Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s five-nation tour of Africa came to an end Saturday with great optimism that the strategic comprehensive partnership between China and Africa will create lucrative opportunities for both sides.
Wang’s tour took him to Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania, and the Seychelles, in a decades-old tradition where Beijing’s top diplomat always visits the continent at the start of the year. This has been happening for the last 31 years now.
Wang Yi’s visit coming at a time the covid-19 pandemic has ravaged almost the entirety of the globe, causing major economic and social disruptions. The impact has been huge especially on the economy of Africa.
His visit is seen as extremely significant given the sentiments of concern in the continent that the pandemic might significantly Chinese lending to Africa. And Wang Yi addressed these concerns.
Wang Yi insists that COVID-19 has not kept China and Africa from advancing their cooperation. Indeed, China and Africa plan to have the next FOCAC meeting in Senegal later in the year. Through this forum, Wang said China will ‘communicate closely with African friends.’ In light of the new developments, he said China and Africa will discuss deliverables in the meeting as well as new ways to upgrade and enhance their cooperation.
But he promised that China will step up health cooperation with Africa to jointly defeat the coronavirus. He said China is prepared to help Africa on major disease prevention, in a joint effort to build a healthy Africa.
What’s more, he reiterated China’s commitment to building Africa’s industrial capacity, promote clustering and synergy of cooperation projects and make them more advanced in industrial operations and more locally based.
“China is prepared to help Africa enhance its home-grown production capacity, in a joint effort to build a strong African manufacturer.” He said
While in Tanzania, the Chinese Foreign Minister was asked about the implementation of the outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, seeing as 2021 is the concluding year for the follow-through efforts, and the potential priorities at the next FOCAC meeting.
Wang Yi was quick to point out that the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit was a full success even as he delivered a brief review of what has been accomplished during the past two years.
According to Wang, China and Africa have worked closely on all eight major initiatives agreed upon: such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security. He indicated that over 70 percent of the Summit outcomes have been delivered.
He said China and Africa have steadily advanced the Belt and Road cooperation. He disclosed that despite the pandemic, over 1,100 cooperation projects have kept going and nearly 100,000 Chinese technicians and engineers worked dutifully under the limitations caused by COVID-control. In his view, their efforts contributed in important ways to the economic and social well-being of the local communities.
In addition, he said China will step up cooperation with Africa on regional connectivity, and explore free trade cooperation with Africa. And as has been the case in the last couple of years, he said China is prepared to help Africa increase its infrastructure, trade and financial connectivity, in a joint effort to build a connected Africa.
According to Wang, China will also step up agricultural cooperation with Africa, including on food production, storage and transportation. He emphasized Beijing’s commitment to boost the continent’s efforts to attain food security.
“China will step up digital cooperation with Africa. With its technological strengths, China is prepared to help Africa seize the opportunities of ICT revolution, in a joint effort to build a digital Africa.” He added
And in a bid to provide an environment where investments will thrive, Wang said China will step up military and security cooperation with Africa, and promote political settlement of issues generating conflict. He said China will enhance its peace-keeping and counter-terrorism efforts.
Overall, he expressed confidence that with joint efforts from both China and African countries, the existing cooperation was bound to produce fruitful outcomes.