December 7, 2015 By Zhao Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone
In a couple of day’s time, the warmly-expected and long-awaited Summit of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and 6th Ministerial Meeting are slated to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa. This Sino-African Summit, being the second of its kind following Beijing Summit, is to be held for the first time ever in the African continent. The convocation of this Summit is of mile-stone significance guiding the future development of Sino-African relations, sending to the rest of the world a strong message of China and Africa working together for win-win cooperation and common development and open up a new prospect of development to people in China, Africa and beyond. It is hoped that the Summit will strengthen the confidence of the international community and bring more input to Africa.
President Xi Jinping will co-chair the plenary conference with South African President Jacob Zuma, take part in economic and trade discussions and meet with national leaders. A total of 36 national leaders, five government heads, three vice premiers and African Union chairmen have applied to attend the event. And President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, outlining China’s new ideas, plans and initiatives for China-Africa cooperation, including industrial production shifts, infrastructure construction, human resource exploration, facilitating investment, green development, finance servicing, and peace and security. That an exhibition on equipment manufacturing will be held on the sidelines of the summit with a view to providing business opportunities in such fields as railway, aviation, electric power and telecommunications. In addition, political leaders and entrepreneurs will hold a dialogue. More agreements are expected during the summit. The summit will adopt the Declaration of Johannesburg and the Plan of Action to showcase the leaders’ strategic planning for future relations.
The theme of the Summit is “Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development”. China and Africa are always a community of shared destiny through thick and thin, as well as a community of shared interests through cooperation and mutual benefits. Unity and cooperation with African countries has always been a cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, the foundation of its foundation. During the struggle for national independence and liberation, the journey to peace and development, the Chinese people and African people always supported and closely cooperated with each other, forging brotherhood with a common destiny. China firmly supports Africa’s pursuit of strength through unity and its integration process. China-Africa cooperation injects positive energy into the development and renewal of Africa. China’s late leader Mao Zedong once said it was our African brothers who carried China into the United Nations. Since the outbreak of the deadly virus last year, China has delivered more than 750 million yuan (117 million U.S. dollars) worth of humanitarian aid and sent hundreds of medical workers to the front line in Ebola-stricken West Africa, with Sierra Leone inclusive. China’s all-out efforts in helping Ebola-inflicted African countries demonstrated China’s image as a responsible country and significantly fortified and developed the Sino-African friendship. China upholds a correct view of morality and interests in its cooperation with Africa and will continue to help African countries. And this stance will remain unchanged with China’s development and the elevation of China’s status in the world.
The philosophy of win-win cooperation is providing a powerful driving force boosting the Sino-African development, which serves as a paradigm of win-win cooperation among the developing countries. The total trade volume between China and Africa exceeds $220 billion, a rise of 22 fold of that in year 2000 when the FOCAC started. The Chinese government has rolled out about 900 assistance programs in Africa covering agriculture, health, education and other fields and offered training to over 30,000 local people since 2012. China has provided African countries with loans worth over 20 billion U.S. dollars since 2012 and will continue to provide financing support. China has invested over 30 billion US dollars in Africa, while over 3,000 Chinese companies are operating there. China also laid over 5,000 kilometers of rail in Africa by this September. Here, I wish to be emphatic that our collaboration with Africa is always a two-way track.In recent years the number of African businesses investing in China is on the rise, too. Statistics show cumulative investment in China by African entrepreneurs totaled 14.2 billion dollars in worth by the end of 2012. The share of China-Africa trade in Africa’s total foreign trade has increased from 3.82 percent to 20.5 percent.
As is known to all, we treat our African friends with truth, cooperate with Africa through practical ways, strengthen China-Africa relations with amity and solve problems with sincerity. China has always been a steadfast guardian of Africa’s peace and stability, a steadfast promoter of Africa’s prosperity and development, a steadfast supporter in Africa’s pursuit of strength through unity, and a steadfast advocate for Africa in its efforts to seek equal participation in international affairs. China will continue to help African countries strengthen their capabilities in self-reliant development, benefiting people of all African countries and truly achieving mutual benefit and win-win results with a priority being placed on helping Africa achieve self-development and create a peaceful and stable environment for long-term progress. Never does China attach political conditions to assistance, nor does it constrain or interfere in the domestic affairs of African countries, even less will China follow the beaten track of past major powers and sacrifice Africa’s environment and long-term interests.
Our long-standing traditional friendship and close interests relations are not the only reasons which bind China and Africa together. So do the Chinese dream and African dream. The Chinese people are working hard to realize the Chinese dream of great national renewal, while the African people are committed to the African dream as laid out in the Agenda 2063 by gaining strength through unity and achieving development and rejuvenation. The Chinese and African people should further unite, cooperate and support each other to make our dreams come true. The alignment between the comparative advantages of China in terms of growth experience and productive elements and that of Africa in the area of natural resources and market share will generate “one plus one bigger than two “effect.
Being a member of FOCAC, Sierra Leone, while actively involving itself in the various meetings and discussions within the frameworks, making its interventions and contributions to its ever-growing success, has benefited immensely from this mechanism. And this has added “wings” to Sierra Leone’s rapid economic development and expansion, as manifested in the fast-changing looks of the country with each passing day. Our bilateral collaboration in terms of agriculture, hydroelectric power, infrastructure as well as aid projects such as hospitals, buildings and roads has been fruitful and manifold. Our joint fight against the Ebola virus is just another love fair. Frequent crisscrossing of the people and ever-expanding close economic linkages speaks volumes for this good relations. At the invitation of H.E. President Xi Jinping, H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma will attend this important Summit, during which, they will have chance to meet and exchange views as to how best leverage our advantages and map out our bilateral future development blueprints.
President Xi avers that only the common prosperity is the genuine development and only a sustainable growth is a good growth. “The FOCAC platform provides an opportunity to further stimulate growth and unlock new opportunities between China and Africa on trade and other matters. It is envisaged that the Johannesburg Summit will elevate the Africa-China relationship to a new level that would have a beneficial impact and give impetus to Africa’s developmental agenda. China is willing to make joint efforts with all forum members to make the summit a grand gathering to strengthen China-Africa unity and the future of China-Africa cooperation.