China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals-2021
China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China-a white paper titled China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals on November 26.
- I. Building an Even Stronger China-Africa Community of Shared Future
- II. All-Round China-Africa Cooperation in the New Era
- III. Strengthening Mutual Support
- IV. Breaking New Ground in China-Africa Relations
China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Shared past experiences and similar aims and goals have brought China and Africa close together. China and Africa will always be a community of shared future. Developing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, as well as a firm and longstanding strategy. In the fight for national liberation and independence, China and African countries supported each other and expanded mutual political trust in the process. In pursuing economic development and national rejuvenation, both sides have been helping the other and increasing the scope of cooperation. On major international and regional issues, they have coordinated their positions and jointly safeguarded international equality and justice.
Entering the new era, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the principles of China’s Africa policy – sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, charting the course for China’s cooperation with Africa, and providing the fundamental guidelines. The dual successes of the Johannesburg Summit in 2015 and the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018 pushed China-Africa cooperation to a new and unprecedented high. President Xi Jinping and African leaders unanimously decided at the FOCAC Beijing Summit that the two sides would work to build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, advance cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, establishing a new milestone in China-Africa relations.
China-Africa friendship has not been an overnight achievement, nor has it been gifted from on high. Rather, it has been fostered throughout the years when China and Africa supported and stood alongside each other in trying times. China has aided to the limit of its capabilities the development of Africa, and has been grateful for the strong support and selfless help African countries and their peoples have extended to China for a long period of time. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, China and African countries have continued to provide mutual support, writing a new chapter in China-Africa solidarity and friendship at times of crisis.
This white paper is designed to document the successes of China-Africa cooperation in the new era, and offer a perspective on future cooperation between the two sides.
I. Building an Even Stronger China-Africa Community of Shared Future
China and Africa enjoy a long-lasting friendship. Chairman Mao Zedong and other first-generation leaders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), along with African statesmen of the older generation, laid the foundations for China-Africa friendship. China has always offered respect, appreciation, and support for Africa, and the Chinese people have shared weal and woe and mutual assistance with African people, exploring a distinctive path to win-win cooperation. At the FOCAC Beijing Summit held in September 2018, the two sides decided to build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future and lead China-Africa relations and cooperation into a new era. China and Africa have stood together in success and adversity, setting an example for building a global community of shared future.
1. The Principles of Sincerity, Real Results, Amity and Good Faith and the Principles of Pursuing the Greater Good and Shared Interests
The principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principles of pursuing the greater good and shared interests epitomize China’s policy to Africa. They represent the essence of Chinese culture and embody the historical traditions of China-Africa friendship – a role model for international cooperation with Africa. They are the overarching guiding principles for China in building up solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, including those in Africa.
“Sincerity” is how we treat our African friends. Nothing is more important than a true friend. China has always considered solidarity and cooperation with African countries to be an essential element of its foreign policy. This will never change, not even when China grows stronger and enjoys a higher international status. China is ready to reinforce mutual support with African countries on issues involving core interests and major concerns of either or both. China will continue its firm support for Africa’s position on international and regional affairs, and uphold the common interests of developing countries. China will continue its support for African countries’ efforts to resolve their continent’s issues in their own way, and make a greater contribution to peace and security in Africa. China will continue its firm support for African countries’ efforts to explore development paths suited to their national conditions. It also stands ready to increase exchanges on governance experience with African countries and boost common development and prosperity, by drawing on wisdom from the time-honored civilizations and experience of both sides.
“Real results” are what China aims to achieve in its cooperation with Africa. China is a champion of win-win cooperation and works to put the principle into action. China is committed to integrating its own development closely with Africa’s development, and the Chinese people’s interests with those of African peoples. By so doing, China sincerely hopes that African countries will grow stronger and that African life will get better. While pursuing its own development, China has extended support and assistance to its African friends to the limits of its capacity. Particularly in recent years, China has scaled up its assistance and cooperation with Africa. Whenever it makes a commitment, China will always honor it to the letter. It will continue to expand cooperation in investment and financing with Africa and strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in agricultural and manufacturing sectors. By so doing, China will help African countries translate their strengths in resources into advantages in development and realize independent and sustainable development.
“Amity” is a principle China follows in strengthening China-Africa friendship. The peoples of China and Africa are destined to be good friends. Their hearts are bonded through dialogue and concrete actions. China-Africa friendship has its roots and lifeblood in the people, and the goal of China-Africa relations is to benefit the people. The two sides have long valued people-to-people exchanges, so that the Chinese people and African people know each other well and China-Africa friendship has grown on a solid social base. China-Africa friendship is forward-looking. To flourish, it needs continuous efforts by aspirational Chinese and African youth from one generation to another. The two sides should promote youth exchanges so that the friendship can maintain dynamism and vigor.
“Good faith” should be honored in solving problems arising from cooperation. Both China and Africa are at a stage of rapid development. Their mutual understanding should keep abreast of the times. China faces up squarely to any new problems in their relations, and is committed to properly addressing emerging problems in a spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
In terms of the principles of shared interests and the greater good, each is of vital importance, but more emphasis is given to the latter. In international affairs, China advocates political justice, mutual economic benefit, win-win cooperation, and common development. It upholds good faith, friendship, and integrity. Properly handling the relationship between shared interests and the greater good is an essential requirement of China-Africa relations in the new era. The greatest good in China-Africa relations is to closely combine Africa’s independent and sustainable development with China’s own development, and reject the zero-sum game and actions driven by a narrow pursuit of profit. The ultimate goal is to realize win-win cooperation.
2. Mutual Respect and Common Development
China-Africa cooperation is about mutual support between developing countries. Over the years, China has formed a distinctive approach to win-win cooperation with Africa. The approach is in line with the traditional Chinese philosophy, “Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you.” It also corresponds to the fundamental interests of African countries and the basic norms of international relations. It is a hallmark of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation and can serve as a useful reference for international cooperation with Africa.
China’s approach involves upholding four principles:
– Upholding sincerity, friendship and equality. The Chinese people have worked together with African people in pursuit of a shared future. China respects, appreciates and supports Africa.
– Upholding shared interests and the greater good, with greater emphasis on the latter. In its cooperation with Africa, China applies the principles of giving more and taking less, giving before taking, and giving without asking for something in return. It welcomes African countries aboard the express train of China’s development with open arms.
– Upholding a people-oriented approach in pursuing practical cooperation with efficiency. In its cooperation with Africa, China gives top priority to the interests and wellbeing of the peoples of China and Africa, and works to their benefit. China is committed to fully honoring the promises it has made to its African friends.
– Upholding openness and inclusiveness. China stands ready to work with other international partners to support Africa in pursuing peace and development. It welcomes and supports all initiatives that further Africa’s interests.
In developing relations with Africa, there are five lines that China will not cross: no interference in African countries’ choice of a development path that fits their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of its will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no pursuit of selfish political gains through investment and financing cooperation with Africa.
