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Reaping the rewards of 15 years of mutual cooperation

By PEI GUANGJIANG and ZHANG JIANBO (People's Daily Online)    10:20, November 30, 2015

In October 2000, China and 44 African countries launched the China-Africa Forum in Beijing, a platform for collective dialogue and pragmatic cooperation. The China- Africa Forum, an initiative for improving China-Africa relations, has elevated relations to new levels in the 21st century.

With support from top leaders on all sides, the China-Africa Forum has been vigorously active for 15 years. The Ministerial Conferences, held alternately every three years in China and Africa, consistently reach important consensus and cooperation that helps to push the development of China-Africa relations. Proposed plans at the China- Africa Forum, including assisting Africa’s development, have produced effective results. Agricultural technology demonstration centres, economic and trade cooperation zones, the China- Africa Development Fund and the African Union Conference Centre have become symbols of China-Africa cooperation.

The success of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China- Africa Cooperation in 2006, which attracted the heads of state and government from China and 48 African countries, proved the forum is widely recognised.

Relations between China and African countries have been vastly improved over the past 15 years. In January 2006, China ublished the African Policy Paper, the first paper the Chinese government had issued to an entire continent, and a reflection of the importance China places on China-Africa solidarity and cooperation. The paper expounds on the views of developing China-Africa relations, and stresses China’s determination to develop its friendship with

African countries. The paper also touches on China developing a new strategic partnership with African nations, namely building political equality and mutual trust, economic cooperation and strengthened exchanges in the field of culture.

Frequent high-level visits between China and African nations have built solid political foundations for bilateral relationships. After taking office in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first state visits to African nations. Xi summarised bilateral relationships to be characterised by sincerity, friendship, mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development. China’s foreign minister has visited the African continent every year since 1991. Top leaders of African countries visit China to further mutual understanding.

In recent years, the partnership between China and African countries has improved. For example, the partnership between China and SA was upgraded to a “strategic partnership” in 2004, then a “comprehensive strategic partnership” in 2010.

Cooperation between China and African countries has expanded over the past 15 years. The total volume of import and export trade between China and African countries exceeded $10bn in 2000, when the China- Africa Forum established, compared to $6.484bn in 1999. In 2008, trade volume between China and African countries exceeded $100bn for the first time, two years ahead of its projected goal. It continued to increase despite the financial crisis.

In 2013, trade volume between China and African countries exceeded $200bn.

China has been Africa’s number one trading partner since 2009. China-Africa trade accounted for 16.13% of the total foreign trade volume of Africa in 2012, increasing from 3.82% in 2010. Two-way investment between China and Africa has greatly increased and extended in scope. As of December 2000, 500 Chinese enterprises agreed to invest $997m in Africa. In 2003, more than 2,500 Chinese enterprises invested more than $25bn in sectors from raw material processing and industrial manufacturing to finance, trade, logistics and real estate.
China and Africa have also made remarkable strides in other fields. As of June 2015, more than 3,800km of railways and 4,334km of roads were built or under construction in Africa with Chinese financing. More than 200 schools were opened with assistance from China. The Chinese government provides more than 7,000 scholarships to African nations every school year and holds over 100 multilateral and bilateral technical and management training programmes as well as senior officials workshops for Africans each year.

In the past 15 years, China- Africa cooperation has helped African nations achieve rapid economic development and a rise in international status. Research

by the International Monetary Fund shows that China-Africa cooperation contributes to 20% of African economic development. Africa’s annual economic growth rate has exceeded 5% since 2000, making the continent one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.

The international community pays more attention to Africa and values its development opportunities. As a result, major countries and regions have also strengthened their cooperation with the continent, further raising its status in the international community.

The past 15 years of cooperation between China and Africa embodies a collective dialogue that benefits mutual development and prosperity.

(The story was originally published on Business Day on December 2nd, 2015.) 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Wu Chengliang)

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