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Alive with Possibilities
China-Africa relations are intertwined and present exciting mutual beneficial opportunities going forward
By Lin Songtian | VOL.9 December 2017 ·2017-12-11

Lin Songtian

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, held in Beijing on October 18-24, set out the guiding principles for China's major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics at the top level. The congress put forward that China will pursue a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, building a community with shared future for mankind, which is an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity. This goal not only encapsulates the overall objective of China's diplomacy in the new era, but also declares to the world the general direction of China's joint efforts with countries around the world.

Sustainable security

General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping stressed that it is impossible for China to enjoy peace and development without the peace and development of the world. That is why China advocates a new-security concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security. China is committed to jointly building a world of lasting peace and universal security. To achieve this goal, countries should abandon the traditional international politics of zero-sum game and the law of the jungle, and resolutely reject any country that pursues "absolute security." This approach is in stark contrast to the foreign policy of countries that only seek absolute security of their own and, for that purpose, even incite color revolutions and try to topple the regime of another country. C­hina will not only focus on building a beautiful and better China, but will also contribute to a beautiful world. China is willing to work with the international community to promote the cause of the environment, address climate change, and protect the earth as our shared homeland. To build a clean, beautiful and better world is the solemn promise of the CPC as well as the stated mission of China's diplomacy.

Looking forward, under the guidance of the Xi J­inping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and uphold its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promoting common development. China remains firm in its commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-­aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence). China will always be a staunch force of world peace, development and order.

China-Africa common future

China and Africa will always share a common future. We have always understood and supported each other on issues concerning our core interests and major concerns, and we have always stood together to protect our common interest. Since the entry of the new century, major changes have taken place to both China and Africa. We share the common mission for economic development, better life for people and eradication of poverty. Africa is endowed with rich natural resources, human dividend, and a potential market, while China has the comparative advantage of capital, technology, market, enterprise talents and experience of successful development. China and Africa share mutual needs and complementarities and face a rare historic opportunity to synergize their development strategies.

In view of new developments in China-Africa relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed us that in conducting our relations with Africa, we should always follow the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. The essence of the instruction is to closely combine China's development with the independent sustainable development of African countries, so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development.

Economic independence

In December 2015, Chinese President Xi and South African President Jacob Zuma co-chaired the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit. Our two presidents jointly opened with other African leaders a new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation for common development. During the summit, Xi announced the China-Africa 10 cooperation plans, which is spearheaded by efforts to accelerate Africa's industrialization and agricultural modernization. With a commitment of $60 billion of funding support, China aims to support Africa to break through three development bottlenecks, namely inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and shortage of financial resources, so as to achieve lasting peace and self-sustainable development. We believe that there will be no political independence without economic independence. Only by realizing industrialization and agricultural modernization can Africa create more jobs, get more tax revenues and foreign exchange, and achieve self-sustainable development.

The new FOCAC conference will be held in China next year. Under the guidance of the 19th CPC Natio­nal Congress, and upholding the values of friendship, justice and shared interests, and the new approach of common, intensive, green, peace and open development, China will work together with Africa to jointly build the Belt and Road and promote comprehensive cooperation in the five pillar areas of politics, economy, culture, security and international affairs, and bring China-Africa relations into the new era of win-win cooperation for common development.

Leveraging strengths

Currently, the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership maintains robust momentum, while the China-South Africa relationship is the best it has been in history and is faced with new opportunities. Over the years, a multi-layered, wide-ranging and all-dimensional cooperation framework has taken shape. Driven by three engines of mutual political trust, economic and trade cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, China-South Africa relations have delivered tangible results to both peoples and become a model for China's cooperation with African countries and all developing countries. Situated in a prime location, and boasting rich resources, good infrastructure, a well-regulated market, and sound legal system, South Africa is the leading African country that is in the best position for deeper China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation. China and South Africa not only have the comparative advantages, but more importantly a strong political commitment to the common development. A new miracle for development will be created by China and South Africa by complementing their respective strengths for win-win cooperation.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of China-South Africa diplomatic ties. China and South Africa will take this important opportunity, fully leverage our strengths of political mutual trust, economic complementarity, and the friendship between our two peoples, and work together to promote cooperation in 10 priority areas of infrastructure, human resources, manufacturing and processing, agriculture, tourism, marine economy, finance, security, people-to-people exchange and international cooperation. China is ready to support South Africa as a leader in Africa, a locomotive to drive Africa's industrialization, and a product base for African industrialization and modernization, and make China-South Africa relations more productive and more beneficial to our two peoples.

(The author is the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa)

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