FOCAC Opens Up More Economic, Development Opportunities – As China Stresses Implementation

{By Fredrick P. W. Gaye in Beijing, China}

Liberian delegation (behind the flag) : Amb. Grigsby (Min.), Deputy Min. Zuo & Amb.Thomas
Liberian delegation (behind the flag) : Amb. Grigsby (Min.), Deputy Min. Zuo & Amb.Thomas

All African governments and institutions have to do now is to put in place mechanisms that will bring to reality the 10 action plans advanced by China under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). FOCAC is creating the platform for more opportunities that lead Africa to industrialization and modernization with increasing Chinese investment.

Under the action plans, announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit December last year, with a US$60 billion fund support, about 243 cooperation agreements have been signed between Chinese government, institutions and African countries.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi made the disclosure at the the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the FOCAC Johannesburg held July 29, 2016, in Beijing, China.

Yang said the agreements worth US$50.725 billion, including US$46 billion of Chinese direct investment in and commercial loans to Africa, accounting for 91% of the total value of the agreements.

While efforts are being made to implement the Johannesburg Summit outcomes, Yang said the Beijing event was aimed at taking stock of the delivery of the outcomes, to align their thinking, build consensus, overcome challenges and difficulties, share experience and promotion cooperation, among other.

The Chinese State Councilor stated that both sides are committed to win-win cooperation and common development.

However, he stressed the need for collective efforts in the implementation if the Chinese and African people must show to the world their strong determination to promote solidarity through cooperation.

“We Chinese often say that planning contributes 10 percent to the success of an undertaking while 90 percent of the success lies in implementation. In this first year after the Johannesburg Summit, it is our shared expectation to see the early implementation of its outcomes so as to deliver more benefits to the Chinese and African people,” Yang said.

Yang was quick to point out that more than 30 African countries have established internal coordination mechanisms and designated ministerial-level coordinators to implement the outcomes, adding, “Presidents and prime ministers of several countries have even taken on the responsibility themselves.”

He also highlighted five pillars of FOCAC to strengthen in working with Africa, including sharing weal and woe; remaining good partners for common development; increasing inter-civilization exchanges; promoting peace and stability; and and broadening cooperation in international affairs.

At the same time, Yang read President Xi’s message at the meeting. The Chinese President, according to the message, the Coordinators’ Meeting was not only an important action by China and Africa to implement the consensus of Chinese and African leaders and the outcomes of the FOCAC Summit, but also a major measure to assist the development of China-Africa cooperation. “Paying high attention to its relations with Africa, China will continue to adhere to the principles towards Africa featuring sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith as well as the correct viewpoint of righteousness and benefit,” the message maintained. He indicated that China will take solid steps to implement the outcomes of the summit, and constantly enrich and develop China-Africa comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

Also speaking at the meting was Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, who explained how progress have been under various plans including industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, public health, financial, green development, trade and investment facilitation. He further named poverty reduction, cultural and people-to-people, peace and security as plans being implemented.

Gao said China is stepping up economic transformation and restructuring while pursuing the “Belt and Road” Initiative and international cooperation on capacity and equipment manufacturing. “China is the largest developing country and the fastest growing major economy, while Africa is the fastest developing continent with most developing countries,” he added.

The Chinese Commerce Minister admitted that the global economic crisis has been affecting Chinese and African economies; thus stressing the need for China and Africa to strengthen their confidence.

Speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at the meeting, Liberia’s Minister of State Without Portfolio, Sylvester M. Grigsby, praised organizers and said the gathering reaffirms the longstanding strong bond of friendship and cooperation between Africa and China based on equality and mutual respect. Grigsby noted that the huge turnout was a testimony to the strength and intensity of the Africa-China relationship.

He explained that since the FOCAC Project was launched in 2000, Chinese funded footprint projects have sprouted across the landscape of the African Continent. “Many of these projects including railways, highways and industrial plants have been conspicuously located in regions to bring light and better livelihood to millions who otherwise would never have benefited from such amenities in their lifetimes if investment were to be determined strictly by the traditional profit motive,” the Liberia’s State Minister said.

Grigsby recounted China’s assistance, saying that the country has increasingly become the engine of growth for the global economy, so has China’s development assistance graduated from being perceived as a source of alternative development.  Today, he said, China is a major donor partner, being an architect of the China/Africa Development Fund, the Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS Bank.

After a decade and a half of Chinese assistance under FOCAC, Minister Grigsby intimated that it would be interesting to conduct an objective assessment of the program and its impact. There should be a large body of data for such an exercise.

He then used the occasion to commend the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China for the enormous support given in combating the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa. “We are delighted that the Johannesburg Action Plan (2016-2018) incorporates post-Ebola recovery efforts that will bring an end to the Ebola plague. We want to encourage Chinese investment in medical and healthcare services as well as to improve healthcare infrastructure through construction, renovation and equipping of health facilities,” he maintained.

About 300 people, including over 100 ministerial officials of 53 FOCAC members, representatives from more than 30 member units of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the FOCAC and African diplomatic envoys to China, attended the meeting. Liberian delegation to the meeting included: Minister of State Without Portfolio, Mr. Sylvester M. Grigsby, Liberian Ambassador to China, Mr. Dudley McKinley Thomas, and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for International Cooperation & Economic Integration, Mr. Dehpue Zuo.

 

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About Cholo Brooks 13487 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.