China-Africa Friendship and Cooperation: Backbone of South-South Cooperation and Fine Example in International Relations

Wu Peng
In November, 2021, the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully convened in Dakar, Senegal. Charting the course forward for their relations, China and Africa welcomed a new milestone in their bilateral ties. As the implementation phase begins in 2022, China and Africa have been making steady progress in the various fields outlined at the conference, despite a challenging external economic environment and the COVID-19 pandemic. The results are a clear display of the resilience and vitality of China-Africa cooperation.   
This August, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Eighth FOCAC Ministerial Conference in a virtual format. The gathering was also attended by Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall of Senegal, the African co-chair of FOCAC, and representatives of previous African co-chairs of FOCAC, sub-regions of Africa and the African Union (AU) Commission, as well as African diplomatic envoys in China. Standing together in the face of a shifting international landscape, rising global challenges and recurring external disturbances, China and Africa vowed to enhance solidarity and cooperation, stay focused on development and win-win cooperation and safeguard justice and fairness, sending yet another strong message to the international community.
This spirit of friendship and cooperation is a living example of the shared commitment and win-win partnership between China and Africa; it is also the source of strength for China and Africa to continuously build on the past and open up new prospects in their relations. China—the largest developing country in the world—and Africa the continent with the largest number of developing countries—have similar past experiences, historical struggles, and priorities in development. On major international and regional issues, we advocate similar ideas and positions. With mutual understanding and support, we have worked together to uphold the common interests of developing countries and international fairness and justice. Our contribution makes the trend for stability and development in the world stronger. Africa is also the most active continent in Belt and Road cooperation; fifty-two African countries and the AU Commission have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China. China-Africa cooperation in the new era has set a fine example for building a community with a shared future for mankind.  
We have deepened our political mutual trust. President Xi Jinping highly values China-Africa relations. He put forward the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith as guidelines for China’s Africa policy and stressed the need of pursuing the greater good and shared interests. He articulated the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. He called for the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. He has taken actions himself to promote the steady and sustained growth of China-Africa relations. Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, President Xi Jinping has chaired the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 and communicated with leaders of sub-Saharan African countries dozens of times through phone calls and correspondence. Overcoming the challenge of the pandemic, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi began his overseas travel agenda for the new year with a trip to Africa, sticking to a 32-year tradition kept by successive Chinese foreign ministers. These close high-level exchanges and ever-deepening political trust have provided strong underpinning for the growth of China-Africa relations in an advanced stage.
We have developed more substantive and solid cooperation with mutual benefits. While chairing the FOCAC Summits in Johannesburg and Beijing and attending the virtual opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, President Xi Jinping announced a series of consequential initiatives for greater cooperation with Africa, including the “ten major cooperation plans”, “eight major initiatives”, and “nine programs”, taking China-Africa cooperation to new heights. For 13 consecutive years, China has been the largest trading partner of Africa. In the first half of 2022, China-Africa trade reached 137.4 billion US dollars, up by 17 percent year-on-year. Of this total, China imported 60.6 billion US dollars of African goods, a 20-percent increase year-on-year. Most recently, the first batch of fresh African avocados has arrived in China, a leading example of our early harvests under the “green lane” for African agricultural exports to China created under the “nine programs”. Coming with it are business opportunities for both sides and access to more quality products for Chinese consumers. There are other glittering examples: landmark cooperation projects such as the AU Conference Center, Mombasa-Nairobi Railway and Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway; and cooperation projects of road construction, electricity, communications and ports that are mushrooming across the continent. All of this has considerably enhanced Africa’s capacity for home-grown development. Over 3,800 Chinese companies have invested in Africa, and dozens of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation zones and industrial parks are up and running across Africa. Africa is exporting to China important resources; Angola alone accounts for 20 percent of China’s crude oil import. Africa is China’s second largest market in terms of overseas engineering contracting, with the total contract value of completed projects exceeding 570 billion US dollars even by a rough count. Africa is also an emerging destination of Chinese outbound investment, where the stock of direct investment by Chinese businesses has topped 47 billion US dollars. Africa has become a key link in China’s drive to further open up and create a new development paradigm by fostering mutually reinforcing circulations between its domestic economy and that of the world.  
We have developed increasingly closer coordination on the international stage. China firmly supports African countries in seeking strength through unity and playing a bigger part in international affairs, solving African issues in the African way, and making calls for justice, such as rejecting unilateral sanctions and interference in internal affairs. Acting hand in hand, China and Africa have worked to increase the representation and voice of developing countries on the global stage. Meanwhile, China has received strong support from Africa on issues relating to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and human rights, etc. In response to the US House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, African countries have publicly stated its support for China or expressed its solidarity with China through bilateral channels. The Joint Statement of the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC particularly underscored that “the African side reaffirms its commitment to the one-China principle, and its support for China’s national reunification and China’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity.”  
