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Stepping up China-Africa Cooperation
Given the impressive momentum generated by the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa in December 2015, the only way to go at the 2018 Beijing Summit is up. Many of the cooperation plans first agreed on three years ago have been implemented, and it has set a firm, optimistic foundation from which to continue the impetus
ChinAfrica | VOL.10 September 2018 ·2018-08-29
Chinese President Xi Jinping (center) with African leaders at the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit on December 4, 2015 (PANG XINGLEI)

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi said this year's summit will elevate China-Africa Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership to a new level. In light of changes taking place globally and the new demand for growth on the African continent, Wang said the summit will unveil new measures to step up China-Africa cooperation in all aspects.

As a key platform for the collective dialogue and cooperation between China and African countries, Wang believes FOCAC has already become a model of South-South cooperation and a banner of international cooperation with Africa.

African ambassadors share this optimism about the future progress of FOCAC. South African Ambassador to China Dolana Msimang said that China has now made a very big footprint on the continent, particularly with regards to infrastructure development, agriculture and manufacturing, adding that in almost every corner of Africa the significance of China has been felt very positively.

One of those corners is Nigeria, where Charles Onunaiju, Director of the Center for China Studies in Abuja, believes FOCAC must continue focusing on the core material needs to put Africa on a steady and inclusive development trajectory.

"Where Africa's former colonial masters and their partners in the West view Africa's security challenges as obstacles to development, China, through the mechanism of FOCAC, sees economic development as the practical way to overcome the security challenge and secure peace, stability and prosperity in Africa," said Onunaiju.

Launch of the official website of FOCAC Beijing Summit on August 8 (LI XIN)

Overcoming these challenges is part of the great symbiosis between FOCAC and the African Union's Agenda 2063, which has the prime objective to create a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable people-driven development. Benard Ayieko, a Kenyan economist, consultant and a regional commentator on trade and investment, thinks the FOCAC Beijing Summit offers African countries an opportunity to not only broaden the scope and benefits of Agenda 2063, but to also propose new measures to deal with issues of industrialization, trade imbalance and employment creation for the youth.

"The Third FOCAC Summit in Beijing in September this year offers African countries a great opportunity to strengthen cooperation with China aimed at realizing aspirations of the Agenda 2063 in light of the evolving geopolitical dynamics," he said.

It is these aspirations, so vital to the blueprint of the continent's developmental direction, that form part of Dai Bing's vision for the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Dai, who is secretary general of the FOCAC Chinese Follow-up Committee and director general of the Department of African Affairs of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, has tabled five important goals the summit should set out to achieve.

These are: promoting traditional China-Africa friendship, guiding the future development direction of China-Africa relations, transforming and upgrading China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, encouraging more coordinative and balanced China-Africa cooperation and promoting South-South cooperation and development.

The South-South development, also mentioned by Foreign Minister Wang, has been spoken of at great length during the lead up to this summit. It is within this framework that Cai Lihua, Deputy Secretary General of the China Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the FOCAC Beijing Summit will further promote private Chinese companies to participate in China-Africa trade and investment. He sees this opening up bigger roles for private companies.

"Entering the 21st century, African countries have been more actively promoting industrialization. During the process, more and more African countries regard industrial parks as an important model to attract foreign investment and promote industrialization," he said.

According to Cai, with the development of even closer economic and trade relations between China and Africa, the main players of bilateral economic and trade cooperation have changed with more flexible and pragmatic private companies playing an increasingly important role.

The bar was set so high at the Johannesburg Summit and FOCAC related parties have voiced overwhelming enthusiasm to make the Beijing Summit an even more ambitious event. All eyes will therefore be focused on China's capital in early September to see just what the unveiling of new measures to step up China-Africa cooperation in all aspects, as mentioned by Wang, will actually be.

Comments to niyanshuo@chinafrica.cn

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