At the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held on September 3-4, China once again demonstrated its determination to increase cooperation with Africa and promote the establishment of a China-Africa community with a shared future with more development initiatives.
At the opening ceremony on September 3, President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech titled Work Together for Common Development and a Shared Future. On September 4, a roundtable meeting of Chinese and African leaders unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration. The participants also ratified the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-21).
These two important outcome documents chart the direction for the future development of China and African countries. The Beijing Declaration reflects their consensus on major international issues and shows their aspirations to maintain friendship, share opportunities and address challenges together. The Beijing Action Plan lays out a plan for practical cooperation in various fields between China and Africa in the coming three years and beyond, and outlines a new blueprint for their mutually beneficial, common development.
China's policies toward Africa
China will adhere to its friendly policies toward Africa. In his opening speech, Xi summarized these long-term policies into a five-no approach: no interference in African countries' pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries' internal affairs; no imposition of China's will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.
In recent years, the West has often alleged that its conditional aid to Africa is conducive to promoting democracy and liberalization in Africa, whereas China's unconditional aid hampers good governance and political progress in Africa. However, the West has waged war in Libya and has carried out other military interventions under the excuse of humanitarian concerns and the pretext that "human rights are above sovereignty." Today's political disorder in Libya is the most evident testimony to the failure of such military intervention. Therefore, Xi called for all countries to adhere to the five-no approach when dealing with matters regarding Africa.
In response to biased attacks on China-Africa relations by the Western media in recent years, Xi firmly pointed out in his speech that no one could undermine the great unity between the Chinese and African people; no one could hold back the Chinese or African people as they march toward rejuvenation; no one could deny the remarkable achievements made in China-Africa cooperation, not with their assumptions or imagination; and no one could stand in the way or obstruct international efforts to support Africa's development. In short, Chinese and African people are in the best position to tell whether their relations are good or bad, whereas people who like to stand on the sidelines and talk nonsense cannot stop China-Africa cooperation.
A China-Africa community with a shared future should be built with the following points in mind. First, countries should assume a joint responsibility. China and Africa can increase political and policy dialogue at various levels, enhance mutual understanding, support regarding issues involving each other's core interests and major concerns, and boost coordination on major international and regional issues. Such efforts will enable all to uphold the common interests of China and Africa, as well as those of other developing countries.
Second, China and Africa could seize the opportunity created by the complementarity between our respective development strategies and the major opportunities presented by the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. We need to see to it that the initiative and the African Union's Agenda 2063, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the development programs of individual African countries better complement each other.
Third, China-Africa community with a shared future should be built to deliver happiness for the people in these areas, boost cultural prosperity, enhance common security, and promote harmony between humans and nature. A China-Africa community with a shared future is not a castle in the air. It will come into being with our concerted efforts. Its ever-enriching connotation will keep pace with the times, guide people and give them impetus to move forward.
Eight major initiatives
In the next three years, China will launch eight initiatives in such areas as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, healthcare, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security. The goal is to strengthen the three major weak spots in Africa, namely a lack of infrastructure, talent and funding, which restrict its industrialization and modernization.
To make sure that these eight initiatives are implemented, China will provide $60 billion to Africa in the form of government assistance as well as investment by financial institutions and companies. This will include $15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans; $20 billion in credit lines; the setting up of a $10-billion special fund for development financing; and a $5-billion special fund for financing imports from Africa. The latter two represent a new direction for fund use, aimed at addressing debt and other financing challenges arising in Africa's current development process and its trade deficit with China.
Furthermore, China will encourage its companies to make at least $10 billion worth of investment in Africa in the next three years, so as to transform China-Africa economic and trade cooperation from a government-led to a market-driven model.
In the process of building a community with a shared future, China and Africa need to constantly build political consensus, strengthen exchanges of experiences in state governance, enhance understanding of respective political development paths and models and learn from each other. In addition, we need to further strengthen economic cooperation and jointly build the Belt and Road. As Africa's economic development is still lagging behind, it needs not only external aid but also greater self-reliance in terms of capital, technology and personnel. Therefore, special attention should be paid to technology transfer, vocational training and employment creation in Africa in the process of Sino-African industrialization cooperation.
China has pledged to increase financing support for small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa and will use innovative instruments such as development finance to solve debt and other financing problems. In terms of infrastructure construction, China will pay more attention to the sustainable development of the projects. Only by helping Africa realize its African dream of poverty alleviation and development can a solid China-Africa community with a shared future be built.
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