Journal

Fully Implement FOCAC Summit Outcomes To Elevate China-Africa Cooperation to a New Level

Lin Songtian Lin Songtian is Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China
The Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was convened in Johannesburg, South Africa on 4-5 December 2015. This grand gathering brought together representatives of all the 52 FOCAC members including 43 heads of state and government, more than ever before. This is the second summit in the history of China-Africa relations and the first of its kind held on the African continent. Moreover, this is the first time for China to hold a summit overseas. Under the theme "China-Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development", leaders attending the Summit renewed their traditional friendship, discussed ways to promote development and mapped out a new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation and development. The Summit has a rich agenda, many bright spots and a far-reaching impact. As President Xi Jinping pointed out at the closing ceremony, "This is a perfect and extraordinary gathering. Together, we made history."
 
Fruitful Outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit 
 
President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony titled "Open a New Era of China-Africa Win-Win Cooperation and Common Development", in which he articulated the new concept and thinking of China's African policy and put forward new measures to promote China-Africa cooperation and development. His words struck a deep chord in the participants and provided the basis for the consensus of the Summit. Two outcome documents were adopted at the Summit, i.e. Declaration of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Action Plan (2016-2018). To be specific, the main outcomes of the Summit are as follows:
     
First, the Summit developed a new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation and development. The "1+5+10" blueprint proposed by President Xi at the Summit, namely upgrading one relations, building five pillars and implementing ten cooperation plans, was warmly received by all the participants. The Summit decided to elevate the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa to a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. To forge this partnership, the Summit agreed to strengthen the five major pillars of political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation, mutually enriching cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and coordination in international affairs, and toimplement ten cooperation plans with Africa in the next three years in the following key areas: industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction, public health, cultural and people-to-people exchange, and peace and security. Furthermore, China pledged US$60 billion of funding support for the ten cooperation plans in order to align Africa's goal of accelerated industrialization and agricultural modernization with China's own development. By so doing, we can help Africa build capacity for self-development, achieve diversified development and economic independence and move away from its reliance on foreign assistance and export of primary products and, at the same time, turn Africa into a new growth pole for win-win cooperation and common development with China and the rest of the world.
 
Second, the Summit identified the main objectives, priority areas and fundamental pathway for China-Africa cooperation and development. The ten cooperation plans, by harnessing the historic opportunity presented by the strategic complementarities between China and Africa, aim to leverage the two major advantages of China-Africa relations, namely, political mutual trust and economic complementarity. Prioritizing industrialization and agricultural modernization and with a focus on industry partnership and production capacity cooperation, the cooperation plan can help Africaovercome the three bottleneck issues holding back its development, namely inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and funding shortage, thus removing the main impediments to China-Africa cooperation and development. It can also help Africa develop its industrial system, food security system and public health system for sustainable self-development, address the three issues crucial to people's well-being, i.e. employment, food and health, and realize enduring peace and sustainable self-development. This is an important common understanding reached at the Summit and an important goal that the two sides will work toward.
     
Third, the Summit marked the beginning of a new era for China-Africa cooperation and development. It demonstrated the vision and consensus of Chinese and African leaders and expressed the shared aspirations of the Chinese and African people, that is, China and Africa are committed to a new path of win-win cooperation for common progress. We will uphold the new concept for cooperation and development, pursue win-win results and common development, and jointly open up a new era for win-win cooperation and common development.
     
The Chinese and African leaders are committed to a new era for cooperation and development, which is fundamentally different from the colonialist era that featured plundering of Africa's resources and seeking unilateral interests at the cost of Africa's interests. It will be an era that holds great promise for China-Africa cooperation and development.
     
China upholds the values of friendship, justice and shared interests, embraces the new concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, and seeks win-win cooperation and common development with Africa. China will never pursue the colonialist path of western powers, nor will it sacrifice Africa's environment and long-term interests.
     
Leaders of African countries rebutted the groundless accusations made by the West that China is pursuing "neo-colonialism" in Africa. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said in a stirring speech that China "is doing to us what we expected colonizers in history to do." Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta commended China on cooperating with Africa to help it get rid of poverty and realize sustainable development. This is something that Western colonizers never did for Africa and stands in sharp contrast to what the colonizers did. Namibian President Hage Geingob said that it is ironic that some countries accuse China of pursuing "neo-colonialism" in Africa, because it were those countries that once carved up Africa with a map in their hands.
     
