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Ahead of FOCAC 2018 Beijing Summit…

Gambia, Two Others Join the Bandwagon

August 24, 2018

By Joseph S. Margai in Beijing

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Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi (centre) and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chen Xiaodong (left) at the briefing on Wednesday

The Gambia, Sao Tome& Principe and Burkina Faso, have become the latest countries to join the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), making it 53 African countries already in the tray.

At the moment, Swaziland, now called Eswatini, remains the only African country that has no diplomatic ties with China but Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chen Xiaodong, hopes that in the next three years, when FOCAC will be convened, all African countries will be part of cooperation.

At a presser held early on Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018, at the Blue Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Foreign Affairs Minister, Wang Yi, said these new member states will participate in the 2018 Beijing FOCAC summit.

He revealed that the summit will be chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping and co-chaired by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“In this summit, which is scheduled to take place in the first week of September, Chinese and African heads of state and government will discuss issues of industrialization, human development, environment protection, technological development, peace and security, livelihood, people-to-people exchange, among others,” he said.

He added that President Xi Jinping will make an announcement and commitment that will make Africans happy.

Minister Wang Yi also said spouses of African leaders including that of the Chinese president, will have a HIV summit on 4th September and some United Nations (UN) agencies will also be in attendance.

He revealed that the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki, will lead the delegation of African leaders to the Beijing 2018 FOCAC, noting that the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, will attend the summit as a special guest.

“China and Africa are bound by common interest and a successful summit will further strengthen solidarity between the two parties. We need to come together and usher in a new face of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an initiative that will go in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. We will open up new spaces for Africa’s development,” Minister Wang Yi said.

He revealed that a number of bilateral agreements, which will focus on industrialization and modernization of the African continent, will be signed during the summit.

He said there will be 14 side forums during the summit, recalling that since the inception of FOCAC 18 years ago, lots of progress has been made.

He noted that three years after the 2015 Johannesburg FOCAC summit in South Africa, 30 African heads of government have visited or held forums in China, adding that scholarships were provided for African students to study in China.

Responding to questions from the press, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chen Xiaodong, said after the 2018 Beijing summit, both parties are expecting bilateral or multilateral relations to be taken to a new height.

“We will adopt new measures for practical cooperation that will enhance the development of African countries. BRI cooperation document will be signed during this summit by African countries. More global development will be done in Africa,” he said.

In the 2015 Johannesburg summit, China announced US$60 billion support to African countries, in forms of loans, grants, aids, etc.

But when asked what China has planned to put on the table for Africa in the 2018 Beijing Summit, Chen Xiaodong said President Xi will give a keynote speech and will announce new measures for the next three years.

“China is determined to continue to give strong support to Africa’s development and will attach premium to the economic and social efficiency to our numerous projects,” he said.