On December 4 and 5 of this year, both Chinese and African people will witness a highlighted moment in the history of China-Africa relations as the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Zuma will co-chair this summit, with the attendance of the heads of state and government and representatives of 50 African countries and President of the AU Commission. As the first FOCAC summit taking place on the African continent, it is destined to be a historic grand event to consolidate solidarity and cooperation between China and Africa.
Since the founding of FOCAC 15 years ago, China-Africa cooperation has yielded more and more fruitful results. As a fine example of South-South cooperation, the forum now stands as an important platform for China-Africa collective dialogue and practical cooperation as well as a banner guiding the development of China-Africa relations. FOCAC has become a resounding brand for China-Africa solidarity and cooperation, and a model for leading international cooperation. In this regard, China-Africa cooperation has been constantly enriched, covering broader areas with more diversified participants.
-In the economic field, the trade volume between China and Africa has soared from US$10 billion to US$220 billion in the past 15 years and China has been African largest trade partner for 6 consecutive years. During the same period, China’s direct investment in Africa has sharply increased from US$500 million to US$30 billion. By September 2015, China and African countries had signed loan agreements worth more than US$30 billion.
-In the assistance field, China has completed the building of 5 new agro-tech demonstration centers, 7 vocational training facilities, 14 culture facilities, 7 metrological infrastructure projects, 67 well digging and water supply projects and 9 forest protection and management projects. China has also provided training for 30,173 personnel since 2012 and offered scholarships to a total of 15,126 African students in 2013 and 2014.
-In the medical assistance, a total of 43 Chinese medical teams are stationed in 42 African countries and 1,771 Chinese medical workers have been sent to Africa since 2012. Especially when the Ebola ravaged in West Africa including Liberia, China responded quickly and provided 4 rounds of emergency assistance worth over US$110 million.
-In the people to people exchanges, hundreds of projects have been conducted under the frameworks of “China-Africa People-to-People Friendly Action” initiative, “China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan” and “China-Africa Think Tanks 10+10 Partner Plan”. Since 2013, about 300 Chinese young volunteers have provided service in more than 20 African countries. In 2014, 3,062,400 Chinese citizens chose Africa as their first stop in overseas trips and 24 African countries have become approved destinations for Chinese tourist groups.
-In the peace and security fields, currently there are 2,700 Chinese peacekeepers deployed in 7 UN missions in Africa. China has joined the international actions to fight against the pirates in the Gulf of Aden and waters of the coast of Somalia. During the United Nations General Assembly this year, President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide $100 million worth of military grant to AU.
Looking into the future, China and Africa provide immense opportunities for each other. China and Africa are both developing regions facing common challenges of development and sharing broad common interests in a world that is undergoing and will continue to undergo and complex changes. Development is the priority of China and Africa and both sides are at a crucial stage of development and have formulated ambitious development strategies. China and Africa both have distinctive features. China has mature and applicative technology and equipment and relatively abundant capital, while Africa is blessed with a remarkable advantage of markets, labour, power and natural resources. China and Africa have been rising hand in hand with the Chinese Dream and the African Dream taking off side by side. It is estimated that in the next five years, China will import goods worth $10 trillion and invest over $500 billion overseas. At the same time, outbound visits made by Chinese people will exceed 500 million. This will bring enormous business opportunities to the world, Liberia and other African countries included.
The upcoming FOCAC Johannesburg Summit is a new historical starting point for carrying forward China-Africa cooperation. This FOCAC Summit is under the theme “China-Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development”. Leaders of China and the African countries will gather in South Africa to discuss the ways to further align China and Africa’s development strategies and map out the new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation and it will surely benefit the peoples of the two sides. What’s more, the leaders will plan from the comprehensive and strategic perspectives the prospects of China-Africa relations under the new situation, center on the two most urgent tasks of accelerating industrialization and agricultural modernization in Africa, and vigorously remove the two bottlenecks of backward infrastructure and insufficient talents. The leaders will focus on helping the African countries build the three systems of industrialization, food security and public health prevention and control, so as to work out the three major problems of employment, food and health. The leaders will also push China-Africa practical cooperation to upgrade from general trade to production capacity cooperation, from project contracting to investment and management, and from assistance to independent development, in efforts to achieve common development and shared prosperity of the two sides. The summit will pay more attention to people’s livelihood, attach greater importance to inputting in the field of poverty-reduction and favor for the least developed countries, women, children and other groups in need of assistance and support, and more comprehensively embody its features of “co-consultation, co-contribution and sharing”, so as to constantly provide impetus and vigor for the long-term development of China-Africa cooperation.
During the summit, China will announce new measures of cooperation with Africa for the next three years. These new measures will directly serve the development strategies of both sides. Priorities will be given to address two major bottlenecks constraining Africa’s development, namely the backward infrastructure and the lack of professionals. Moreover, China will focus on issues concerning African people’s wellbeing, like food, employment and health, and strengthen cooperation in such major areas as industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure building, public health and poverty reduction, investment and trade facilitation, people-to-people exchanges, peace and security and green development.
As part of China-Africa relationship, China-Liberia relationship has been developing in a fast track and significant progresses have been made in bilateral cooperation in various fields. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Chinese President, H.E. Xi Jinping, agreed to build China-Liberia Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership during her successful visit to China last month. I believe that it is right the time to further deepen the bilateral cooperation under the framework of FOCAC. Accordingly, I believe that through our joint efforts, the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit will be a great success and also a precious opportunity guiding the future development of the comprehensive cooperation partnership between China and Liberia.