3. The Lofty Goal of Building a Community of Shared Future
At the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2018, China and Africa reached a strategic agreement to build a China-Africa community of shared future characterized by joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, cultural prosperity, common security, and harmony between humanity and nature. This is a fundamental program of action, and a lofty goal for the two sides. It has charted the course for China-Africa cooperation in the new era.
– In assuming joint responsibility, the two sides will reinforce mutual understanding and support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, and boost coordination on major international and regional issues. These efforts will enable the two sides to uphold the common interests of China and Africa as well as other developing countries.
– In pursuing win-win cooperation, China and Africa will seize the opportunity created by the complementarity between their respective development strategies and the major opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative. This will allow them to expand areas of cooperation and unlock new cooperation potential.
– In delivering happiness for all and growing China-Africa relations, the clear goal of the two sides is to make people’s lives better. The cooperation between the two sides must deliver real benefit to the people in both China and African countries.
– In pursuing cultural prosperity, China and Africa will work to strengthen the bond between their peoples by increasing exchanges, mutual learning and harmonious co-existence between the civilizations of the two sides, invigorating their civilizations and cultures, enriching their artistic creations, and providing richer cultural nourishment.
– In seeking common security, China is ready to play a constructive role, and will support African countries in strengthening their independent capacity for safeguarding stability and peace. China firmly supports African countries and the African Union (AU), as well as other regional organizations in Africa, in their efforts to solve African issues in African ways.
– In promoting harmony between humanity and nature, China will strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Africa on climate change, clean energy, prevention and control of desertification and soil erosion, protection of wildlife, and other areas of ecological and environmental sensitivity. Through their combined efforts, the two sides will make China and Africa beautiful places for people to live in harmony with nature.
Ultimately, it is for the Chinese and African people to judge the results of China-Africa cooperation. China’s aim in developing cooperation with Africa will always be to promote the fundamental interests of the Chinese and African people. It will never make containment of any third country an aim of its policy in Africa.
4. An Exemplary Model for World Development and Cooperation
When China-Africa cooperation thrives, South-South cooperation will flourish. When China and Africa are fully developed, the world will be a better place. Cooperation in the new era is the sure way for China and Africa to realize common development. It will lay more solid foundations for building an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, and build up strong momentum for the rise of developing countries as a whole, and for more balanced international relations.
Under the combined impact of the pandemic, a scale of change unseen in a century, and a sharp conflict between multilateralism and unilateralism, the global governance system is facing profound and unprecedented challenges. China sees Africa as a broad stage for international cooperation rather than an arena for competition among major countries. China-Africa cooperation has never been a case of talk and no action. It is a case of bringing tangible benefits to people in China and Africa, and creating more favorable conditions for others in the international community to conduct cooperation with Africa. In the new era, through solidarity and cooperation, the peoples of China and Africa will set an example in increasing the wellbeing of humanity, creating a new type of international relations, and building a global community of shared future.
II. All-Round China-Africa Cooperationin the New Era
China and Africa trust each other and China-Africa friendship is rock-solid. China is committed to consolidating China-Africa political mutual trust, expanding pragmatic cooperation with Africa in various areas, and extending its help to boost peace and development in the continent. China has always been on the forefront of international cooperation with Africa. After years of dedicated efforts, the tree of China-Africa cooperation has flourished – it is tall and strong, and cannot be shaken by any force. China-Africa friendship is in its prime. The fruitful results of China-Africa cooperation can be seen across the continent. It has improved the conditions for economic and social development in Africa and brought tangible benefits to people in both China and Africa.
1. Mutual Political Trust
Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, China and African countries have always been good friends who stand together through prosperity and adversity, good partners who share weal and woe, and good comrades who fully trust each other in a shifting international landscape. In 2006, the FOCAC Beijing Summit decided to establish a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. In 2015, the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit decided to build a China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. In the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, the two sides agreed to build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, raising China-Africa relations to a new level.
High-level exchanges play an important role in developing China-Africa relations. State leaders of the two sides value communication and coordination on bilateral relations and major issues of common interest. Their exchanges have laid solid political groundwork for consolidating traditional friendship, increasing mutual political trust, safeguarding common interests, and pursuing development and cooperation. In March 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Africa, his first official overseas visit after assuming the office of president. To date he has made four visits to different locations across the continent.
During the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, President Xi had one-on-one meetings with more than 50 African leaders, renewing friendships, exploring cooperation, and discussing the future. He also attended close to 70 bilateral and multilateral events.
After the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2018, 17 African leaders came to China for state visits or meetings. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, state leaders of the two sides have maintained contacts and communication via video and phone calls. In June 2020, President Xi Jinping presided over the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19 via video link. Thirteen African leaders and chairperson of the AU Commission attended the summit. Since the pandemic struck, President Xi has talked by phone with African state leaders on 17 occasions, maintaining close high-level contacts and exchanges with his African counterparts. President Xi has always treated African friends as equals, and fostered solid friendships and profound trust with African leaders. This head-of-state diplomacy has guided China-Africa relations to steady and sustained prosperity.
China and Africa consistently work to diversify and improve intergovernmental dialogue, consultation and cooperation mechanisms. They make the most of the coordinating role of the mechanism to promote all-round development of China-Africa cooperation in various areas. China has established a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership with nine African countries, a comprehensive strategic partnership with three, a strategic partnership with six, and a comprehensive cooperative partnership with seven. China has set up bi-national commissions and diplomatic consultation or strategic dialogue mechanisms with 21 African countries and the AU Commission, and joint (mixed) committees on trade and economic cooperation with 51 African countries. In 2016, China and the AU established a consultation mechanism on human rights. In 2017, China established the High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism with South Africa, the first of its kind between China and an African country. China-Africa cooperation at the local level is flourishing. The two sides have held four cooperation forums between local governments since 2012. There are currently 160 pairings of sister provinces/cities between China and African countries, 48 of which have been established since 2013.
China and African countries conduct close exchanges between political parties, legislative bodies and consultative bodies, building multi-level, multi-channel, multi-form and multi-dimensional friendly cooperation. The Communist Party of China expands exchanges and cooperation with political parties in African countries based on the principles of independence, equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. It is committed to building a new type of relations between political parties in which different political parties seek common ground while setting aside differences, and they respect and learn from each other. The two sides make full use of the positive role of legislation and supervision to provide policy support for bilateral cooperation and exchanges. The National People’s Congress of China has established mechanisms for regular exchanges with parliaments in Egypt, South Africa and Kenya, and bilateral friendship groups with parliaments in 35 African countries. The National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and its subsidiary organs maintain contacts with 59 institutions in 39 African countries. In June 2019, the CPPCC National Committee established the China-Africa Friendship Group, the first of its kind in the history of the CPPCC.
Over the past years, more African countries have joined the extended family of China-Africa friendship. China restored ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations with The Gambia on March 17, 2016, with Sao Tome and Principe on December 26, 2016, and with Burkina Faso on May 26, 2018. China now has diplomatic relations with 53 African countries, with the sole exception of Eswatini.
