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Broad Prospects for the New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership

(People's Daily Online)

09:46, July 17, 2012

(File photo/ Chinese embassy in the United States)

Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun at the Seventh Lanting Forum

Diplomatic envoys,
Friends from the academic, business and media circles,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to speak at the Lanting Forum. The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in just a week, and mid-summer Beijing will embrace an exciting "African time". I am sure all those who care about and support China-Africa relations are eagerly looking forward to it. And I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss China-Africa relations with you in advance of the Ministerial Conference.

FOCAC was launched in October 2000. Since then, thanks to the strong commitment and careful nurturing of both sides, it has become an important platform for collective dialogue and effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa, and has greatly helped advance China-Africa relations. In particular, at the 2006 Beijing Summit, China and Africa decided to establish a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, thus turning a new page in China-Africa friendly cooperation.

The upcoming Ministerial Conference will be the first such conference in the second decade of FOCAC. It is of great significance for the continuation and further development of China-Africa relations, and has received high attention from both sides.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and several African leaders will attend the opening ceremony. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, the foreign and economic ministers of 50 African countries, and the Chairperson of the AU Commission will participate in the Conference.

Under the theme of "building on past achievements and opening up new prospects for the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership", the two sides aim to achieve the following objectives at the conference: first, to take stock of the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Fourth Ministerial Conference; second, to explore ways and means to deepen the new type of strategic partnership and further develop FOCAC; third, to identify the priority areas of and main measures for China-Africa cooperation in the next three years and formulate an action plan accordingly; and fourth, to exchange views on major regional and international issues to better safeguard and expand common interests.

In terms of conference outcomes, two documents will be released, i.e. the Beijing Declaration of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Action Plan (2013-2015).

At the opening ceremony of the conference, President Hu Jintao will announce, on behalf of the Chinese government, China's new measures to strengthen cooperation with Africa, which will cover such areas as investment, finance, assistance, African integration, peace and security, and people-to-people exchanges.

I am confident that with joint efforts from both sides, the conference will be a full success and will take the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership to a new level.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the beginning of the new century, especially after the establishment of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, China-Africa relations have been growing at an unprecedented pace and become a highlight in China's diplomacy. The relationship has demonstrated the following features.

First, China-Africa political relations have enjoyed all-round development. The past few years has been the most robust period for China-Africa high-level exchanges. President Hu Jintao visited Africa four times, which took him to 18 African countries. NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin, Comrade Li Changchun, Vice President Xi Jinping, Comrade He Guoqiang and Comrade Zhou Yongkang have all visited Africa. Many African leaders have come to visit China. From 2007 to 2011, about 30 African heads of state or government and 20 speakers of parliament paid visits to or attended important activities in China. Comprehensiveness is an important feature of China's relationship with Africa compared with some other countries. China never treats countries differently according to their sizes or wealth. The development of China-Africa relations in recent years is not the development of relations with just one, two or a few African countries. Rather, it has been the comprehensive development of our relations with all friendly African countries. In addition to the all-round growth of bilateral ties, China's relations with African regional organizations, the African Union in particular, have become a new bright spot in China-Africa relations. The AU Conference Center and Office Complex built by China was successfully completed at the beginning of the year. It demonstrates China's firm support to Africa in seeking strength through unity and stands as a symbol of China-Africa friendship in the new era.

Second, China-Africa practical cooperation has yielded fruitful results. Mutual benefit and common development is the most outstanding feature of China-Africa relations in the new era. At the FOCAC Beijing Summit, China announced eight measures to enhance practical cooperation with Africa. They were followed by eight additional measures announced at the Fourth Ministerial Conference. Thanks to the joint efforts from both sides, all these measures have been fully implemented. Since 2006, China's grant assistance, interest-free loans and preferential loans to Africa have increased steadily. It has trained more than 30,000 professionals in various sectors for Africa and offers 5,000-plus government scholarships annually. For three consecutive years since 2009, China has remained Africa's largest trading partner. In 2011, trade between China and Africa reached US$166.3 billion, an increase of 16 times from the 2000 level, with Africa running a trade surplus of US$20.1 billion. Tariff exemption and other measures adopted by China to boost African exports have begun to show effect. In 2010, 49 African countries saw increase in their exports to China. And between 2000 and 2011, African exports to China have been growing rapidly, from US$5.6 billion to US$93.2 billion. As of April this year, China's total direct investment in Africa reached US$15.3 billion, compared with less than US$500 million 10 years ago. More than 2,000 Chinese enterprises have invested or started businesses in 50 African countries. Despite the negative impact of the global financial crisis, China-Africa cooperation has shown robust growth. This has contributed to the recovery and development of not only the Chinese and African economies, but also the world economy as a whole.

Third, China-Africa cooperation on international and regional affairs has kept expanding.

For all its development, China has not forgotten where it has come from and always regards itself as a developing country. We stand firmly with African countries in their efforts to uphold sovereignty and dignity, explore development path independently and pursue strength through unity. China has intensified its engagement in Africa's peace and security affairs. We have maintained close communication and coordination with African countries at the UN Security Council, increased the number of Chinese peace-keepers to Africa, carried out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, appointed a Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, and actively engaged in the mediation of African hot-spot issues. On global issues such as the international financial crisis, climate change and WTO Doha Round negotiations, China and Africa have maintained close communication and coordination, and effectively safeguarded the common interests of developing countries. We deeply appreciate and are grateful for the continued, firm support from African countries on issues concerning China's core and major interests.

Fourth, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa have intensified. Thanks to the overall development of China-Africa relations, people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two sides have gone from strength to strength. Together, China and Africa have built a number of platforms to facilitate such exchanges, including the Chinese/African "Culture in Focus", Joint Research and Exchange Program, People's Forum and Think Tanks Forum. Each year, in addition to over 5,000 Chinese government scholarships, more than 10,000 African students are coming to study in China on their own. In 2000, there was only one regular flight between China and Africa every week. Today there are more than twenty. Eight African airline companies now operate direct fights to China. Some African friends have chosen to settle down or pursue their career in China. Some have even become sports or entertainment stars popular among the Chinese audience. Small and touching stories such as these enable us to feel the pulse of the growth of China-Africa relations, and constitute the real driving force behind the growth of our relationship.

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