By Fredrick P. W. Gaye in Beijing, China /008618510699710
Representatives from 53 member states of China-Africa Cooperation will gather in Beijing, China, on July 29, 2016, to review the progress made so far in the implementation of outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit held December 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. They will also discuss plans and think for further progress.
Addressing Chinese and African journalists Friday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said that the preparatory work of the event has entered the final stage. “Both sides have reached an agreement on the main arrangements. With African countries’ active engagement, up to now, all African member nations and the African Union Commission have been confirmed to send high-level delegations to attend the meeting, which fully reflects that both sides have set a premium on it,” Mr. Zhang said.
According to China’s proposal, China and South Africa, co-chairs of the FOCAC, will jointly hold the gathering, which is dubbed as ‘Sherpa Meeting’.
Leaders from Chinese State Council and Chad deputies representing African Union (AU) areexpected to deliver speeches at the opening ceremony, Mr. Zhang revealed, adding, “Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, commerce minister Gao Hucheng and South African foreign minister Nkoana Mashabane will make work reports on current outcome-implementation and future cooperation plans.”
The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister further explained that the gathering will also issue a joint statement as outcome document.
At the same time, Mr. Zhang said before or after the meeting, there will be a series of supporting activities, including China-Africa Economic and Trade cooperation Exchange Conference; signing ceremonies of bilateral cooperation agreements among governments, departments, financial institutions and enterprises, and dialogue between directors from Chinese financial institutions and African coordinators responsible for the implementation of the outcomes.
In this regard, he said China will also organize participants to visit the Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province in southeastern China.
Responding to journalists’ concern about the US$60 billion funding support President Xi Jinping announced at the Johannesburg Summit, Mr. Zhang said the fundsare mainly used for building infrastructure in Africa, helping Africa improve its development & investment environment, and enhancing independent capacity for its sustainable development, while funds from China mainly flow to Chinese enterprises for their investments in Africa.
However, he was quick to note that no matter loans or funds, they are all distributed based on projects which can generate economic and social benefits.
“Before applicants receive loans, feasible studies of related projects are required, and after their completion, those projects can realize independent and sustainable development. Given that these loans and funds are valuable social resources, both sides have the responsibility to spend them in a safe and effective way,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr. Zhang reiterated his country’s position, ruling out any competition with the West in Africa, as may be perceived, saying, “Africa is not an arena, nor is it anyone’s sphere of influence.” He said Africa belongs to itself; and that African people are the only host of Africa, having right to choose partners and cooperation forms.
According to him, as an important component of the international community, a strong Africa leads to a strong world, an affluent Africa leads to an affluent world, and a peaceful Africa also guarantees the world’s overall peace and security.
China, he said, aspires to support the diverse developments of its African partners and if the international community helps Africa’s development based on equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect and making full use of their unique characteristics and advantages, the world will become more harmonious, prosperous and stable. Mr. Zhang was responding to a journalist’s question.
It can be recalled that during in his speech at the Johannesburg Summit last year, President Xi announced an upgrade of Sino-Africa relations to comprehensive strategic partnership level, and put forward 10 major cooperation projects in Africa FOR three years (2016-2019) with a $60 billion funding pledge.
Mr. Zhang said since the conclusion of the summit, China and Africa have attached great importance to the outcome-implementation of the Summit. National leaders and high-rank officials from both sides have exchanged visits to promote the implementation of the outcomes in person. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC; Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC, and Yang Jiechi, Wang Yong, both state councilors, visited Africa in succession. Several African head of states also visited China. With concerted efforts of both sides, the outcomes have been carried out smoothly, and some cooperation projects have born early fruits.
Be as it may,he admitted that some problems emerged during the process. Under these circumstances, for the benefits of Chinese and African people, both sides will review the progress made in the implementation of the Johannesburg Summit’s outcomes, and discuss plans and thinking for further progress, he indicated.