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Follow-Up Actions of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
Remarks by Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. He Yafei

 

 

Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and Africa, all the follow-up actions of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) have progressed smoothly since the Fourth Senior Official's Meeting of FOCAC in August 2005.

I. Cooperations in the political field were further strengthened.

High-level exchange of visits between China and Africa reached a new high. From last September to now, six presidents, three prime ministers, one vice president and eight foreign ministers of African countries visited China. Last year, Chairman Wu Bangguo of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, Li Changchun, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and Vice Premier Huang Ju of the State Council visited Africa respectively. Early this year, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visited six African countries and this was the 16th year in a run in which the Chinese Foreign Minister had chosen Africa as the first place to visit in a new year. Last April, President Hu Jintao visited Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya. In the middle of this June, Premier Wen Jiabao will visit seven African countries, namely, Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of the Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Chinese Government has all along given a high priority in its diplomacy to the development of friendly ties and cooperation with Africa. Last January, the Chinese Government issued China's African Policy, and expressed its readiness to establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership with Africa featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange. It was the first time for the Chinese Government to issue a document comprehensively expounding on China's policy towards Africa and it was also the first time for the Chinese Government to issue a policy paper that focused on an entire continent. It demonstrates China's sincere wish and firm resolve to develop friendly ties and cooperation between the two sides in the new circumstances. On May 25th, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan reaffirmed in his speech that the Chinese Government placed high value on the development of friendly and cooperative China-Africa relations when he attended the reception celebrating the 43rd anniversary of the "African Liberation Day" hosted by the African diplomatic corps in China.

In international affairs, China and Africa continued to maintain close consultation and cooperation. Not long ago, in the election of the UN Human Rights Council, China and Africa supported each other and produced very good results. On the UN Security Council and other multilateral occasions, China has, as always, supported the reasonable stands of African countries, taken their concerns seriously and spoken out in favor of its African friends to uphold justice on issues concerning their legitimate rights and interests. China closely follows and actively supports the peace cause of Africa. Early this year, as the special envoy of the Chinese Government, Vice Foreign Minister Lu Guozeng was invited to the Sixth African Union Summit in Sudan as an observer. On behalf of the Chinese Government, he provided the AU with assistance gratis worth US$400,000 to be used in AU's peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Sudan. Vice Minister Lu specially went to the Darfur region to learn the situation on the ground. By the end of May, the 435-person peacekeeping force sent by China had been deployed in Sudan. As things stand now, China takes part in seven UN peacekeeping operations in Africa and 1,295 Chinese are on peacekeeping missions on the continent.

African countries have given staunch support to China over the Taiwan question and other major issues. Last February, the Taiwan authorities, regardless of the opposition from people on both sides of the Straits, announced the decision to cease the function of the "National Unification Council" and the application of the "National Unification Guidelines". Forty-seven African countries having diplomatic ties with China expressed their support in various forms for the just position of the Chinese Government and people in opposing "Taiwan Independence" and safeguarding national unity. Thanks to the support of the friendly countries from Africa and other regions, China defeated the Taiwan authorities' plot of "returning to the UN" for the 13th time last September and foiled their attempt to participate in the World Health Assembly for the 10th time last May. The Chinese side expresses its appreciation and gratitude to its African friends for upholding justice and supporting the great cause of China's reunification.

II. Economic cooperation and trade between China and Africa continued to register robust growth.

In 2005, China-Africa trade volume was US$39.74 billion, up by 34.9% than the previous year and China ran a trade deficit of US$2.4 billion. The Chinese side takes seriously some African countries' trade deficit with China and has taken measures to encourage Chinese companies to increase imports from African countries in order to close the gap. At the Second Ministerial Conference of FOCAC at the end of 2003, the Chinese Government announced that it would give zero-tariff treatment to 190 kinds of commodities imported from least developed countries in Africa having diplomatic relations with China with a view to increasing Chinese imports from Africa. After 26 African countries began to enjoy this preferential policy from 1 January 2005, Angola and Senegal will join them from 1 July of this year. According to the statistics of the Chinese Customs, in 2005, the value of the imported African goods covered by this preferential policy totaled US$380 million, up by 87.8% on a year-on-year basis, which was 53 percentage points higher than the growth rate of China's imports from Africa in the same period of the previous year. This has shown that the Chinese policy of exempting tariff for some African goods has brought about tangible results. In the future, China will continue to take new measures to facilitate the sound and fast growth of trade with Africa.

