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Premier Li Keqiang' Speech at the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa
(2014-05-10)

 

Work Together to Scale New Heights in African Development

Address by H.E. Li Keqiang

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

At the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa

Abuja, 8 May 2014

Your Excellency Mr. Klaus Schwab,

Your Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan,

Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

The theme of this year's forum, "Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs", could not have been more relevant and inspiring. On behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to warmly congratulate you on the convening of the forum.

The African continent is an important birthplace of the world civilization. Over the past century, the people of Africa have achieved national liberation and independence. And especially since the beginning of the new century, Africa has demonstrated strong economic vitality, maintained overall social stability, and emerged as a continent on the rise.

Three days ago, when I spoke at the AU headquarters, I said Africa was a "pole" of the world in three ways. First, Africa is home to 54 countries, which accounts for over a quarter of the UN member states. It increasingly "speaks with one voice" and is playing an ever growing role in the governance of global affairs. Africa has thus become a major pole in the world political arena. Second, Africa has a total population of one billion and an economic aggregate of over 2 trillion US dollars. Of the world's ten fastest growing economies in 2013, seven are in Africa, which indicates its growing weight in the developing world. Africa is, therefore, also a major pole in global economic growth. Third, with more than 1,500 ethnic groups and over 2,000 different languages, Africa is rich in cultural heritages. Such cultural diversity on full display here makes Africa a colorful pole in human civilization. In the international political and economic landscape, it is always better to have more "poles" than fewer "poles". The rise of Africa as a new pole will only make the world more democratic, stable, dynamic and colorful, and better facilitate peace, development and progress in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Inclusive growth is a development concept widely embraced in the world. It refers to employment, fairness and balanced development in one country. It also refers to balanced development among countries and regions. The mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa contributes to the well-being of more than 2.4 billion people and more balanced growth of the world economy. This in itself is the most significant inclusive growth in the world.

Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Despite the economic take-off in many African countries, daunting challenges remain, such as weak infrastructure, underemployment and poverty. China is the biggest developing country in terms of population and size. It is true that China is one of the leading economies in the world, but its ranking in the United Nations Human Development Index is still around the 100th place. China and Africa face many similar problems and share the same task of growing the economy, raising living standards and promoting social progress.

What we find encouraging is that China-Africa cooperation has and will continue to drive inclusive growth among developing countries. Given the fact that China and Africa are at similar development stages, they have much to gain from each other's development. Since the beginning of this century, China's robust economic growth has brought along massive exports of African goods and provided strong support for Africa's rapid growth. The enormous potential in Africa's economy has attracted Chinese investment here and provided greater room for China's own economic development. Africa needs infrastructure and industrial development, whereas China has the spare financing and production capacity in these fields. Each has so much to offer to the other side. I am confident that cooperation based on such complementarity and mutual benefit will give an even stronger boost to China and Africa's respective development.

The China-Africa relationship has stood the test of the past several decades and continues to grow from strength to strength. This is a relationship of steadfast mutual support, common development and mutual learning. Our respect for each other, cultural exchanges and sharing of development experience is a blessing for our respective development and global prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China-Africa relations are facing a new historical opportunity. China will work with Africa to put in place a new framework of four principles, six areas and one platform for advancing China-Africa cooperation. To be specific, we will follow the four principles of treating each other with sincerity and as equals, enhancing solidarity and mutual trust, and jointly pursuing inclusive development as well as innovative and practical cooperation. We will carry out cooperation in six major areas, namely, industrial cooperation, financial cooperation, cooperation on poverty reduction, cooperation on environmental protection, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and cooperation on peace and security. And we will make good use of the platform of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. We will upgrade China-Africa cooperation in response to new development needs of Africa and elevate our new type of strategic partnership to a new level.

China will continue to prioritize infrastructural development in its cooperation with Africa. We will work with Africa to upgrade and build transport infrastructure in Africa to promote connectivity on the African continent. Coming out of my meetings with African leaders, I see the need to develop three major networks.

First, a network of high-speed railway in Africa. During her meeting with me, AU Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma talked about the African dream of the century to connect the capitals of all African countries with a high-speed rail network. China will help make this dream come true by carrying out all-round cooperation with Africa in planning, designing, equipment making as well as construction and management of high-speed railway. China is ready to set up a high-speed railway R&D center in Africa to help it complete this mega railway project in Africa. We can start with sub-regions in these efforts.

Second, a network of expressway in Africa. President Goodluck Jonathan has proposed the building of a network of expressway in west Africa. Quite a few African countries have also expressed interest in broadening cooperation with China in building expressways. China welcomes such desire and will step up coordination with Africa to connect current expressways in Africa to form a continental network over time.

Third, an aviation network in Africa. China has put forward the China-Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation Plan. By setting up joint aviation companies, providing regional jets, training aviation technical and management personnel, and building supporting facilities, the plan will help promote the development of aviation in Africa. In addition, we should promote cooperation on power, telecommunications and other infrastructural development.

China is ready to provide financial, personnel and technological support to infrastructure development in Africa. China will step up its investment and financing cooperation with Africa by providing an additional 10 billion US dollars in credit to make its pledged credit line to a total of 30 billion US dollars, and by adding another 2 billion US dollars to make the China-Africa Development Fund a total of 5 billion US dollars. China will vigorously advance the "African Talents Program", providing 18,000 government scholarships to African students and training 30,000 African professionals in the various areas. China will also help train more technical personnel for Africa through multiple ways, including training schemes by China's enterprises and Confucius Institutes in Africa.