China has been active in developing cooperation with the AU and African sub-regional organizations. The AU Conference Center, which was built with Chinese assistance, was inaugurated in January 2012. It was the second-largest project in Africa to be built with China’s assistance after the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. In 2014, China sent a mission to the AU, marking a new stage of China-AU relations. China values the AU’s leading role in advancing African integration and building a stronger African continent through unity, and supports its dominant role in safeguarding peace and security in Africa. China also supports the AU in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs, adopting Agenda 2063, and executing the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan.
In a capacity of observer, China has attended the summit of many African sub-regional organizations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Economic Community of Central African States. China has sent ambassadors to the ECOWAS, SADC and EAC.
2. Rapidly Expanding Economic Cooperation
China and Africa have seen economic and trade cooperation expanding rapidly in scale and extent. The 10 major cooperation plans and the eight major initiatives adopted at the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit raised China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level.
– Increasing development assistance. While pursuing its own growth, China supports African countries in seeking development and improving their people’s lives. In the new era, China has scaled up assistance to Africa. Foreign aid from 2013 to 2018 totaled RMB270 billion. Of this sum, 45 percent went to African countries in the form of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans. From 2000 to 2020, China helped African countries build more than 13,000 km of roads and railway and more than 80 large-scale power facilities, and funded over 130 medical facilities, 45 sports venues and over 170 schools. It also trained more than 160,000 personnel for Africa, and built a series of flagship projects including the AU Conference Center. China’s assistance extended to various aspects of the economy, society and people’s lives, and was widely welcomed and supported by governments in Africa and the people. China has announced an exemption from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due to mature by the end of 2018. It will apply to Africa’s least developed countries, heavily indebted and poor countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries that have diplomatic relations with China. During the Covid-19 pandemic, China cancelled the outstanding debts of 15 African countries in the form of interest-free loans that matured at the end of 2020.
– Booming trade relations. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for the 12 years since 2009. The proportion of Africa’s trade with China in the continent’s total external trade has continued to rise. In 2020, the figure exceeded 21 percent. The structure of China-Africa trade is improving. There has been a marked increase in technology in China’s exports to Africa, with the export of mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products now accounting for more than 50 percent of the total. China has increased its imports of non-resource products from Africa, and offered zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of taxable items exported to China by the 33 least-developed countries in Africa, with the goal of helping more African agricultural and manufactured goods gain access to the Chinese market. China’s imports in services from Africa have been growing at an average annual rate of 20 percent since 2017, creating close to 400,000 jobs for the continent every year. In recent years, China’s imports of agricultural products from Africa have also risen, and China has emerged as the second largest destination for Africa’s agricultural exports. China and Africa have seen booming trade in new business models including cross-border e-commerce. Cooperation under the Silk Road E-commerce initiative has advanced. China has built a mechanism for e-commerce cooperation with Rwanda, and Chinese businesses have been active in investing in overseas order fulfillment centers. High-quality and special products from Africa are now directly available to the Chinese market via e-commerce platforms. The China-Mauritius free trade agreement (FTA), which became effective on January 1 2021, was the first FTA between China and an African country. It has injected new vitality into China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.
– Promoting cooperation in investment and financing. Cooperation in investment and financing has been one of the success stories of China-Africa cooperation in recent years, bringing new vitality into Africa’s economic and social development. Combining Africa’s needs and China’s strengths, China encourages its companies to increase and optimize investment in Africa, providing support in financing and export credit insurance for eligible projects. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Chinese government, financial institutions, and enterprises, China’s investment in Africa has built up sound momentum. It covers a wide range of fields including mining, processing and smelting of ores, equipment manufacturing, agriculture, home appliance production, aviation services, medicine and health, and the digital economy. With this help, African countries have been able to upgrade their industrialization, improve their industries, and increase their capacity to earn foreign exchange through exports.
By the end of 2020, direct investment of Chinese companies in Africa had surpassed $43 billion. China has established over 3,500 companies of various types across the continent. Private companies have gradually become the main investment force in Africa; more than 80 percent of their employees are locals, and they have directly and indirectly created millions of jobs.
– Facilitating agricultural development in Africa. China has always been willing to share agricultural development experience and technology with Africa, to support African countries in improving agricultural production and processing, and to help them in building their agricultural value chains and trade. Since 2012, 7,456 African trainees have received agricultural training in China. Through projects such as sending Chinese agricultural experts to Africa, more than 50,000 Africans have been trained and 23 agricultural demonstration centers have been built. To date, China has established agricultural cooperation mechanisms with 23 African countries and regional organizations, and signed 72 bilateral and multilateral agricultural cooperation agreements. Since 2012, China has signed 31 agricultural cooperation agreements with 20 African countries and regional organizations. In 2019, the First China-Africa Agriculture Cooperation Forum was held, which announced the establishment of the China-AU Agriculture Cooperation Commission and the formulation of a program of action to promote China-Africa cooperation in agricultural modernization. By the end of 2020, more than 200 Chinese companies had an investment stock of $1.11 billion in agricultural sector in 35 African countries. Their investments cover areas such as planting, breeding and processing. More than 350 types of African agricultural products can be traded with China. All this ensures steady growth in China-Africa agricultural trade.
– Contributing to industrialization in Africa. Industrialization is a prerequisite for the continent to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, and is also the key to creating jobs, eradicating poverty, and improving living standards. China supports African countries in improving their “soft” and “hard” environment for investment in accordance with their national conditions and development needs. Taking industrial alignment and capacity cooperation as the engine, China helps advance the process of Africa’s industrialization and economic diversification. To date, China has established industrial capacity cooperation mechanisms with 15 countries in Africa. China and African countries have worked together to build economic and trade cooperation zones, special economic zones, industrial parks and science parks, attracting enterprises from China and other countries to invest in Africa. They have built production and processing bases and localized their operations in Africa, contributing to an increase in local employment and tax revenues, and promoting industrial upgrading and technical cooperation. The China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation has focused on the construction of highways, railways, and aviation networks, and industrialization in Africa. As of March 2021, investments had been made in 21 projects, covering energy, resources and manufacturing and boosting industrial development in recipient countries. Dozens of Chinese-funded enterprises have cooperated with African counterparts to build photovoltaic power stations, with a cumulative installed capacity exceeding 1.5 GW, which has helped create photovoltaic industry chains from scratch in Africa, while effectively alleviating power shortages and reducing carbon emissions.
