Forge Ahead Together to Deliver a Brighter Future for China and Africa
State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China at Reception Commemorating Africa Day
25 May 2021
Your Excellency Ambassador Martin Mpana, Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in China,
Your Excellency Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman Elnor, Permanent Representative of the African Union to China,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to attend today’s reception and celebrate the 58th Africa Day with our African brothers and sisters. On behalf of the Chinese government, I extend warm congratulations to you and to all the brotherly African countries and peoples. I also wish to thank all of you for the important part you have played in deepening China-Africa friendship and advancing China-Africa cooperation.
Africa Day is an important annual event to commemorate African people’s struggle for independence and African unity. I thank the dean of the African diplomatic corps in China for his warm remarks and the statement from AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. And I want to say at the outset that Africa Day is also a China Day; it is our common festival that we should commemorate and celebrate together every year. Fifty-eight years ago, inspired by Pan-Africanism, the Organization of African Unity was founded. Africa thus embarked on a new journey to strengthen itself and promote development and rejuvenation through unity. In recent years, African unity, cooperation, peace and development have gained new momentum. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been officially launched, important headway has been made toward African integration, the collective international profile of African countries has significantly risen, and Africa is playing an increasingly important role in international affairs.
Enhancing unity and cooperation with Africa has always been high on China’s diplomatic agenda. China and Africa fought shoulder to shoulder in the great struggle to win independence and uphold dignity. We have partnered with each other in pursuit of economic development and better lives for our peoples; and we have supported each other on issues that are important to our core interests and are of major concern to us. Despite rapid changes in the international landscape, China-Africa friendship has remained rock-solid and as strong as ever.
China and Africa have jointly responded to the COVID-19 challenge through mutual assistance. When COVID-19 struck, African countries and the AU gave China firm support at a tough time during its fight against the virus, a support we will never forget. President Xi Jinping is deeply concerned about the evolving COVID-19 situation in Africa. He called for holding the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit, which was held last June, and he respectively spoke with 11 African leaders over the phone, which is a true testament to the special bond between China and Africa who reach out to each other during trying times. The Chinese government has provided multiple batches of emergency medical supplies and vaccine donations to African countries and sent medical groups to 15 African countries. Chinese hospitals have been paired up with 43 hospitals in 38 African countries, and China has trained more than 20,000 African health workers. The construction of the African CDC headquarters was started ahead of plan. These concrete efforts give true meaning to the China-Africa community with a shared future. China has actively participated in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. We have signed debt suspension agreements or reached similar understanding with 19 African countries, and canceled the interest-free loans due to mature by the end of 2020 for 15 African countries within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). We fully understand the difficulties currently experienced by Africa and have every confidence in Africa’s future development prospects.
China and Africa have pressed ahead in pursuit of cooperation despite difficulties caused by the virus. Even with COVID-19, China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years. Direct Chinese investment in Africa has been steady, reaching US$3 billion in 2020 alone. Many Chinese engineers and technicians chose to stay at their posts in Africa despite the pandemic; and over 1,100 cooperation projects have maintained operation, providing strong support to economic reopening in Africa. Solid progress has been made in China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Forty-six African countries and the AU Commission have signed cooperation agreements with China under this initiative. At the celebration of the 20th anniversary of FOCAC last November, both sides committed to keep FOCAC a pacesetter of China-Africa cooperation and pursue China-Africa cooperation of even higher standard. Today, over 85 percent of the eight major initiatives announced at the 2018 Beijing Summit have been implemented, 70 percent of the US$60 billion supporting funds have been disbursed or earmarked, and a large number of cooperation projects have been launched or completed. All this provides a strong buttress for Africa to achieve economic recovery.
China and Africa have stood up for justice and supported each other in a changing world. Unilateralism, protectionism and acts of bullying have undermined both international equity and justice and the common interests of developing countries. Both China and Africa have stayed true to multilateralism, and we are both opposed to politicizing COVID-19, acts of racism and outside interference. Last week, at the UN Security Council open debate on “Peace and Security in Africa: Addressing Root Causes of Conflict in Post-Pandemic Recovery in Africa”, we jointly launched the Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development. This initiative fully demonstrates the importance of boosting China-Africa coordination under new conditions to uphold equity and justice, and it represents our joint contribution to advancing global cooperation and multilateralism.
This year is of special significance to both China and Africa. China will commemorate the centenary of the Communist Party of China and embark on a new journey to fully build itself into a modern socialist country. At this year’s FOCAC meeting, a new blueprint for the future development of China-Africa relations will be drawn up. We have reached a new starting point, and I propose that we take the following four steps to open up a new horizon for China-Africa cooperation:
First, we need to keep pace with the times and make this year’s FOCAC meeting a success. We should act in the Forum spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, overcome the impact of COVID-19 and, in keeping with the realities of China and Africa, ensure that the meeting delivers fruitful outcomes. We need to further deepen Belt and Road cooperation and forge strong complementarity between our development strategies. We need to adopt sector-specific cooperation measures for priority areas such as health care, investment, trade, industrialization, agricultural security, climate change, peace and security, human resources and digital economy to deliver greater benefits to our peoples. China will work closely with Senegal, the African co-chair of FOCAC, draw on the vision of all African countries, and ensure the success of the FOCAC meeting.
Second, we need to join hands to beat the virus as quickly as possible. China will continue to provide assistance of vaccines and medical supplies to African countries in need, facilitate vaccine procurement by African countries from China, and advance cooperation on joint vaccine production. We unequivocally support African countries’ call to waive vaccine intellectual property rights. We are committed to eliminating the vaccine divide, and we will speed up the construction of the African CDC headquarters to enhance Africa’s overall pandemic response capacity.
Third, we need to pursue common development and steadily advance practical China-Africa cooperation. We need to make full use of opportunities created by China’s new development paradigm and the launch of the AfCFTA to conduct more high-standard collaboration projects and improve people’s well-being. China supports Africa’s integration efforts, its industrialization process, and its pursuit of self-driven and sustainable development. China encourages Chinese companies to increase investment in Africa and do more trade with it, particularly importing quality African products. China will release a report on its private sector investment in Africa in the second half of this year, and explore more possibilities to boost China-Africa cooperation.
Fourth, we need to uphold equity and justice and strengthen coordination in international affairs. We should jointly safeguard the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and uphold the core role the United Nations plays in international affairs. We should resolutely reject attempts to create new bloc-confrontation, oppose power politics of all forms and manifestations, and practice true multilateralism to safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
Tomorrow, many of you will leave for Xinjiang and see first-hand what Xinjiang has achieved in its development endeavors. I am sure that during your visit, you will find out why we Chinese fondly call Xinjiang a good place. I am confident that, with the support of African countries and other justice-upholding members of the international community, Xinjiang will make even bigger strides in its development endeavors.
Excellencies, it is time for China and Africa to set sail on a new journey. Let us continue to work with a common purpose, strive to build a China-Africa community with a shared future and write a new chapter in China-Africa friendship and cooperation.
May Africa enjoy prosperity and its people happiness.
May China and Africa enjoy everlasting friendship and flourishing cooperation.