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Keep up the Momentum for a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was held in Senegal’s capital Dakar from November 29 to 30, 2021 local time under the theme “Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era”. As many as 53 countries and representatives from the African Union (AU) Commission attended the conference, another gathering of the big, friendly family of China and Africa since the Beijing Summit of FOCAC in 2018. It was the largest entity diplomatic event abroad jointly organized by China since the outbreak of COVID-19. It was also China’s major diplomatic operation facing fellow developing countries.

In his keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewed the historic achievements over the past 65 years since the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. He underscored the everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, made several proposals regarding the vision of building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, and announced nine programs to deepen China-Africa practical cooperation. President Xi’s speech set out a blueprint for the steady growth of China-Africa relations and long-lasting friendship between China and Africa from generation to generation.

Additionally, the conference adopted four documents, namely the Dakar Declaration, the Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024), the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035, and the China-Africa Declaration on Climate Change Cooperation, setting a record in terms of the number of documents adopted in the history of FOCAC. This demonstrates China and African countries’ strong desire to meet challenges together and pursue common development, and also tells us that China-Africa cooperation has tremendous potential and broad prospects. The adoption of these four documents marks a new milestone in the history of China-Africa relations.

Keep to the direction of the times and build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. Facing new challenges to China-Africa relations caused by global changes and the pandemic both unseen in a century, President Xi Jinping made four proposals for building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. The first is to fight COVID-19 with solidarity by putting people first and bridging the immunization gap. The second is to deepen practical cooperation by sharing development opportunities and jointly boosting economic recovery. The third is to promote green development by tackling climate changes together and saving lucid waters and lush mountains. And the fourth is to uphold equity and justice by offering each other firm support and safeguarding the shared interests. As a shared aspiration of both sides, such proposals clarify the pressing tasks, ultimate approaches, and goals of building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, charting the future course of China-Africa relations. In the new era ahead, China and African countries need to continue to pull together as one, give each other firm support on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns, and work to keep China-Africa cooperation at the forefront of international cooperation with Africa and global cooperation on development. Doing so will create a good example of building a community with a shared future for mankind, creating a new type of international relations, and increasing the wellbeing of humanity.

Inherit longstanding friendship and carry forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. China-Africa traditional friendship has endured with true meanings. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, why do China and Africa have such a close relationship and so deep a bond of friendship? The key lies in an everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness. Underpinned by sincere friendship and equity, China-Africa friendship, and cooperation stand out for its commitment to win-win results and common development, serve as a banner of fairness and justice, and keep abreast of the times with openness and inclusiveness. The spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation hailed as the flagship of China-Africa relations is the intellectual treasure for Chinese and African people. China will remain guided by the principle of sincerity, real results, amity, and good faith, and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests. China will work together with African friends to promote and carry forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation from generation to generation. When treasuring China-Africa friendship is widely and actively recognized, China-Africa relations are bound to make new, remarkable progress.

Share weal and woe and collectively prevail over COVID-19. The sudden onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic poses a grave threat to the health and life of people across the world. It also brings severe challenges to international relations and international cooperation. Since confirmed cases were reported in Africa, China has provided multiple batches of emergency medical supplies and vaccine donations to 53 African countries and the AU. This is China’s important contribution to helping African countries slow the spread of the virus and stabilize their economy, and has been widely recognized by African countries and others in the international community. To help the AU achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, President Xi Jinping announced at the conference that China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa. This vaccine aid program, the largest ever launched by a single country for Africa since the outbreak of COVID-19, will play a big role in global cooperation against the coronavirus, and be conducive to Africa’s endeavors to close the immunization gap and global efforts to defeat COVID-19.

Deepen practical cooperation and jointly foster sustainable economic growth. Suffering from the impact of COVID-19, African countries are grappling with their economic hardship and place high hopes on China-Africa cooperation to facilitate their economic recovery. With the focus on development in the post-COVID era and the new situation of global development, both sides have forged a strong consensus on accelerating the upgrading of China-Africa cooperation. To this end, President Xi Jinping announced that China will work closely with African countries to implement nine programs, namely the medical and health program, the poverty reduction and agricultural development program, the trade promotion program, the investment promotion program, the digital innovation program, the green development program, the capacity building program, the cultural and people-to-people exchange program and the peace and security program. These programs draw a grand blueprint for China-Africa cooperation in the coming three years. Through 80 key assistance projects contemplated under the framework of such nine programs, China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion, and provide credit facilities and trade finance to Africa. China will also support the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area, build in Africa centers of excellence on low-carbon development and climate change adaptation, and support the development of the “Great Green Wall”. These concrete actions, intended to meet the most pressing needs of African countries for development, demonstrate the shared commitment of China and Africa to the philosophy and path of green development. This will be another example of China’s increasing assistance to Africa and the rising momentum of China-Africa cooperation. It will certainly create new growth drivers for African economic recovery in the post-COVID era.

Uphold multilateralism and defend international equity and justice. Practices under the disguise of multilateralism currently adopted by a handful of countries are nothing but unilateral actions and hegemonic, undermining multilateralism and the multilateral mechanism. Against this backdrop, President Xi Jinping underscored that the world needs true multilateralism. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values of humanity and represent the abiding aspirations of both China and Africa. We both advocate a development path suited to our national conditions and are both committed to upholding the rights and interests of developing countries. We both oppose intervention in domestic affairs, racial discrimination, and unilateral sanctions. We need to unequivocally stand for the just propositions of developing countries and translate our common aspirations and interests into joint actions. President Xi’s propositions represent the common aspiration of China and African countries. As the legitimate aspirations of China and Africa in defending sovereignty, security, and development interests, and also a strong response to the rising unilateralism, power politics, and hegemony in the current international situation, these propositions will surely resonate well with developing countries across the world.

China sees Africa as a broad stage for international cooperation rather than an arena for competition among major countries. Since its founding 21 years ago, the FOCAC has turned into a model of South-South cooperation and a pacesetter for international cooperation with Africa. Looking ahead, with the mighty strength of the 2.7 billion Chinese and Africans including the people of Sudan, we will make concerted efforts to forge a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.

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