– Expanding cooperation in infrastructure. China supports Africa in making infrastructure development a priority for economic revitalization. It encourages and supports Chinese enterprises to adopt various models to participate in the construction, investment, operation and management of infrastructure projects in Africa. From 2016 to 2020, total investment in infrastructure projects in Africa reached almost $200 billion. Projects implemented by Chinese companies accounted for 31.4 percent of all infrastructure projects on the African continent in 2020. Since the founding of FOCAC, Chinese companies have utilized various funds to help African countries build and upgrade more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, and 66,000 km of power transmission and distribution. They have also helped build an installed power-generating capacity of 120 million kW, a communications backbone network of 150,000 km and a network service covering nearly 700 million user terminals. Built and operated by Chinese companies, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway was the first modern railway to be built in Kenya in 100 years. Applying Chinese standards, technologies and equipment, the project has won praise as a road of friendship and cooperation, and a path towards win-win development between China and Africa in the new era. The railway has carried 5.4 million passengers and 1.3 million standard containers. It has contributed 1.5 percent to Kenya’s economic growth, and created 46,000 direct and indirect jobs. China has guided its enterprises to explore multiple forms of cooperation, such as BOT (build-operate-transfer), BOO (build-own-operate) and PPP (public-private partnership). Such efforts aim to transform China-Africa infrastructure cooperation to a wholly integrated model covering investment, construction and operation, and push forward the sustainable development of infrastructure projects.
– Strengthening financial cooperation. Financial institutions from both sides have been exploring each other’s markets. Their central banks have expanded the scale of local currency settlement and currency swap, leading to a steady improvement in China-Africa financial facilitation. As of October 2021, the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) had 42 indirect participants in Africa, covering 19 African countries. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, has signed successive currency swap agreements with the central banks of South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria, to a total amount of RMB73 billion. China has signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in financial supervision with seven African countries including Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria, laying a solid foundation for steady and long-term bilateral financial cooperation. China has joined the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, the West African Development Bank and other multilateral development financial institutions. It has pledged to contribute a total of $996 million to the African Development Fund under the AfDB.
– Expanding cooperation in the digital economy. China is helping African countries to eliminate the digital divide. Rapid development and fruitful results have been achieved in this field – building digital infrastructure, transition towards a digital society, and the application of new technologies such as the Internet of Things and mobile finance. Chinese companies have participated in a number of submarine cable projects connecting Africa and Europe, Asia, and the Americas. They have cooperated with major African operators in achieving full basic coverage of telecommunications services in Africa. They have built more than half of the continent’s wireless sites and high-speed mobile broadband networks. In total, more than 200,000 km of optical fiber has been laid, giving broadband Internet access to 6 million households, and serving more than 900 million local people. To date, more than 1,500 companies in 17 cities in 15 African countries have selected Chinese corporate partners on their digital transformation path. Twenty-nine countries have selected smart government service solutions provided by Chinese companies. China and Africa have jointly established a public cloud service in South Africa that covers the entire African region. The two sides also released the first 5G independent networking commercial network in the region. The level and content of China-Africa e-commerce cooperation continue to grow. The Silk Road E-Commerce Capacity Building Cloud Lectures have effectively improved the digital literacy of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in partner countries. Promotion activities have been held to help high-quality products from Africa to access the Chinese market. Such activities include a government-initiated shopping festival that began in 2019, featuring Silk Road e-commerce, as well as the FOCAC African Products Online Promoting Season. Chinese companies actively participate in building platforms of public services in Africa such as electronic payment and smart logistics. All these efforts are designed to achieve win-win cooperation through promoting connectivity. At the China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum in August 2021, China announced its intention to formulate and implement a joint China-Africa Partnership Plan on Digital Innovation in Africa.
3. Growing Cooperation on Social Development
China is promoting cooperation with Africa in social fields such as poverty reduction, health, education, science and technology, environmental protection, climate change and exchanges among young people and women. Through strengthening exchanges, providing assistance and sharing experience, China is helping African countries to improve their comprehensive social development, which then provides internal impetus for their economic growth.
– Sharing experience in poverty reduction. Poverty is a common challenge facing China and Africa. Ending poverty is the primary goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With hundreds of millions of poor people having worked their way out of poverty, China has created a successful path of poverty eradication with Chinese characteristics, which has served as a reference for addressing the problem in Africa. China has effectively implemented the Program for Strengthening China-Africa Cooperation on Poverty Reduction. With mechanisms like the FOCAC Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, and the China-Africa Youth Exchange Program on Poverty Reduction and Development, China has supported local governments, academics, enterprises, and youth and non-governmental organizations in both China and Africa in carrying out various forms of exchange and pragmatic cooperation on poverty reduction. Since 2010, 10 FOCAC Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development conferences have been held in countries such as China, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda, with nearly 1,600 participants in total. From 2005 to 2021, China organized 160 poverty reduction and foreign aid training programs. Some 2,700 people from 53 African countries participated in the training, accounting for almost 60 percent of the total number of trainees.
– Enhancing medical and health cooperation. The Chinese government has always ranked people and lives above everything else. Through concrete actions, China has helped African countries respond to various epidemics and plagues and build a public health system, promoting a China-Africa community of health. One of the longest and most effective cooperation projects that involves the greatest number of African countries is the dispatch of Chinese medical teams. The first one, which was sent to Algeria in 1963, marked the first chapter in the story of China’s medical aid to Africa. Over the past 58 years, China has sent a total of 23,000 medical team members to Africa, who have treated 230 million patients. At present, there are nearly 1,000 Chinese medical workers in 45 African countries, working at 98 medical centers. They are hailed by the local Africans as the health messengers in white, models of South-South cooperation and most welcome guests. Chinese medical teams carried out 34 free clinical programs under the Brightness Action initiative, restoring the eyesight of almost 10,000 African cataract patients. China focuses on helping African countries strengthen medical specialties, training 20,000 African medical personnel. To date, it has helped 18 African countries establish 20 centers in different medical specialties, covering cardiology, critical care medicine, trauma and endoscopy. Paired cooperation mechanisms have been established between the Chinese side and 45 hospitals in 40 African countries. China supports African countries in improving their capacity in border health and quarantine inspection, and sends disease control experts to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention to provide technical support.
– Expanding cooperation in education and human resources. China vigorously supports education in Africa. Based on the needs of African countries for economic and social development, it helps train much-needed professionals for African countries and encourages outstanding African youth to study in China through several scholarships. Starting from 2012, the two sides have implemented the 20+20 Cooperation Plan for Chinese and African Institutions of Higher Education as an exchange and cooperation platform among universities. China set up an educational trust fund under UNESCO to provide teacher training for more than 10,000 teachers in African countries. Since 2018, China has established Luban Workshops together with colleges and universities in countries including Egypt, South Africa, Djibouti and Kenya, sharing quality vocational education resources with Africa and training high-caliber technical personnel to meet the urgent needs of economic and social development on the continent.
China has helped more than 30 African universities set up Chinese language departments or Chinese language majors. In cooperation with China, 16 African countries have incorporated the Chinese language into their national education systems. The two sides have established 61 Confucius Institutes and 48 Confucius Classrooms in Africa. Since 2004, China has sent a total of 5,500 Chinese language teachers and volunteers to 48 African nations.
