This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. A series of events has strengthened the ties. Earlier this year, the Chinese government issued China's African policy and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, following tradition, made Africa the destination of his first foreign tour this year. In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited three African countries. In November, China will host the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, viz. the 3rd Ministerial Conference.
Friendship with Africa has always been one of the traditional focuses of Chinese diplomacy. Under the new situation, strengthening contacts and cooperation is in line with the common aspiration and choices of both sides, as well as the trend of enhancing international cooperation under the backdrop of economic globalization. The aim of Sino-African cooperation is to draw on each other's advantages and achieve win-win results, which has been welcomed by people from both sides and acclaimed by the international community.
However, there are always some people who are used to looking upon the relations through colored spectacles. From time to time they make irresponsible remarks on China-Africa cooperation, declaring that China is "the major challenge to Africa in future"; that China will take away employment opportunities from the Africans if entrusted with African projects; that China "supports tyranny" and "plunders resources" in the continent, etc. These remarks, if out of ulterior motives rather than ignorance, should be treated seriously.
It is well known that China and Africa have enjoyed long-term friendship that has taken root within the peoples of both sides. Historically, both China and Africa are birthplaces of world civilizations, and exchanges between them have helped promote the integration of the world civilizations. In modern time, China and Africa showed sympathy and support for each other in the struggle for national independence and construction, and developed a profound friendship. The world-famous Tanzania-Zambia Railway, for example, witnessed the friendly cooperation between China and Africa. In order to build this "road of freedom", China dispatched 50,000 engineers and technicians to Africa who were working shoulder to shoulder with their African colleagues, among which 64 lost their precious lives there and buried on the land of Africa.
In the new century, Sino-African friendship and cooperation has seen successive innovations. The China-Africa Cooperation Forum established in 2000 has become an effective mechanism for collective dialogue between the two sides as well as an important platform to carry out pragmatic cooperation. Within the framework of the forum, China has remitted more than 10 billion yuan of debt for 31 African countries and imposed zero tariffs on 29 least developed countries covering 190 export commodities. China has trained about 10,000 persons in all fields for African countries and chosen 16 African countries as destinations for outbound Chinese tourists. China also sent youth volunteers to African countries. In September 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao brought up five major points in helping developing countries to accelerate their development in the next three years. African countries will be the main beneficiaries.
In the over six years after the China-Africa Cooperation Forum was opened, leaders of the two sides have exchanged over 180 visits, among which African leaders visited China for more than 140 times. The trade volume between China and Africa has increased from $10.5 billion to over $39.7 billion in 2005, among which, China reported a trade deficit of $2.43 billion. By 2005, China' direct investment to Africa exceeded $1.18 billion. The number of Chinese enterprises in Africa hit 810. There are more and more Africans coming to China to do business here.
Chinese government clearly stressed that China is committed to establishing and developing a new strategic partnership with African countries with political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win and cultural exchange. China will continue to expand and deepen Sino-African friendly cooperation in the light of the principles of sincere friendship, equal treatment, mutual benefit, common prosperity, mutual support, close cooperation, mutual studying and seeking for common development. China believes that Sino-African friendly cooperation reflects mutual assistance among developing countries. China has been bearing in mind the long-standing support of African countries to China and will continue to regard Africa as a good friend, a good partner, and a good brother. African countries believe that China's development is an opportunity for Africa. Chinese goods, services and construction projects are real bargains for Africa which not only meet the needs of African production, livelihood, and development but also reduce the costs for Africa and save valuable resources for the African countries.
Of course, there will be some trade frictions occurring during the economic and trade cooperation. Concerning these issues, both sides have expressed their willingness to give the priority to the overall situation and resolve the differences in accordance with long-term interests of both sides and through equal negotiation and mutual understanding. China and Africa also believe that Sino-African friendly cooperation is in line with the common interests of both parties and does not pose any threat to any third party. In a spirit of opening and cooperation, China is willing to join hands with the international community to promote peace, stability and development in Africa. China hopes that some countries and persons can take off their colored glasses and look upon the Sino-African relations with a normal and peaceful mentality.
By People's Daily Online