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Follow-up meeting to FOCAC summit lays out plan of action

Author  :  Li Xinfeng     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2016-08-23

A meeting to follow up on agreements reached at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) took place in Beijing on July 29, seven months after the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to the meeting. State Councilor Yang Jiechi attended the opening ceremony and read Xi’s congratulatory letter aloud.

This high-level meeting represents the progress China and Africa have made in their partnership, and the vast prospects for more cooperation and mutual benefit.

At the Johannesburg summit, Xi pledged to implement 10 plans for cooperation with Africa that will be implemented over the next three years, laying the groundwork for a comprehensive strategic partnership and a new era of common development.

China convened the meeting to assess the outcomes of FOCAC’s most recent summit and put into practice its agenda.

More than 240 agreements worth a total of $50.7 billion were signed. The two primary forms of financial aid to Africa—investment and commercial loans—totaled $46 billion, accounting for 91 percent of the total package. According to official statistics, 2.4 billion people from both sides will benefit from the proposed plans.

In light of the slowdown in the global economy, the two sides are facing new challenges. The international community is closely watching China’s next steps to see if it can achieve what it has promised.

But as the saying goes, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Through joint efforts, the two sides have taken swift and decisive actions while making substantial progress. China has made clear its willingness to accept responsibility for its role in the international order and to act in a manner befitting a major country, which entails upholding the values of friendship and justice. China’s actions have been applauded by African countries and the international community.

To date, more than 30 African countries have set up an internal coordination mechanism and designated ministerial-level coordinators to implement the outcomes. Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s coordinator on implementing agreements of the summit, said now the relationship between China and Africa is not one between donor and receiver but one between equal partners.

“We must understand that the coordinator’s meeting is taking place at a time when the global economy is facing severe crises, when access to funding for development is very difficult to come by, but China has come forward to push this cooperation,” he said, adding that China’s assistance has been a great blessing for Africa.

FOCAC is a strategic mechanism to advance the objectives of cooperation between China and Africa, and the recent coordinators meeting is an organic part of this mechanism. It shows that FOCAC is promoting the healthy and rapid development of China-Africa relations.

Both sides not only reviewed the results for jointly implementing the outcomes but also pointed out the direction, focus and path to future work.

For example, in the joint statement of the meeting, both sides agreed to follow five cooperative concepts: common development, intensive development, green development, safe development and open development.

According to the statement, China-Africa cooperation will never be pursued at the expense of Africa’s ecosystem and long-term interests. It also stated that both sides will uphold the concepts of openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit while welcoming the international community to contribute more to building lasting peace and fostering sustainable development in Africa.

This year marks the sixth decade since diplomatic ties were first established between New China and the African countries.

“The meeting demonstrates to the world once again that no matter how the international landscape may change, the resolve of China and Africa to pursue unity and mutual benefit will never change, and China’s support for Africa’s peace and development will never change,” Xi said in his congratulatory message to the meeting. Xi’s words are a solemn promise for a bright future for mutually beneficial cooperation and common development between China and Africa.

 

The article was translated from People’s Daily.is an expert in African studies and deputy editor-in-chief of Social Sciences in China Press.

Editor: Yu Hui

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