– Stepping up scientific and technological collaboration, and knowledge sharing. China actively strengthens communication and coordination with Africa in terms of technological innovation strategies. It shares experience and achievements, and promotes the exchange and training of professionals and technology transfer, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship on both sides. China and African countries have set up high-level joint laboratories, the China-Africa Joint Research Center, and an innovation cooperation center. In recent years, China has assisted Africa in cultivating a large number of scientific and technological talents through projects such as the Alliance of International Science Organizations in the Belt and Road Region Scholarship, Chinese government scholarships, the Talented Young Scientist Program, and the Innovative Talent Exchange Project. Breakthroughs have been made in space cooperation. Using China’s remote sensing data, the two parties carry out cooperation in the fields of disaster prevention and mitigation, radio astronomy, satellite navigation and positioning, and precision agriculture. They also participate together in the Square Kilometer Array Project. The complete satellite assembly integration and test center built by Egypt with China’s help has laid solid foundations for Egypt’s aerospace industry. China also assisted Algeria and Sudan to launch their first artificial satellites.
– Expanding collaboration in eco-environmental protection and jointly responding to climate change. The peoples of China and Africa share a common yearning for a beautiful environment and a better life. As a result, they work together to advocate green, low-carbon, recyclable and sustainable development and safeguard the common homeland of humanity. Since 2012, they have co-organized a seminar on green cooperation guiding the future economy and a ministerial conference on China-Africa environmental cooperation, promoting communication and coordination of environmental governance policies. The China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center began operations in 2020 with the participation of China and African countries, as well as other international organizations, research institutions, and enterprises. As of September 2021, related institutions in seven African countries, including Angola and Kenya, have joined the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road, devised to contribute to the green development of the Belt and Road Initiative. China has carried out South-South cooperation on tackling climate change, and to date has signed 15 cooperation agreements with 14 African countries. Various approaches have been explored in support of Africa’s response to the issue, such as implementing mitigation and adaptation programs, jointly setting up pilot low-carbon industrial parks, and conducting training in capacity-building. For example, the Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite-1, or ETRSS-1, launched with Chinese help, is one of the fruits of China’s first remote sensing satellite cooperation with Africa. China and Africa crack down together on transnational organized crimes related to endangered wildlife trafficking, through intelligence sharing in environmental protection laws and regulations and helping each other to build capacity in law enforcement. While implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and dealing with other related affairs, China strengthens communication and coordination with African countries, in an endeavor to protect and ensure the sustainable exploitation of global wild fauna and flora.
4. People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges
As an old Chinese saying goes, “State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples.” China and African countries have embraced further exchanges in culture, media, science and technology, and think tanks, and facilitated dialogues among youth and women. These efforts have promoted people-to-people bonds and laid solid foundations for further developments.
– Expanding exchanges and cooperation in the cultural sector and tourism. The two sides continue to sign implementation plans for intergovernmental agreements on signature programs such as the Year of China, the Year of Culture, Happy Spring Festival, Chinese and African Cultures in Focus, and Insight on China, further enhancing cultural exchanges and cooperation. As of December 2020, 346 such implementation plans had been inked and carried out. From 2013 to 2020, Chinese art troupes made 140 visits to Africa to hold performances. Since 2013, art troupes from 28 African countries have been invited to perform in China. Since 2016, China has held hundreds of cultural seminars for African countries, with nearly 1,500 African participants in total. Chinese cultural centers have been set up in Mauritius, Benin, Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania and Morocco. The Chinese Government has signed documents with counterparts in Tunisia, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ethiopia and Mozambique on establishing Chinese cultural centers in these countries or their cultural centers in China. To date China has signed bilateral documents on cooperation in tourism with 31 African countries. It has listed 34 African countries as outbound group tour destinations for its citizens, and officially launched group tourism businesses for its people with 22 African countries.
– Working on closer cooperation in the press, the media, and film and television. China and Africa continue to strengthen dialogue and exchanges on furthering news cooperation, managing cyberspace, and handling media relations. To this end, exchange events have been held such as the China-Africa Media Summit and the Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation. Thirty African media outlets have joined the Belt and Road News Alliance, and 42 African countries have participated in the Belt and Road Media Community Summit Forum. China supports the development of the African radio, film and television industries. This can be seen from the effort to provide satellite TV reception to 10,000 African villages, and to support outdoor screening activities – the Caravan program – in rural areas and remote suburbs, covering more than 70 villages and regions in 12 countries. China and Africa encourage joint development and production of more works that tell stories about Africa and China-Africa friendship. Chinese companies provide program resources in 11 languages on more than 600 channels for 13 million African users. In recent years, China has carried out multilingual translations of about 200 outstanding Chinese audiovisual works for Africa and held Chinese film screenings and exhibitions in more than 10 African countries. Each year, a number of African films are screened at Chinese film festivals as well.
– Encouraging academic exchanges and cooperation among think tanks. China and Africa support various forms of cooperation among academic research institutions, think tanks and universities in carrying out subject research, academic exchanges and publication of works. Support is given to sharing research and achievements, especially on topics such as state governance, development paths, industrial capacity cooperation, culture, and law. Both sides have also been working on enhancing research strengths. More than 80 think tanks and academic research institutions have participated in the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan. The Fifth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC held in 2012 proposed to implement the China-Africa Think Tanks 10+10 Partnership Plan for long-term paired cooperation. In April 2019, China-Africa Institute was established in Beijing.
– Increasing non-governmental exchanges. China and African countries have actively implemented the Proposals on China-Africa People-to-People Exchanges and Cooperation, the China-Africa People-to-People Friendship Action, the Silk Road Community Building Program, and the China-Africa People-to-People Friendship and Partnership Program. They support trade unions, other non-governmental organizations and social groups in engaging in exchanges. Since 2011, the two sides have held six China-Africa People’s Forums. In addition, five China-Africa Young Leaders Forums, four Asian-African Youth Festivals and three China-Africa Youth Galas have been held since 2012. The 1st China-Africa Future Leaders’ Dialogue was held in 2021. As of 2020, the Chinese Government has dispatched 484 young volunteers to 16 African countries. It has established contacts and exchanges with more than 100 women’s organizations in 53 African countries. Centers dedicated to friendly exchanges or training among women have been established in Mauritius, Lesotho, Djibouti, Zimbabwe and Sudan.
5. Cooperation on Peace and Security
Without security and stability, there can be no development. As a constructive participant in peace and security affairs in Africa, China has always championed the principle of African people solving African issues in their own ways, and advocated the need to address root causes as well as symptoms and seek cooperation for the benefit of all parties. It supports the right of African countries and the AU to play a leading role in the region’s peace and security affairs. China supports their efforts to promote peace and stability and fight against terrorism. China endorses the “Silence the Guns in Africa” initiative in countries and regional organizations such as the AU. China will continue to support the UN in providing financial support for the AU’s independent peacekeeping operations. Based on the principles of respecting the will of African countries, not interfering in African countries’ internal affairs, and observing the basic norms governing international relations, China is actively exploring constructive participation in promoting and maintaining peace and security in Africa.
