The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has become a platform for the two sides to build friendship, coordinate cooperation strategies and deliberate development plans over the past 20 years.
The forum has become a big, friendly family within an improved system. All members play a leading role in organizing conferences and implementing the results of each FOCAC.
The realms of cooperation have expanded from economics and trade in the early years to more areas, such as cultural and educational exchanges, peace and security, and healthcare.
The forum has driven the bilateral and multilateral “wheels” of cooperation between China and the African continent as a whole, as well as between China and individual African nations.
Its membership is growing. In 2011, the African Union Commission joined the forum, which now has 54 members with a total population of 2.6 billion people, or one-third of the global population.
A record 50 heads of African states and governments attended the FOCAC’s 2018 Beijing Summit.
China-Africa ties have moved forward in three stages, from “new partnership” to “new strategic partnership” to “comprehensive strategic partnership”.
Over the past two decades, China and Africa have achieved fruitful results in cooperation that have supported the African continent, which has the largest number of developing countries in the world.
President Xi Jinping emphasized that the greatest “righteousness” of China-Africa relations is to use China’s growth to help Africa develop. The relationship has achieved mutual benefits, win-win outcomes and common development.
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years and has contributed to more than 20 percent of the continent’s economic growth rate.
China’s direct investment in Africa has reached US$49.1 billion, which is 100 times more than in 2000.
China has built over 6,000 kilometers of railroads and highways, nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power-generation stations throughout the continent.
Some infrastructure projects that China helped build, such as the African Union Conference Center, the Asia-Djibouti Railway and the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, have become icons of the bilateral cooperation.
The headquarters of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that China will help construct is also expected to be a flagship project of the cooperation.
China has helped to build over 130 healthcare facilities and more than 170 schools in Africa. It has also dispatched 21,000 medical teams to the continent.
China and Africa also develop their cooperation at the grassroots and rural levels, with China creating tens of thousands of jobs on the continent. China has won minds and hearts in Africa because the cooperation really improves African people’s lives.
Over the past 20 years, the FOCAC has set a benchmark for international cooperation with Africa and has made important contributions.
Many countries have followed in China’s footsteps by initiating forums on cooperation with Africa and increasing investment in the continent. Consequently, Africa’s global status has been enhanced.
The way the FOCAC is run and the values it upholds improve the environment for international cooperation with Africa. The forum fully embodies the spirit of mutual respect and fair consultation.
China follows a “five-nos” approach in its cooperation with Africa — no interference in the development paths of individual countries; no interference in their internal affairs; no imposition of China’s will; no attachment of political strings regarding assistance; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation.
China appreciated support from the African Union and African countries when it faced a tough time during its fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic.
The African Union was the first international organization to support China in its fight against COVID-19.
After the outbreak reached Africa, the two sides promptly changed their cooperation agenda. They took advantage of the forum’s resources to help Africa battle the epidemic, stabilize African economies and ensure African people’s safety.
China has promised that the vaccines it is developing will be made a global public good and provided to other developing countries on a priority basis. China has further extended debt relief to countries hit hard by the pandemic, in response to the G20’s initiative on debt relief for developing countries.
China and Africa now need to work out post-pandemic cooperation strategies.
It is necessary to deepen and strengthen cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, trade and investment under the framework of the forum. They also need to find new cooperation projects as China supports Africa in establishing a free trade zone and developing digital economies, e-commerce and 5G.
The just-concluded Fifth Plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China came up with specific economic and social development goals for the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) and long-term goals for up to 2035. This sends an important signal that China is entering a new stage of development, implementing new development mindsets and building a new development pattern.
The blueprint for China’s new journey to realize the Chinese dream is not only vital to the wellbeing of the 1.4 billion Chinese people, it also brings more opportunities to the rest of the world.
The author is China’s Ambassador to the African Union.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS