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Opinion

Quality upgrade for a closer community of shared future between China and Africa

Source: CGTN 2018-09-07

 

Editor's note: The article is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs" and originally published on CRI.

At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China's President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech "Work Together for Common Development and a Shared Future." 

In the speech, President Xi proposed that over the next three years and beyond, China will implement eight major initiatives in fields such as industrial development, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchanges, peace, and security in order to bring the futures of China and Africa closer together. 

These eight initiatives represent China's blueprint for the development of China-Africa relations.

Since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, the volume of trade between China and Africa has increased 17 fold, and China's investment in Africa has increased by more than 100 fold. 

This reflects the truth behind the observation that President Xi made when he visited Africa five years ago when he said that China and Africa have a shared future as a result of their common historical experience, development needs, and strategic interests.

At present, China is accelerating its policy of Reform and Opening Up in order to achieve the development goals set by the Communist Party of China at its 19th National Congress. The African Union has its own development plan for Africa's industrial development, diversification, and integration, called "Agenda 2063." 

But since those two development agendas were developed, the world has found itself facing the emerging challenges of protectionism and unilateralism, which leads to instability and uncertainty along the road to development. 

In this context, China, as the world's largest developing country, and Africa, as the most concentrated grouping of developing countries, share a strong desire and need to strengthen bilateral cooperation. 

They have a shared sense of responsibility to work together to safeguard global free trade and multilateralism.

In his speech at the summit, President Xi put a particular emphasis on the "five nos" principle that applies to China's cooperation with Africa. China won't stand in the way of African countries as they explore a path towards development that is in line with their unique national conditions. 

China won't interfere in Africa's internal affairs. It won't impose its own will on others. It won't attach political conditions to its African aid programs. And it won't act out of political self-interest when it comes to investment and financing in Africa. 

This is and always has been China's position when it comes to cooperation with African countries, and it constitutes a code of conduct for building shared prosperity for China and Africa.

In order to help Africa achieve its development goals, President Xi said China is willing to provide 60 billion U.S. dollars of support through government assistance, financial institutions, and corporate investment. 

This funding will go towards three overarching areas of need. The first of these is the need to improve the basic living standards of African people by providing the continent with basic food security by 2030; upgrading health care services including maternity support and assistance for vulnerable children; implementing 50 cultural and sports tourism projects; and 50 security assistance projects.

The second area of need relates to enhancing Africa's ability to develop independently. The Chinese believe that the best way to help others is represented by the saying "teach people to fish instead of giving them fish." That is, it's important not only to provide material assistance but also to help the other side enhance its ability to develop independently. 

One of the "eight major initiatives" proposed by President Xi is capacity building, including providing vocational skills training to African youth and supporting the establishment of a China-Africa innovation cooperation center, independently.

The third area of need is to strengthen the linkages between development strategies. Over the last three years, ten major China-Africa cooperation plans have been successfully implemented with the help of matched funding. 

The new initiatives proposed by President Xi will build on this success in areas including industrial development, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, and green development. 

As part of this work, the Belt and Road Initiative will be aligned with the goals of the African Union's "Agenda 2063" and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the development strategies of individual African countries.

It is 18 years since the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was established. As Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba said, "both of us keep our promises to each other, which has led to the success of the relationships between China and African countries, which are sincere, direct, and full of trust and respect." 

Today, cooperation between China and Africa marked a new beginning: It was the start of a new era of peaceful and cooperative development.

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