China and Africa continue to expand exchanges and hold dialogues in the field of peace and security. Since 2019, China has co-hosted or hosted the Dialogue on the Implementation of China-Africa Peace and Security Initiative, the First China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, and the Video Conference on Military Medicine under the forum. It has also actively participated in important conferences or forums held by African countries in related fields. The Chinese Government’s Special Representative for African Affairs has actively engaged in mediation efforts in Africa, and played a unique and constructive role in Africa’s peace and security endeavors. Through various means such as port calls and joint exercises and training, China has provided strong support to African countries in strengthening national defense and the armed forces, and to countries in the Sahel region and those bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea in upholding security and combating terrorism in their regions. China has launched assistance programs and helped train African military personnel under the Belt and Road Initiative, and in areas of law and order, UN peacekeeping missions, fighting piracy and combating terrorism. China supports the UN in playing an important role in maintaining peace and stability in Africa. Among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has sent the largest number of peacekeepers to the continent.
Since China first took part in UN peacekeeping operations in 1990, more than 80 percent of its peacekeepers have been deployed in Africa. Over 30,000 Chinese peacekeepers have been sent to Africa to perform tasks in 17 peacekeeping mission areas. More than 1,800 peacekeepers are currently performing missions in five of these areas – Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC), Abyei, South Sudan and Western Sahara. In accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, the PLA Navy has deployed regular convoys in the Gulf of Aden since 2008. To date it has dispatched 39 escort taskforces, providing protection to approximately 7,000 Chinese and foreign vessels in about 1,400 groups. China also decided to donate 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to UN peacekeepers, with priority given to those in African mission areas. As of August 2020, a total of 11 Chinese military peacekeepers had sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of peace in Africa.
China and Africa embrace the expansion of orderly personnel exchanges. They have worked on consular cooperation, increased cooperation between law enforcement departments, and acted against various cross-border crimes. In 2019 Chinese citizens made 607,000 visits to the African continent, while the number of African visitors to China reached 685,000. Growth in personnel exchanges promotes the rapid development of consular relations. In terms of strengthening law enforcement capacity in African countries, since 2018 China has trained over 2,000 African law enforcement officers and provided police supplies. It has dispatched peacekeeping police to African mission areas under the aegis of the UN, and collaborated in dealing with criminal cases, intelligence exchanges, experience-sharing and joint operations under the framework of Interpol.
III. Strengthening Mutual Support
Friendly relations between the PRC and Africa have endured through more than half a century and withstood the test of time. The two sides have always stood firmly together at critical junctures and on major issues. African countries have provided important support for China’s endeavors to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests, promote reunification, and achieve national rejuvenation through development. China has firmly supported African countries in realizing national independence, following development paths that fit their national conditions, promoting regional integration, and strengthening themselves through unity. China and Africa have joined forces in confronting the grave challenge posed by Covid-19, further reinforcing their friendship. The solidarity between the Chinese and African peoples enables them to overcome difficulties and obstacles and build a bright future.
1. Upholding International Equity and Justice
China and Africa are important partners in advancing the reform of the global governance system and the reshaping of the international order. Fifty years ago, at its 26th Session, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 by an overwhelming majority, restoring the lawful seat of the PRC in the United Nations. Since then, China has played a role of growing importance on the international stage. Among the 76 votes in favor of the resolution, 26 were cast by African countries, while 11 of the 23 sponsors of the draft resolution were from Africa. In the current complex and volatile international situation, China and Africa are jointly advancing multilateralism. They unequivocally oppose protectionism and unilateralism, support each other on issues involving the core interests and major concerns of either side, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. The theory and practice of China-Africa cooperation provide examples for developing countries in handling international affairs, and important references to the reform of the global governance system.
– Practicing true multilateralism. Holding high the banner of multilateralism, China and Africa steadfastly support the international system with the United Nations at the core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The two sides earnestly maintain international fairness and justice and push the international order in a fairer and more reasonable direction. They reject unilateralism and protectionism, and safeguard an open world economy and the multilateral trade system. China and Africa firmly support an increase in the representation and say of developing countries in the international governance system, especially African countries. When casting its vote in the United Nations, China always stands for developing countries.
– Jointly safeguarding legitimate rights. China and Africa understand and support each other on major issues such as those related to their sovereignty, territorial integrity, national dignity, and development interests. All African countries with diplomatic ties with China strictly abide by the one-China principle and firmly support China’s reunification. China steadfastly supports African countries in safeguarding sovereignty and independence, calls on the international community to assist African countries in safeguarding their right to subsistence and development, objects to any form of racism and racial discrimination, and actively pushes for the lifting of unreasonable unilateral sanctions against African countries.
Within the Security Council, China and three African members have established a “1 + 3” consultation mechanism to exchange views on and coordinate responses to major international and regional issues. Since 2017 while holding the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, China has initiated open debates on “Enhancing African Capacities in Peace and Security”, “Peace and Security in Africa: Strengthening Peacekeeping Operations in Africa”, “Peace and Security in Africa: Countering Terrorism and Extremism in Africa”, and “Peace and Security in Africa: Addressing Root Causes of Conflict in Post-pandemic Recovery in Africa”. These have pushed the international community to strengthen unity and cooperation and provide stronger support for Africa’s lasting peace.
China and Africa have both proposed that the rights to subsistence and development are seen as the primary and basic human rights, that equal importance is attached to all human rights, that exchanges and cooperation on human rights are carried out on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and that individual countries’ right in choosing their development paths is respected. They both oppose politicization of human right issues and double standards, and object to interference in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of championing human rights.
In response to Western anti-China forces’ mudslinging and false accusations on China in regard to Xinjiang- and Hong Kong-related issues, African countries, alongside other developing countries, have voiced their collective or individual support for China’s position, at the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee, commonly referred to as the “Third Committee.” African countries agree with China’s human rights principles, and support the resolution on the contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights and the resolution on promoting win-win cooperation in the field of human rights proposed by China at the Human Rights Council.
China calls on the international community to press forward with reform of global economic governance and offer concrete support for Africa’s development. During the G20 Hangzhou Summit, at the initiation of China, a G20 Initiative in Support of Industrialization of Africa and Other Least Developed Countries was issued. In 2015, China announced the establishment of a China-UN Peace and Development Fund. Between 2016 and 2020, its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Sub-Fund sponsored 34 projects in fields such as poverty alleviation, health, energy access, technology innovation, and infrastructure, with African countries being the major beneficiaries. In May 2021, China and Africa launched the Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development together. The two sides share the view that supporting the development of Africa is the consensus and shared responsibility of the international community.
China calls on international partners to increase support to Africa in such areas as response to Covid-19 and other pandemics and post-Covid reconstruction, and to pool resources in those areas where Africa’s most urgent needs lie, with a view to providing greater impetus to Africa’s development.
2. Jointly Combating Covid-19
Confronted by Covid-19, China and Africa have withstood a severe challenge, helping each other and fighting side by side to defeat the pandemic through solidarity and cooperation.
