FOCAC: Two decades of a shared journey toward new heights

Written By: Wang Yi
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Mr. Wang Yi is the People's Republic of China State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall who is the current African co-chair of FOCAC, have issued a joint congratulatory message to mark this important occasion.

20 years ago, China and our brothers in Africa decided to initiate FOCAC to promote win-win cooperation. Since then, the family of China and African nations has had its own platform for collective dialogue and mechanism for practical cooperation, ushering in a brand new chapter in China-Africa relations.

FOCAC has bolstered high-level interactions and political trust between China and Africa, leading to a comprehensive, strategic and cooperative partnership.

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Indeed, China-Africa cooperation has made impressive achievements. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and has contributed more than 20 percent to Africa’s growth for a number of years.

Many flagship projects – the African Union  Conference Center, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, and the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, to name a few, have been completed and put into use. Cooperation in other fields, from science, education, culture, health, to people-to-people exchange, peace and security, is also making significant headway.

Practical cooperation

China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has been growing at a higher speed. Together, the two sides drafted and implemented ten cooperation plans.

A host of projects such as railways, roads, airports, ports and power stations have come to fruition, enabling remarkable change in Africa’s economic and social development.

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So far, China has provided about 120,000 government scholarships to African countries, set up 61 Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms in collaboration with 46 African countries, sent 21,000 doctors and nurses in medical teams to 48 African countries, treating around 220 million African patients, and forged 150 pairs of sister cities. All these efforts have consolidated popular support for China-Africa friendship.

The two sides have supported each other on issues of each other’s core interests and major concerns. Such collaboration has effectively upheld the shared interests of developing countries as well as the overall interests of the whole international community.

China is the largest developing country and the African continent home to the largest number of developing countries.

When China-Africa cooperation prospers, South-South cooperation will prosper. When the voice of the 2.6 billion people in China and Africa are heeded and respected, the world will have genuine fairness and justice.

Comrades-in-arms

China never interferes in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that suit their own national conditions, never imposes its will upon others, never attaches any political strings to its assistance, and never seeks selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation.

Both China and Africa are at a crucial stage of development and rejuvenation.

The Chinese and African peoples are entitled to live a better life. Our cooperation is about action and results. We always deliver and we do not make empty promises. FOCAC is a cooperation mechanism that truly delivers.

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As President Xi said, China and Africa are friends tested by adversity, and such friends must never be forgotten. During the 2008 international financial crisis, China and Africa rendered each other valuable support.

Instead of reducing assistance, China bucked the trend and increased its support to Africa. During the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, when others chose to leave, Chinese doctors and nurses braved difficulties and rushed to the hard-hit regions to help local people fight the disease.

Faced with the onslaught of COVID-19 worldwide, China and Africa have again stood shoulder to shoulder to help each other tide over the challenges.

Openness and inclusivity

FOCAC serves as a fine example of multilateralism. A closed-door policy or exclusiveness is never an option. Colonial plunder and the Cold-War rivalry brought excruciating sufferings to the African people. That part of history must not be repeated. Africa must never again be an arena for major-power rivalry.

Openness is vital in cooperation with Africa. It is important to share experience and learn from one another so that Africa’s peace and development can benefit from the common effort and contribution of the international community.

We need to take the side of the overwhelming majority of the international community, stay committed to multilateralism, and align global governance reforms with the common interests of developing countries.

Post COVID-19 recovery

As the coronavirus continues to spread globally, both China and Africa are confronted with the formidable task of combating it while stabilizing the economy and protecting people’s livelihoods. We will speed up the implementation of the important measures that President Xi Jinping announced at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, and make China’s contribution to making vaccines accessible and affordable for African countries as soon as possible.

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China will continue to provide COVID-19 containment supplies, send expert teams, and facilitate Africa’s procurement of medical supplies from China. China will strive for breaking ground for the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters by the end of this year.

Investing in Africa

We encourage Chinese companies and financial institutions to take an active part in infrastructure connectivity projects in Africa, which will facilitate cross-border logistics and customs clearance.

China hopes to work with Africa to deepen the integration of our industrial and supply chains, and encourages Chinese businesses to step up investment and technological cooperation in Africa.

We will support Africa’s agricultural modernization and industrialization drive to raise the added value and competitiveness of Africa’s exported energy, mineral and agricultural products.

“Having scaled a cloud-shrouded mountain peak, we rest our horses and set sail for the vast ocean.” reads one ancient Chinese verse. Standing at a new historical starting point, and under the guidance of President Xi Jinping, China will enhance the cohesion and influence of FOCAC, so as to achieve greater success in our journey of building a China-Africa community with a shared future.

Mr. Wang Yi is the People’s Republic of China State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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