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Amb. Zhou Pingjian: FOCAC: working toward even stronger China-Africa community with shared future

On June 30, 2019, Nigerian leading newspaper Leadership published an article written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. ZHOU Pingjian, FOCAC: working toward even stronger China-Africa community with shared future. The full text goes as follows:

The Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully held in Beijing on 25 June 2019. Coordinators from China, 53 African countries including Nigeria, and the African Union Commission attended the meeting.

Both sides applauded the great success and the far-reaching historical significance of the FOCAC Beijing Summit convened from 3 to 4 September 2018. Both sides highly commended China's policy toward Africa and new measures for China-Africa cooperation underpinned by the eight major initiatives and associated financing totaling US$60 billion, articulated by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Summit, and measures manifested in the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021). Both sides decided to work together on the follow-up actions of the Summit under the principles embodied in the Beijing Declaration, engage in Belt and Road cooperation, deepen and elevate China-Africa cooperation, and work toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

As President Xi says in his congratulatory message sent to the Meeting, “The FOCAC Beijing Summit successfully held last September stands as a milestone in the history of China-Africa relations. Chinese and African leaders agreed, at the Summit, to synergize their Belt and Road cooperation with the AU's Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of individual African countries, to jointly deliver on the eight major initiatives for China-Africa cooperation, thus drawing up a new blueprint for taking China-Africa relations to greater heights. I am delighted to see that our two sides have been working together actively to follow through on the outcomes of the Summit, and have produced a number of satisfying early harvests that have brought tangible benefits to the Chinese and African people”.

President Xi further expressed his hope that the two sides, guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, will seize the Coordinators' Meeting as a new opportunity to enhance communication and synergy, deepen unity and cooperation, and strive for concrete progress in the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit and in Belt and Road cooperation, thus promoting the wellbeing of the 2.6 billion Chinese and African people, and contributing to an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

The coordinators of FOCAC African members spoke highly on the implementation progress of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and declared unanimously with the Chinese side a joint statement highlighting the consensus of the Meeting and also demonstrating their decisions of working together on the follow-up actions to elevate China-Africa cooperation toward a even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. Besides, the coordinators also had dialogues with the executives of Chinese financial institutions, which helped them to deepening understanding on policies, tools and products of the Chinese financial sector.

The FOCAC Beijing Summit last September has given rise to a new boom in China-Africa exchanges and cooperation. The implementation of the summit outcomes is in full swing.

Firstly, High-level engagement and political mutual trust has reached a new high, with 17 state and party leaders from the Chinese side visiting 25 African countries and the AU Headquarters.

Secondly, the quality and efficiency related to the practical economic and trade cooperation have improved, with major projects supported by grants or concessional loans from China making steady progress. Last year, two-way trade again exceeded US$200 billion, making China Africa’s largest trading partner for the tenth straight year.

Thirdly, the people-to-people and cultural exchanges are off to a new and bright start. The China-Africa Institute was inaugurated, the 8th edition of the China-Africa think-tank forum will be held in the next half year. The emergency aid provided to several African countries suffered from natural disasters reflects the profound friendship.

Fourthly, peace and security cooperation has achieved prominent results. China supports Africa to build up the peace-keeping capacity of its will, hurries at developing the implementation program of the China-Afria peace and security fund, with the aim at holding the first session of the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum this July in Beijing.

The Coordinator’s Meeting has received a great deal of positive response, especially during the meeting many African leaders made insightful remarks on China-Africa cooperation.

On behalf of the member states of ECOWAS, Ambassador Baba Ahmad Jidda of Nigeria to China, spoke highly of the fruitful cooperation outcomes between ECOWAS and China. “We are impressed with the sustained growth and development of relations between China and ECOWAS Member States. ECOWAS Countries have had cordial relationship in the recent past with China culminating into very fruitful results especially in the areas of transport, infrastructure, maritime, energy, agriculture, health, and security. As we progress in our discussion and interaction during this Meeting, we are confident that both sides will receive new impetus to continue to work for the timely and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and the Action Plan (2019-2021).”

The world today is marked by profound changes unseen in a century and the collective rise of developing countries, including China and African countries. Cooperation between China and Africa and our shared development will contribute significantly to building the strength of developing countries and to fostering a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.

For China-Africa cooperation in the new era, a blueprint has been drawn and it now all comes down to implementation.

We need to keep to the fundamental direction of building a China-Africa community with a shared future. China will firmly support African countries in upholding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, exploring the development path suited to their national conditions, and safeguarding peace and stability in the region. And China supports the efforts of the AU to seek greater strength through unity.

We need to remain committed to jointly developing the Belt and Road Initiative. China will follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, strengthen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative, the eight major initiatives and the development strategies of African countries, and channel more resources of Belt and Road cooperation to Africa.

We need to uphold the just cause of multilateralism. Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and protectionism, resurgent Cold-War mentality and talk of clash of civilizations, we, China and Africa, need to unequivocally uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, and take a clear stand against unilateralism, protectionism and bullying acts in all manifestations.

We need to promote the spirit of equal and open cooperation. We call on all countries to engage and embrace Africa on the basis of equality and with an open mind. China will work with other countries to pool our strengths to help African countries speed up development and rejuvenation, and make life more colorful and rewarding for the African people.

All countries are entitled to development and progress, a right that both the Chinese and African peoples are exercising in our abiding pursuit of the Chinese Dream and the African Dream with our own efforts and through international cooperation.

At the FOCAC Beijing Summit, President Xi articulated the principles guiding China’s cooperation and relations with Africa. A “four-uphold” approach in pursuing cooperation with Africa: uphold sincerity, friendship and equality, uphold common interests while putting friendship first, uphold a people-oriented approach in pursuing practical cooperation with efficiency, and uphold openness and inclusiveness. And a “five-no” approach in our relations with Africa: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development path that fits their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.

“These principles represent a rock-solid promise that we intend to keep up with concrete effort,” as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made it very clear in his keynote speech at the opening session of the Coordinators’ meeting, “no interference will weaken our resolve to strengthen cooperation with Africa, nor will any obstacle stop China and Africa from working together for rejuvenation.”

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