In June 2020, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19 was held via video link, making China the first country in the world to convene an anti-pandemic summit with Africa. It has provided a guide for international anti-pandemic cooperation with Africa, and injected new impetus into global anti-pandemic cooperation. At the summit, President Xi elaborated on important policies on advancing China-Africa cooperation and strengthening international cooperation amid the pandemic. He called for the accelerated implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, with greater priority to be given to cooperation in the areas of public health, economic reopening, and people’s livelihoods. He also announced a series of measures regarding anti-pandemic assistance to Africa, debt relief, debt service suspension, and economic reopening, which have been highly praised and widely welcomed in Africa. Participating leaders issued the Joint Statement of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19, agreeing to join forces in resolutely fighting the pandemic, pressing for cooperation, practicing multilateralism, and enhancing friendship. Since the summit the two sides have closely worked together on pandemic prevention and control, resuming economic activity, and restoring and progressing China-Africa cooperation.
During the toughest times in China’s fight against the epidemic, African countries and regional organizations such as the AU rendered strong support and assistance to China through various means. In February 2020, the Executive Council of the AU issued a communiqué in support of China’s anti-epidemic efforts – the first time an important regional organization and an entire continent had offered China such support. Those expressing their support and sympathy also included the heads of state of 48 African countries, heads of government of 11 countries, 12 speakers of legislative bodies, and the chairperson of the AU Commission, who all sent letters or telegrams. The governments of 10 countries issued statements; foreign ministers of 18 countries sent letters; and participants of an AU Peace and Security Council meeting, an emergency meeting of African health ministers and other meetings of major regional organizations also expressed sympathy. Though few African countries are wealthy, they still actively donated money and supplies to China, and some African students studying in China also joined the local fight against the epidemic.
After Covid-19 struck Africa, China immediately offered humanitarian assistance, the largest such program in scale and the most difficult to implement since the founding of the PRC. Since 2020, in coordination with local governments, enterprises and social organizations, the Central Government of China has provided emergency anti-pandemic supplies – including 120 batches of nucleic test reagents, protective gear, masks, eye protectors and ventilators – to 53 African countries and the AU based on their respective needs, with these emergency supplies reaching almost all areas across the continent. China has also actively shared its anti-epidemic experience with African countries, and dispatched anti-epidemic medical expert groups or short-term anti-epidemic medical teams to 17 African countries to fight the epidemic alongside local people. It also pushed for the earlier start of the construction of the headquarters of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), a project assisted by China.
China actively honors its commitment to make vaccines a global public good. At the time when Chinese vaccines had just reached the market and domestic supply was tight, China began to supply vaccines to Africa in support of its battle against the pandemic. By November 12, 2021, China had provided over 1.7 billon doses of Covid-19 vaccine to more than 110 countries and organizations, including 50 African countries and the AU Commission, and is striving to provide a total of 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. In addition to donating $100 million to COVAX, China will donate 100 million doses of vaccine to developing countries including those in Africa. Chinese firms are actively engaging in joint vaccine production in Africa with local firms, helping countries, in accordance with their wishes, to realize localized vaccine production. To date they have started localized production in Egypt, and signed cooperative agreements with Morocco and Algeria.
To help African countries cope with the pandemic and overcome temporary difficulties, China supports the effort to reduce the debt burden on African countries, and is actively implementing the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). Among G20 members, China ranks first in terms of the amount of deferred debt, having signed debt service suspension agreements or reached consensus with 19 African countries. China supports extending the DSSI till the end of 2021, and is working with relevant members to implement the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative. For countries experiencing a very serious epidemic situation and under particularly severe pressure, China, together with other stakeholders, will provide support on a case-by-case basis.
3. Winning the Battle against Ebola Together
In 2014, Ebola broke out in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. At a time when African people were in difficulties, China offered a helping hand, setting an example for the international community. China was the first to aid Guinea and Sierra Leone, and was the only country to provide laboratories to the epidemic-hit areas in West Africa and set up observation and treatment centers there. China provided rapid, practical and comprehensive anti-Ebola assistance to a total value of RMB750 million, and dispatched nine chartered planes to transport supplies and personnel. It sent more than 1,200 clinical and public health experts to Africa to combat Ebola alongside local medical workers. Chinese medical workers trained some 13,000 local medical workers. China also helped Ebola-stricken countries to build laboratories and treatment centers. Those assistance programs constituted the largest at the time among China’s overseas assistance programs in response to public crises in terms of duration, coverage, scale and intensity. Chinese diplomats, medical teams, peacekeepers, and corporate employees chose to stay in Africa rather than evacuate. They managed to overcome their own fear of the epidemic, and thereby gave confidence to local people as well. Chinese and Africans confronted the disaster with sincere friendship, sharing weal and woe.
In 2018, when Ebola broke out again in the DRC, China provided timely emergency humanitarian aid including supplies, money, experts, medicine and training to the country and its neighboring countries including Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, as well as the AU, helping them to promptly contain the epidemic.
4. Jointly Coping with Natural Disasters
China has always attached importance to disaster relief in Africa, helping it to respond to various natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and providing emergency humanitarian assistance through multilateral organizations such as the UN, the World Food Programme, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Chinese people will not forget that in 2008 when China was struck by a devastating earthquake, Equatorial Guinea, a country with only 2 million people, donated 2 million euros, averaging 1 euro per person. The Republic of the Congo donated $1 million after the Wenchuan earthquake, and $2 million for building a primary school after the Yushu earthquake.
In return, China has carried out programs in fields such as food, water supply, women and children’s health, and education in 40-plus disaster-stricken African countries, benefiting more than 10 million people, and strongly boosting their economic recovery and social development.
In 2019, cyclone Idai swept across Southeast Africa. China provided emergency humanitarian supplies to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, and dispatched an international rescue team of 65 members to the severely-stricken Mozambique, treating more than 3,000 locals. At the end of 2019, locusts plagued the Horn of Africa, threatening the livelihoods of more than 30 million people. In early 2020, though hit by Covid-19, China still provided locust-eradication emergency supplies and aid to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, and allocated funds from the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund to assist the three countries to buy prevention and control supplies and carry on capacity building activities.
IV. Breaking New Ground in China-Africa Relations
Currently, the global governance system and the international order are changing at an accelerating rate, and the international balance of power is undergoing a profound adjustment. Covid-19 further shows that the fates of all countries in the world are interconnected. Standing at a historical crossroads, China and Africa need to further consolidate their partnership, and build a China-Africa community of shared future in the new era. The two sides will steadfastly reinforce their traditional friendship, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, and safeguard common interests. They will continue to set the pace of cooperation through FOCAC, support the Belt and Road Initiative, bring the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to a higher level, and deliver a brighter future together.
1. Boosting Cooperation Through FOCAC
At the initiative of both China and African countries, FOCAC was inaugurated at its first Ministerial Conference in Beijing in October 2000, with the goals of responding to the challenges emerging from economic globalization, and seeking common development. Over the past two decades, FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue between China and Africa and an effective mechanism for pragmatic cooperation. It has turned into a pacesetter for international cooperation with Africa in the new era.
