IT'S WIN-WIN

Two decades of Sino-Africa relations as FOCAC turns 20

Twenty years later, what has the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation delivered?

In Summary

•In 2019, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa topped US$49.1 billion, up by nearly 100 times from the year 2000

•China has been Africa's largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and has contributed more than 20 per cent to Africa's growth for a number of years.

China through Focac 2018 hosted the largest gathering of African leaders outside the continent.
China through Focac 2018 hosted the largest gathering of African leaders outside the continent.
Image: (PresidencyZA)

Embracing the dawn of the new century and the trend of peace and development 20 years ago, China and Africa decided to initiate the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to promote win-win cooperation.

Since then, the two partners have shared a common platform for collective dialogue and mechanism for practical cooperation, ushering in a brand new chapter in Sino-Africa relations.

Indeed, the past twenty years have been a journey of productive cooperation. FOCAC has bolstered high-level interactions and political trust between China and Africa, delivering a leap in China-Africa relations from "a new type of partnership" to "a new type of strategic partnership" and to "a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership".

In a recent statement marking the anniversary, China’s State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, noted that China-Africa cooperation has made impressive achievements. In 2019, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa topped US$49.1 billion, up by nearly 100 times from the year 2000; China-Africa trade reached US$208.7 billion, 20 times the size of 2000.

China has been Africa's largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and has contributed more than 20 per cent to Africa's growth for a number of years. Many flagship projects, for instance, the African Union (AU) Conference Center, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, and the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, are up and running. Cooperation in other fields, from science, education, culture, health, to people-to-people exchange, peace and security, is also making significant headway.

 
The Nairobi-Naivasha SGR remains a testament of Kenya's cooperation with China.
The Nairobi-Naivasha SGR remains a testament of Kenya's cooperation with China.
Image: file

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President Xi Jinping has personally laid down principles guiding China's Africa policy, including sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests for a shared future.

China-Africa Belt and Road cooperation is progressing with a strong momentum: 44 African countries and the AU Commission signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, and a host of projects such as railways, roads, airports, ports and power stations have come to fruition, enabling remarkable change in Africa's economic and social development.

People-to-people exchanges have been thriving. Events across a diverse range of areas, including the China-Africa Youth Festival, Think Tank Forum, Joint Research and Exchange Program, Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, and the China-Africa Press Center, have been successful. And the China-Africa Institute has already been inaugurated.

China is the largest developing country and the African continent home to the largest number of developing countries. When China-Africa cooperation prospers, South-South cooperation will prosper. When the voice of the 2.6 billion people in China and Africa are heeded and respected, the world will have genuine fairness and justice.

Yi noted that China and Africa are at a crucial stage of development and rejuvenation. The Chinese and African peoples are entitled to live a better life.

“Our cooperation is about action and results. Every three years, FOCAC rolled out a package action plan. The 2018 Beijing Summit alone produced more than 880 deliverables. We always deliver and we do not make empty promises. We have kept pace with the times and kept our mind open to break new ground and tide over challenging times. According to African friends, FOCAC is a cooperation mechanism that truly delivers,” Yi noted.

During the 2008 international financial crisis, China and Africa rendered each other valuable support. Instead of reducing assistance, China bucked the trend and increased its support to Africa.

During the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, when others chose to leave, Chinese doctors and nurses braved difficulties and rushed to the hard-hit regions to help local people fight the disease, leaving an indelible chapter in the history of humanitarian assistance of the People's Republic of China. Faced with the onslaught of Covid-19 worldwide, China and Africa have again stood shoulder to shoulder to help each other tide over the challenges.

 
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi: "We always deliver and we do not make empty promises. We have kept pace with the times and kept our mind open to break new ground and tide over challenging times."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi: "We always deliver and we do not make empty promises. We have kept pace with the times and kept our mind open to break new ground and tide over challenging times."

Colonial plunder and the Cold-War rivalry brought excruciating sufferings to the African people. That part of history must not be repeated. Africa must never again be an arena for major-power rivalry. This belief is widely shared by people across Africa, and should be respected by the entire international community.

China and Africa can and should be a new shining example in building a community with a shared future for mankind. The more complex and fluid the international landscape is, the greater the imperative for China and Africa to adhere to the fundamental direction of building a China-Africa community with a shared future.

Stated Yi: “We need to promote the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, step up mutual support on issues involving each other's core interests and major concerns, and work together for greater democracy in international relations. We need to take the side of the overwhelming majority of the international community, stay committed to multilateralism, and align global governance reforms with the common interests of developing countries. With these efforts, we will make the China-Africa relationship a trailblazer and a shining example in building a community with a shared future for mankind.”

China and Africa can and should set a new benchmark for international anti-epidemic cooperation. As the Covid-19 continues to spread globally, the two partners are confronted with the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilising the economy and protecting people's livelihoods. China has promised to expedite implementation of the important measures President Xi announced at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19, and make China's contribution to making vaccines accessible and affordable for African countries as soon as possible.

Nairobi skyline: China encourages Chinese businesses to step up investment and technological cooperation in Africa.
Nairobi skyline: China encourages Chinese businesses to step up investment and technological cooperation in Africa.

China will continue to provide Covid-19 containment supplies, send expert teams, and facilitate Africa's procurement of medical supplies from China. China will strive for breaking ground for the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters by the end of this year.

These are concrete actions that will show the world that China and Africa have the determination and strength to defeat Covid-19 together. China also supports Africa's effort to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Chinese companies and financial institutions are now encouraged to take an active part in infrastructure connectivity projects in Africa, which will facilitate cross-border logistics and customs clearance. China hopes to work with Africa to deepen the integration of industrial and supply chains, and encourages Chinese businesses to step up investment and technological cooperation in Africa.

The second largest economy in the world has also said it will support Africa's agricultural modernisation and industrialisation drive to raise the added value and competitiveness of Africa's exported energy, mineral and agricultural products.

Further, China will work with the international community to support Africa's integration into the global industrial and supply chains. There is also need to collaborate in pursuing green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable development.

This will contribute to African countries' ability to tackle climate change. As an ancient Chinese verse reads, "Having scaled a cloud-shrouded mountain peak, we rest our horses and set sail for the vast ocean."