Cooperation between China and African countries is based on good faith and complete openness. China is ready to share its advanced and applicable technologies and management expertise with African countries without any reservation. China is ready to accept the form of joint venture or cooperative venture with the African side on all projects that it participates in constructing or operating. China is also ready to step up its collaboration with international organizations and relevant countries to make a joint contribution to Africa's development.

Africa's rejuvenation hinges, in the final analysis, on industrial development. China will support, as a priority, relocating labor-intensive industries to Africa, and creating more non-agricultural jobs, especially those suited to the young people. At the same time, China will support Africa in increasing its food production and developing high-efficiency agricultural processing. China will also help Africa transforming its energy and resource sectors by extending to surveying, planning, logistics, marketing, refining, power-generation and other upper-stream and lower-steam links, so as to turn its natural endowment into economic strength and enhance its capacity for self-generated development.

Though still a developing country, China has nonetheless turned itself into a major economy. China will, as always, continue to increase its assistance to Africa in both quantity and quality to the extent of its ability, ensuring that more than half of its foreign aid will go to Africa, and to such areas as poverty-alleviation, agriculture, medical services, clean water, disaster prevention and reduction, with a view to helping African people improve lives. China will never attach political conditions to its assistance to Africa and will never use its aid programs to interfere in the internal affairs of African countries.

We will strengthen China-Africa cooperation in green and low carbon development and make sure the Chinese enterprises operating in Africa fulfill their social responsibilities. We must strictly prohibit illegal mining and pollution discharge and crack down hard on such illegal activities as rosewood and ivory smuggling. The Chinese government will provide Africa with assistance worth 10 million US dollars to protect its wild life resources and biodiversity and promote sustainable development on this continent.

Business ties and people-to-people exchanges are two closely-related and mutually reinforcing wheels that move China-Africa cooperation forward. China will work together with Africa to further expand trade and investment between the two sides, advance cultural and people-to-people exchanges, promote cooperation on peace and security and strengthen ties between parliaments, political parties, social groups, think tanks and private sectors so that the two ancient civilizations will enhance each other's charm through mutual learning and exchanges.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One cannot talk about China-Africa cooperation without mentioning China's current economic performance and trend. With rapid economic growth in the past three decades and more, China has become the second largest economy in the world. But China remains the largest developing country. Although it has achieved initial prosperity on the whole, the per capita GDP of China, because of its large population, is only over 6,000 US dollars, lower than the world average. Development is very uneven between its urban and rural areas and between different regions, which is typical of a developing country. The annual net income of China's 700 million plus rural population is less than 1,400 US dollars in per capita terms, and by World Bank standard, 200 million of them are still living below the poverty line. China has a long way to go before it realizes modernization.

China's economy grew by 7.7% in 2013 and 7.4% in the first quarter of this year. This is considered medium-high growth either compared with our past performance or as a major economy. There is concern whether China's economy may suffer a hard landing. We need, however, to recognize what actually caused such a slow down in economic growth. With an economic aggregate of 9 trillion US dollars, an annual growth of 7.5% of the Chinese economy will produce an increment of 700 billion US dollars, equivalent to the size of a medium developed country. China continues to enjoy a solid foundation of sustained growth. The development gaps between its urban and rural areas and between different regions also represent potential. The Chinese economy has huge development space and room for growth.

Having enjoyed many years of double-digit growth, the Chinese economy is now shifting gear to slow the speed and steady the steps. We will give more attention to enhancing the quality and efficiency of growth and making growth more inclusive. We will focus on ensuring steady growth and strike a balance between further reform, structural adjustment and improvement of people's well-being, with a view to facilitating sustained and sound economic growth. Reform is the inexhaustible driving force for development. China owes its past high-speed growth to reform and will continue to rely on reform for high-quality growth in the future. With the zeal and wisdom of the entire population mobilized, we will surely be able to unleash greater market vitality, social creativity and inherent driving force of development. Structural adjustment is beneficial for the present and even more so for the future. More broad-based economic growth will be achieved if we adopt structural reform to advance structural adjustment, improve industrial structure, promote a new type of people-centered urbanization, and extend development in a phased way from the coastal areas to the interior. Improving people's well-being is vital for increasing consumption and domestic demand. Efforts to deepen reform of the income distribution system, expand the middle income group, build social safety net, boost consumption of 1.3 billion Chinese and promote social development and progress are bound to add greater sustaining power to China's economic development.

China's development today focuses on more employment, balanced development, equity and justice, better lives for the people and social progress. This is what inclusive growth is all about. We have the confidence and capability to meet the expected growth target of around 7.5% for this year and maintain a medium-high growth for a fairly long period of time to come. This is good news for African countries and the world economy at large.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As an ancient Chinese saying reads, "When united with one heart and mind, success is secured." China will work shoulder-to-shoulder with African countries as equals and with all sincerity to scale new heights in African development and make more contribution to global prosperity and progress.

To conclude, I wish the forum full success.

Thank you.

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