Fourth, the Summit injected fresh impetus to China-Africa cooperation and development. One important outcome of the Summit is that mutual understanding reached a new height. President Xi Jinping's remarks, especially the ten cooperation plans and US$60 billion funding support, made it clear to the African governments and peoples that China's commitment to Africa's sustainable self-development is no empty slogan. Rather, China has offered, in line with the aspirations and urgent needs of African countries, ten cooperation plans with substantial funding support that prioritize industrialization and agricultural modernization in the coming three years. These grand designs and concrete measures have demonstrated to the African governments and peoples the firm determination and resolve of the Chinese side. Likewise, the Summit also allowed the Chinese government and people to get a better picture of a rising Africa and its great potential. Africa has proved to be a trustworthy and reliable friend and partner of China in its endeavor to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and to uphold its national sovereignty, security and development interests. And the 21st century is not only for China and Asia, but also a century for the rise of Africa.
     
In a certain sense, through the convening of the Summit, China and Africa have basically completed the tasks of making top-level design, aligning development strategies, shaping public opinions and developing overall plans for the new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development. The Summit also gave a strong boost to cooperation and development in both China and Africa. In the next three years, China-Africa friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation will be advanced across the board and upgraded to a new level.
     
We are confident and hopeful that the Summit will draw more attention and input from the international community to Africa, facilitate more investment cooperation with Africa and contribute more to enduring peace and sustainable development in Africa.
 
New Blueprint Shows New Prospects for China-Africa Relations
     
China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development embodies peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcome which are the salient features of the times. The new "1+5+10" blueprint provides guidance and policy support for the future development of China-Africa relations which will embrace an even better future.
     
— The blueprint upgraded China-Africa relations across the board. The Summit decided to elevate the new type of strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, demonstrating the strong political will and resolve of the two sides to upgrade the bilateral relations. It shows that both sides are willing to approach and grow China-Africa relations from a higher, broader and longer strategic perspective, and attach greater importance to each other's rapidly growing international status and influence. The new characterization of China-Africa relations further underscored the importance of the two sides in each other's foreign policy agenda and raised the expectations for the two sides to play a bigger role in upholding the common interests of China, Africa and other developing countries and advancing world peace and development with enhanced solidarity and coordination. The building of comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Africa will reinforce the leading and demonstrative role of China-Africa cooperation in South-South cooperation.
     
— The blueprint improved the layout for China-Africa cooperation. The five major pillars represent the five priority areas of China-Africa friendly cooperation, and the five key principles guiding all-round development of China-Africa relations. They are consistent with the positions and propositions on China-Africa friendly cooperation and exchanges. On top of that, two more pillars of cooperation on peace and security and on international affairs have been added in response to the new situation and tasks. As such, the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership is now underpinned by a broader agenda, a more complete layout and more solid foundation. And the weak links holding back China-Africa friendly cooperation have been strengthened. By designing and advancing the five pillars in parallel, we will shore up both the strong points and weak links in China-Africa friendly cooperation, substantiate the China-Africa community of shared interests and common future, upgrade China-Africa relations across the board, and promote greater balance, stability and prosperity in the world.
     
— The blueprint is designed to meet the most urgent development needs of both sides. The ten cooperation plans are consistent with China's needs of adjusting economic structure and reducing over capacity as its economy has entered a new normal. They are also highly compatible with the strategic goals and priority areas set out in Africa Union's Agenda 2063 and responsive to the keen desire of African countries for industrial development. Efforts will first be made to remove the bottlenecks impeding Africa's development and China-Africa cooperation. The blueprint incorporates more measures than all previous FOCAC meetings. It both covers traditional areas and adds new dimensions to mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa, making the cooperation layout more full-fledged.
     
     
We believe and keenly hope that by combining China's comparative advantages in capital, technology and market with Africa's demographic dividends and market potential generated by its 1.1 billion population as well as its abundant natural resources and other latecomer advantages, we can turn Africa into a new engine and growth pole that will benefit economic development in China and the rest of the world.
 
China-Africa Community of Shared Interests and Common Future Is Progressing with the Time
 
China and Africa have all along been a community of shared future. We suffered similar scourge in the past, and shared mutual understanding and support in the fight against imperialism and colonialism and struggle for national independence and liberation. The profound friendship forged in the battlefield makes China and Africa natural partners in a community of shared future. Today, China and African nations, both being developing countries, face the common mission of growing the economy, improving people's lives and eliminating poverty. In light of the respective features and common mission of China and Africa, President Xi Jinping put forward the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and the values of friendship, justice and shared interests for China's relations with Africa. The aim is to align China's development with Africa's development for win-win progress and common development, strengthen China-Africa community of shared interests and common future, and deliver an even better life for the Chinese and African people.
     