FOCAC now has 55 members comprising China, the 53 African countries that have diplomatic relations with China, and the AU Commission. The FOCAC Ministerial Conference is held once every three years, rotating between China and African countries and co-chaired by China and an African hosting country, with the co-chairs also taking the lead in implementing conference outcomes. Based on mutual agreements, some of the ministerial conferences have been upgraded into summits. To date three summits (the Beijing Summit in November 2006, the Johannesburg Summit in December 2015, and the Beijing Summit in September 2018) and seven ministerial conferences have been convened. These have yielded rich fruits, releasing a series of important documents to guide cooperation, and promoting the implementation of a series of major measures to facilitate development in Africa and solidify China-Africa friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.
At the end of November 2021, FOCAC will meet in African co-chair country Senegal. The meeting will evaluate the implementation of the outcomes of the 2018 Beijing Summit, and make plans for friendly cooperation in the next phase. This will be an important diplomatic event for China and Africa to discuss cooperation plans and promote common development, and will be of great importance in promoting post-pandemic economic recovery and development in Africa, China and the world at large. China will work closely with Africa to align China’s Second Centenary Goal of building a great modern socialist country by the middle of the century with the AU’s Agenda 2063. Together the two sides will plan and discuss the outcomes to be adopted at this FOCAC meeting regarding such key areas as health, investment and trade, industrialization, agricultural modernization, climate change responses and digital economy, and both will make every effort to produce a meeting that will build new consensus, explore new fields of cooperation, and be of benefit to both the Chinese and African peoples.
2. Promoting Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative
As part of the history of the Belt and Road, Africa is a natural partner of the initiative. In the past, the Maritime Silk Road brought Chinese tea, porcelain and development experience to Africa, promoting friendship and mutual learning, and it was thus recorded in history as a road of friendship. Since its inception, the new initiative has earned active support and participation from African countries. The cooperation between China and Africa under the initiative has a bright future.
The Belt and Road Initiative is not a “solo”, but an “orchestra” in which the participation of both China and African countries is essential. In December 2015, South Africa became the first African country to sign an agreement on cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative. Leaders of Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti and Mozambique participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017 and 2019, contributing to the initiative’s cooperative mechanism. At the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, China and Africa agreed to strengthen China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. To date, almost all African countries with diplomatic ties with China have already signed agreements on cooperation under the initiative. China and the AU Commission signed the Cooperation Plan on Jointly Promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the Government of the PRC and the African Union, the first agreement of its kind signed between China and a regional organization.
In recent years, connectivity between China and Africa under the Belt and Road Initiative has also expanded at a faster pace. A number of transport infrastructure projects have been completed and opened to traffic, including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya, No. 1 National Highway of the Republic of the Congo, the Thies-Touba highway in Senegal, the Port Gentil-Omboue coastal road and the Booué Bridge in Gabon, and the first and second phases of the Nigeria Railway Modernization Project. Projects such as the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port in Djibouti and the Lome Container Terminal in Togo have been successful in increasing entrepot trade. These projects have played an important role in boosting regional connectivity and integration. To date China has signed civil aviation transport agreements with 21 African countries, bilateral airworthiness agreements with 12 African countries, and bilateral intergovernmental marine shipping agreements with eight African countries.
Currently, both China and Africa have entered a new development stage. China is promoting a new development paradigm with domestic economy and international engagement providing mutual reinforcement, and the former as the mainstay. China’s development will create more opportunities for Africa’s development. With the official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Africa’s economic integration is accelerating, providing more room for growth in China-Africa cooperation. The two sides will focus on boosting quality development and further align the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative with those of the AU’s Agenda 2063, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the development strategies of individual African countries. They will build the Belt and Road into a road to peace, prosperity, openness, green development, innovation and cultural exchanges, and create a China-Africa community of shared future in the new era.
3. Raising China-Africa Relations to a New Level
The key to the vitality of China-Africa relations is keeping abreast of the times and developing and innovating relationships. For more than half a century, at every critical juncture, the two sides have employed far-sighted vision and always succeeded in finding new common ground and growth drivers. At this new historical starting point, under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Foreign Affairs, China will adhere to the principles of sincerity, affinity, good faith and practical results, uphold the values of shared interests and the greater good, and work together with African countries to advance high-quality cooperation and build a China-Africa community of shared future.
– Laying a solid foundation for friendship and raising mutual political trust to a new level. China and Africa will maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, expand friendly cooperation between political parties, legislative bodies, political advisory bodies, and local governments of the two sides. They will share governance ideas and development experience, and reinforce strategic communication and mutual trust. They will give full play to the positive role of think tanks, media, institutions of higher learning and non-governmental organizations, create a new model of multi-dimensional, multi-level and all-round cultural exchanges, strengthen people-to-people connectivity, and reinforce the traditional unbreakable China-Africa friendship.
– Combating Covid-19 and building a China-Africa community of health for all. China will continue to provide anti-pandemic assistance to African countries, share its experience in coordinating routine epidemic prevention and control with social and economic development, and speed up cooperation with Africa on vaccines. China-Africa health cooperation is not a short-term measure, but a long-term and far-sighted strategy. It focuses on assisting Africa to improve its public health system and its capacity for controlling and preventing major communicable diseases, so as to promote a China-Africa community of health for all in the new era.
– Boosting common development and nurturing new drivers for expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. As China and Africa enter their new stages of development, the advantages of their complementarity have become more obvious and their mutually beneficial cooperation is marked by higher quality, greater impact, and brighter prospects. The two sides will actively support their respective businesses to tap cooperation potential, nurture new growth drivers such as e-commerce, 5G network and green economy, and expand cooperation in future-oriented key fields. They will support the Global Development Initiative and a global community of shared development, so as to achieve high-quality and sustainable common development to the benefit of the Chinese and African peoples.
– Promoting closer international cooperation to establish a fairer and more equitable international order. China and Africa are important forces in safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and in promoting world peace and development. The two sides will further strengthen strategic communication and coordination on international affairs, and firmly safeguard the democratization of international relations. They will make concerted efforts to tackle common challenges facing humanity by fighting epidemics, alleviating poverty, combating terrorism, and dealing with climate change. They will work together to uphold true multilateralism, the common interests of developing countries, the international system with the United Nations at the core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
China has eliminated the historical problem of absolute poverty, and achieved moderate prosperity in all respects. It has embarked on a new journey toward building China into a modern socialist country by the time the PRC celebrates its centenary in 2049.
Africa is experiencing a flowing tide of solidarity and self-strengthening, and the continent’s influence in international affairs continues to grow. It is now forging ahead with the development of free trade zones, accelerating industrialization and modernization, and heading towards the bright future envisioned in the AU’s Agenda 2063.
The world is going through profound change of a scale unseen in a century. In the face of new opportunities and challenges, China and Africa will further strengthen solidarity and cooperation. China will continue its steadfast support for African countries in pursuing the development paths fitting their respective national conditions, promoting Africa integration, and safeguarding their sovereignty, security and development interests.
China will work together with African countries to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, and bring more gains to the Chinese and African peoples, thus making a greater contribution to lasting world peace and prosperity, and to a global community of shared future.
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