China's investment in Africa was also on the rise. According to preliminary statistics, China's accumulated direct investment in Africa had amounted to US$1.18 billion by the end of 2005, and China had established more than 800 enterprises in Africa. It had investment projects in 49 African countries in a wide range of areas including trade, manufacturing and processing, resources development, transportation, telecommunication and agriculture.

In addition, China, within its own capacity, continued to provide African countries with assistance gratis, interest-free loans and concessional loans. China also undertook infrastructure projects such as road paving, hospital building, urban water supply facilities and house construction to help African countries achieve economic and social development. Starting from 2005, the Chinese Government provided African countries plagued by droughts, pests and diseases with emergency disaster-relief assistance, including humanitarian assistance supplies, medicines, food and cash.

III. China-Africa cooperation in social development made fresh headway.

At the second Ministerial Conference of the Forum in December 2003, Premier Wen Jiabao announced that from 2004 to 2006 China would help train 10,000 Africans of various professions. From January 2004 to April 2006, China trained 7,600 people for African countries, among whom 4,600 received training in 2005 alone. Both government officials and technicians from African countries were trained. The training courses covered a wide range of areas, including administration, economic management, medicine and health care, computer network and communication, agro-technology, consular protection, education and environmental protection. It is estimated that this year China will train 3,000 Africans. As the plan is now being smoothly implemented, the Chinese side will train even more Africans than what Premier Wen solemnly pledged.

China-Africa cooperation in education within the framework of the Forum was enhanced. On 27 November 2005, China-African Forum of Ministers of Education was held in Beijing. Seventeen African ministers of education attended the forum, during which they held dialogue on national strategies on educational development in China and African countries and international exchanges and cooperation. The Chinese side announced that in the coming five years the number of African students covered by the scholarship program of the Chinese Government would be doubled, that from 2006 to 2008, 1,000 educational officials and teachers would be trained annually for Africa, and that new measures would be taken to strengthen academic exchanges and to help teach the Chinese language in Africa. All this has been a success story of multilateral educational cooperation between China and Africa under the framework of the Forum.

In the second half of 2005, Namibia, Botswana, Madagascar and Lesotho were given the Approved Destination Status (ADS) by China for Chinese tourists. So far sixteen African countries have become approved destinations for outbound Chinese tourists traveling at their own expenses.

China and Africa continued their rich and fascinating cultural exchanges and cooperation. Since August 2005, six Chinese art troupes have been to seven African countries, staging performances of singing, dancing, acrobatics and martial arts. Six African art troupes visited China. The two sides had active exchanges in literature, film and TV industry, archeology, and museum exhibition. In addition, China continued to train acrobatic performers for Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania and sent experts to Cameroon to give training courses on modern dancing. In the latter half of this year, China will hold in South Africa a series of cultural events known as "Get the Feel of China".

In August 2005, the first group of 12 young Chinese volunteers went to Ethiopia for half-year service there, which proved a success. Their service was fully recognized by the Ethiopian Government, securing a good beginning for young Chinese volunteers to serve Africa in the future. This August, the second China-Africa Youth Festival will be held in China. We are confident that the volunteers' service and events like the youth festival will become the highlights in China-Africa youth exchanges.

In the multilateral context, fresh progress was made in exchange and cooperation between China and NEPAD. China places value on and supports NEPAD. Within the framework of the Forum, the Chinese side has carried out fruitful cooperation through bilateral channels with African countries in those priority areas under NEPAD such as infrastructure development, prevention and treatment of communicable diseases, human resources development, education and agriculture. The Chinese side has already established direct contact with NEPAD Secretariat. During her visit to South Africa last March, Mme. Xu Jinghu, Secretary-General of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum, held working talks with Mr. Mucavele, CEO of the NEPAD Secretariat. In the talks, the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in human resources development. Mr. Mucavele will visit China in July and discuss with the competent Chinese authorities on how to further expand bilateral cooperation.

In addition, as the scope of China-Africa cooperation continued to expand, more members joined the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum. In the latter half of last year, five ministerial-level Chinese authorities joined the Committee. They are respectively in charge of information industry, radio, film and television, quality inspection, civil aviation and youth exchanges. We now have 27 institutional members on the Committee.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and Africa, progress has been made in various follow-up actions in a conscientious and orderly way since the Second Ministerial Conference of the Forum. We are confident that all the objectives set at the Conference will be fully met.



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