We have taken China-Africa friendship from strength to strength. The traditional friendship between China and Africa was forged during their arduous struggles for national independence and liberation. China and Africa are both friends and comrades-in-arms. Our friendship is unbreakable and grows stronger with time. Faced with the severe test of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Africa again rallied to each other’s support. In China’s time of need, our African brothers offered valuable words of encouragement and support. All African countries that have diplomatic ties with China expressed sympathy and solidarity through various means. Quite a number of African countries, while life at home was not easy, tightened their belts to assist China with donations in cash and kind. The goodwill was soon reciprocated when Africa was hit by the pandemic. Moving expeditiously, China has provided some 120 batches of emergency anti-pandemic supplies for African countries and about 260 million doses of COVID vaccine for 45 African countries and the AU Commission. The essence of a China-Africa community with a shared future was in vivid display.  
In June this year, as Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Secretary-General of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC, I led a delegation to visit seven African countries: South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo. As I set my foot again on the land of hope and opportunities, what impressed me most was the significant progress Africa had achieved in its development, and the ardent hope and strong confidence of our African friends, both old and new, about the prospects of our mutually beneficial cooperation and the future of Africa and China-Africa cooperation.
In the world today, changes unseen in a century are picking up pace and the international landscape is experiencing profound adjustments. Yet peace and development remain the common aspiration of people of all countries. Multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations remain the predominant trend. And the collective rise of developing countries stands unstoppable. China and Africa have a stronger will to strengthen solidarity and cooperation.
We will be committed to accelerating the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. This vision of a community with a shared future for mankind dovetails well with African countries’ goal of seeking strength through unity and has been well received and supported by African countries. It has been incorporated into the Dakar Declaration of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC. Following the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy as a fundamental guidance, China will always be Africa’s partner of mutual respect, equality and sincere cooperation, and work with Africa for common development. China will firmly support African countries in charting their own development paths and seeking strength through unity. China supports the AU in joining the G20 and supports Uganda in hosting a successful high-level meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. China-Africa relations will shine as a fine example of solidarity, friendship and mutual assistance in time of need. China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era will embrace a bright future.  
We will further elevate China-Africa practical cooperation. Africa’s needs point the way for our cooperation. China is committed to working with Africa to synergize high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and the Global Development Initiative with the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the national development strategies of African countries. We will tap into our complementary strengths to fully implement the “nine programs”. We will move with speed to build the Africa CDC headquarters; advance joint vaccine production and medical and healthcare cooperation; enhance cooperation in infrastructure, investment and financing; expand bilateral trade; explore cooperation in such new areas as green development and digital economy; and implement a greater number of small yet smart programs that uplift livelihood. The well-established credentials of FOCAC will receive an even stronger boost. On the path to development and rejuvenation, China and Africa will continue to march forward together.  
We will strengthen solidarity and cooperation among developing countries in international affairs. In the face of great changes in the world, China and Africa will continue to pull together against all odds. We will step up coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs. We will firmly uphold the international system with the UN at its core and common human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom. We will oppose hegemony, power politics, unilateral sanctions and interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We will reject the attempt to build “small yards with high fences” and coerce other countries into picking sides. China will always stand on the side of our African brothers, and work with Africa to promote the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, practice true multilateralism and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. Together with Africa, China will work for a global governance system that is fairer and more equitable and balanced, and contribute more positive energy to global peace and development.
We will continue to enhance China-Africa cooperation on peace and security. Without peace, development cannot be achieved; without development, peace cannot sustain. China attaches great significance to safeguarding peace and security in Africa and stands committed to playing a constructive role in this regard. In January 2022, China put forward the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa and followed this up with the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs. Recently, the Horn of Africa Peace Conference was successfully held. China will continue to support solving African issues in the African way, oppose interference by external forces in African countries’ internal affairs, and object to stoking confrontation and conflict in Africa. China stands ready to work with Africa to implement in Africa the Global Security Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping. In the next three years, China will undertake 10 peace and security projects for Africa. China will also follow through on measures such as the delivery of military aid to the AU and support the AU in realizing the “Silencing the Guns” initiative. China will readily share ideas and contribute strength for peace and stability in Africa.
We will continue to champion the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. This is our source of strength in building a China-Africa community with a shared future on a higher level and at a new historical starting point. People are the foundation and lifeblood of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. In over half a century, the Chinese and African peoples have forged deep friendship by supporting each other through thick and thin. Going forward, we will encourage more friendly exchanges between our peoples. In this process, think tanks, media, women and youth can all play a part. Our people will develop greater mutual understanding and heart-to-heart communication, and jointly denounce racial discrimination and xenophobia. By doing so, we will cement popular support for the sustained vibrancy in China-Africa friendship. At the same time, China will actively facilitate the return of African students who wish to come back to China to resume their studies. We will also resume short-term in-person training programs in China in an orderly way, and steadily increase commercial flights to facilitate personnel interflow and business travels between our two sides.
I am convinced that China and Africa acting together can create a bright future for our relations, deliver more benefits to our peoples and inject strong impetus into developing a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.

Wu Peng is Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.