial institutions for cooperation and exchanges.

Chinese and African economies are highly complementary. They enjoy comparative strengths in industrial systems, market demand, factors of production, and resources. The Chinese market with 1.4 billion people and the African market with 1.2 billion people boasts huge development potential.

China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for eleven years in a row, and Africa has emerged as an investment destination for Chinese enterprises. In 2019, the two sides’ total trade was $208.7 billion, 20 times that of 2000; China’s stock direct investment in Africa reached $49.1 billion, 100 times that of 2000.

Major projects including the African Union (AU) Conference Center, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, the Abuja-Kaduna Railway, the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Cooperation Zone, and Doraleh New Port of Djibouti have been completed.

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting China and Africa, health has become a new highlight China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. President Xi chaired the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, and stressed that China would work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals, to build a China-Africa community of health for all. China has provided assistance in kind to 53 African countries and the AU and helped Africa to purchase medical supplies from China.

China and Africa are good friends, good partners and good brothers with shared destiny and vision. Facing unprecedented changes of the world unseen in a century, the two sides need to enhance their cooperation. China will adhere to the principle of pursuing shared benefits through consultation and collaboration, and fully tap the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the 54 African members of the forum. In response to the evolving situation, the country will explore new approaches and ways to develop the forum, constantly enrich and improve its mechanisms, and enhance its power to appeal, rally and inspire.

China will take helping Africa realize independent and sustainable development as a long term goal, better align its two centenary goals with the AU’s Agenda 2063, deepen international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative framework, adopt more targeted policies and make more effective use of funds, give greater priority, as appropriate, to cooperation on public health, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, and people’s livelihood in order to bring more benefits to the Chinese and African people.

The FOCAC symbolizes unity and strength, and breeds results and hope. It’s believed that when brothers come together, there is nothing they cannot achieve. With the concerted efforts on the Chinese and African sides, they will surely usher FOCAC in another two decades of glory, and China-Africa commercial cooperation will surely have a bright, splendid future and make a greater contribution to the realization of the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation and the African dream of unity and revitalization for the African people.

(Zhong Shan is the Chinese Minister of Commerce.)

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