The forthcoming Beijing Summit and the Third Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be an international conference at the highest level. More foreign leaders will attend this event than any other since the founding of New China and it will have a broad influence in the international community.
During the conference, Chinese and African leaders will review and summarize the course of friendship and cooperation over the last 50 years (since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and African countries), especially the achievements during the past six years following the first China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2000. They will make plans for future cooperation and discuss issues including bilateral relations, overall cooperation between China and Africa and matters of common interests. A new strategic partnership of political equality and trust, economic cooperation, and cultural exchange will be established. In particular, China will propose some important ideas and initiatives to strengthen Sino-African relations, and will give specific suggestions on how to help African countries accelerate economic development. The conference will promote Sino-African friendship and cooperation and be a milestone in the history of Sino-African relations.
China is the world's largest developing country and Africa is the world's largest developing continent. For half a century, political relations between China and Africa have developed steadily with great advances being made in economic and trade cooperation. China has diplomatic relations with 48 African countries. The bilateral volume of trade has increased from US$12 million in 1956 to nearly US$40 billion in 2005, and will exceed US$50 billion in 2006. China-Africa relations are at their strongest in history.
Several generations of Chinese leaders have dedicated themselves to the development of Sino-African relations and created practical and applicable Africa policies based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. This is why friendly Sino-African relations have been able to withstand changes to the international situation and continued to develop and blossom. In politics, China has always supported Africa's demands where they are just and reasonable and brought the attention of the international community to peace and development in Africa. They have encouraged African countries to participate in international affairs on an equal basis; in economics, China has made substantial economic contributions to African countries. Despite limited financial and material resources, China has helped African countries with more than 800 projects and played a very important role in promoting economic development, which has helped improve the lives of African people.
Sino-African political relations have been maturing since the beginning of the new century. The China-Africa Cooperation Forum, which was established in 2000, has become an effective mechanism and a practical platform for China-Africa collective dialogue. For six years, leaders and foreign ministers from China and African countries have visited one another more than 200 times, including 50 visits by Chinese leaders. To increase imports from Africa, the Chinese government imposes zero tariffs on 190 commodities sold to 30 of Africa's least developed countries. At the end of 2005, China's direct investment in Africa totaled US$1.6 billion. China has helped African countries train approximately 14,600 professionals and played a positive role in sustainable economic development.
For their part, African countries have always lent a helping hand to China at critical moments. It was with the support and help of the country's African brothers that China had its seat at the United Nations restored; defeated Taiwan's attempts to return to the United Nations and join the World Health Organization; rejected an anti-China draft proposed by western countries at a meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights; became a formal member of the WTO; won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games and the World Expo; pushed for a reform of the United Nations and more.
The 50-year relationship proves that China and Africa are good, sincere and trusting friends. They are equal partners; both benefit from solidarity and cooperation. They are intimate brothers standing in the same storm-tossed boat. This is the cornerstone of the ongoing development of Sino-African friendly relations.
By People's Daily Online; The author, Huang Zequan, is senior editor of People's Daily