Supporting Africa's development, in fact, is also conducive to the development of China and the rest of the world. Despite the anemic world economic recovery, falling commodity prices and mounting downward pressure on growth, the host of new measures put forth by China at the Summit to promote China-Africa cooperation and development have brought new hope to Africa and the world by injecting fresh impetus to China-Africa cooperation and development.
     
First, the new measures have created conditions for Africa to realize sustainable self-development. African countries today are still largely single-product economies with heavy reliance on export of primary raw materials. The international community, developed countries in particular, focus more on providing assistance instead of capacity building, or giving Africa fish rather than teaching it how to fish, so to speak. China rolled out new key measures at the Summit to boost China-Africa cooperation and development. The purpose is to help Africa improve its soft and hard environment for investment and development, create enabling conditions to attract foreign investment, build capacity for self-development and realize economic independence and sustainable self-development. This is the Chinese proposal and Chinese wisdom in support of Africa's development.
     
Second, the new measures increased the quality of China-Africa cooperation and development. China pledged US$60 billion of funding support for the ten cooperation plans over the next three years, of which only US$5 billion is in the form of grant and zero-interest loans aimed at livelihood and contingency projects African countries. The remaining US$55 billion is concessional loans and funds which will be guided by economic and social benefits of the projects and channeled to support large scale infrastructure projects and investment of Chinese and African businesses. To make good use of these funds, China and Africa need to work in the same direction, explore new ideas and ways of cooperation and increase the quality of China-Africa cooperation and development. That means China-Africa cooperation should shift its focus from government assistance to business investment, from trade in general goods to processing trade, production capacity cooperation and technological transfer and upgrading, and from traditional cooperation in project contracting to investment, operation and financial cooperation.
     
     
Third, the new measures expanded the convergence of interests that underpins the China-Africa community of shared future. The economic foundation determines the superstructure. China and Africa need and complement each other in their cooperation and development and face a rare historic opportunity to align their respective development agenda. As the ten cooperation plans are being put into practice, the combination of China's development experience and comparative advantage and Africa's abundant human and natural resources will have a multiplying effect in promoting friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa in all areas, and bring about substantive progress in China-Africa relations. It will help enhance the overall strength of developing countries, and promote more balanced, inclusive and sustainable development in the world.
 
Implementing FOCAC Outcomes
 
— China and Africa are in Action
     
To honor commitment is a principle that China has all along adhered to in its cooperation with Africa. After the closing of the Summit, President Xi Jinping made clear instructions to the Chinese side to follow through on each and every commitment he made at the Summit.
     
At the beginning of the year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited four African countries, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique and Namibia, on his first overseas trip in 2016. In light of the varying features and needs of the four countries, Foreign Minister Wang had in-depth discussions with their leaders on how to implement FOCAC outcomes. He put forward ideas and plans that are tailored to local conditions and laid out the priority areas and specific requirements for cooperation. Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce also visited African countries or received African delegations in China to discuss country-specific cooperation with their African counterparts.
     
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce convened a plenary meeting of the Chinese Follow-up Committee on FOCAC, which consists of nearly 30 government departments, to look at the implementation of FOCAC outcomes and assign specific tasks to the competent departments. Furthermore, the Chinese side also held meetings for Chinese diplomatic envoys to African countries and African diplomatic envoys to China respectively to mobilize and align their efforts. The China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation has been set up and the first group of projects will soon be rolled out. Expectations are high in the Chinese society for the implementation of FOCAC outcomes. Governments at both central and local levels as well as the business sector have all shown a strong interest in advancing cooperation with Africa. More and more Chinese enterprises have made Africa an important overseas market for their future business.
     
The governments of South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and some other African countries have put in place inter-ministry coordination mechanisms to follow up on FOCAC outcomes and engage directly with the Chinese side in the hope of benefiting more from the outcomes at an earlier date.
      A new round of China-Africa cooperation and development is gaining momentum. We look forward to working with various departments, localities and enterprises of various ownership in China and conducting full communication with African countries to make sure that FOCAC outcomes will be implemented in a safe, orderly and efficient way, and advance win-win cooperation for common development of China and Africa.
 
Lin Songtian is Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China.

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