Remarks By H.E. Zhang Ming Vice Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China At the International Conference On the Emergence of Africa [document]

Abidjan, 18 March 2015

Your Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire,

Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to come to the picturesque city of Abidjan and join you in this important discussion on Africa’s development. I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government, warm congratulations on the convening of the conference and appreciation for the thoughtful preparations and arrangements by the government of Côte d’Ivoire.

In the last few years, I have paid many visits to Africa, which took me to almost all corners of this continent and enabled me to see new changes and make new discoveries first hand. Today’s Africa is a land brimming with vigor and vitality: an increasing number of high-rises, an expanding network of highways and railways, bustling streets, cleaner drinking water, better supplies of medical equipment, longer average life expectancy, more students in classrooms, mothers beaming with happiness, and the eyes of children sparkling with hope. Such scenes of burgeoning development remind me of the early years of China’s reform and opening-up and reinforce my expectations for a brighter future of development in Africa.

However, just as human history progresses amidst twists and turns, Africa’s journey of revitalization has not been smooth sailing and it is confronted with multiple challenges. Africa remains the most underdeveloped continent in the world with a weak foundation for sustainable development and the daunting task of meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

As Africa’s good partner, good friend and good brother, China rejoices at Africa’s promising future and empathizes with Africa’s difficulties in development. Looking back, in the 1950s and 60s when China itself was faced with extreme hardships at home, we resolutely supported African brothers in pursuing national independence and political liberation. Looking ahead, in this new historical period, China will continue to support African countries in pursuing economic liberation and bringing progress and prosperity to their people, so that Africa’s independence is rooted in a more solid and stable footing.

―China has the strong political commitment to support Africa’s development. In 2013, President Xi Jinping came to Africa on his first foreign trip as the head of state. He laid down the principles for China’s engagement with Africa, namely, “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith” and the guideline of upholding principles and pursuing shared interests, which sent a powerful signal of China’s enduring commitment to valuing friendship with Africa and supporting Africa’s development. Last year, Premier Li Keqiang also visited Africa and put forward proposals for “six major areas” of China-Africa cooperation as well as the building of “three major networks”, painting a broad blueprint for cooperation between the two sides.

―China has the successful experience which may serve as a reference for Africa. Back in China, we started from an old China, which was weak and poor, and turned the country into a land of initial prosperity and great development opportunities. This is a leapfrog of the traditional pathway for national development, during which we gained rich governance experience on economic, political, cultural, social and ecological fronts, and moved ever closer to realizing the Chinese dream of great national renewal. We have not only fed 22% of the world’s population with less than 9% of its arable land, but also significantly improved the Chinese people’s lives. All the successful experience can be shared with fellow developing countries. Both China and Africa belong to the developing world, and we have similar historical experience, development goals and development visions, China’s experience can be highly relevant and useful for Africa.

―China has the capability to help Africa realize its dream together with the international community. As the second largest economy and the largest developing country in the world, China has full-fledged industrial systems, advanced technologies, rich experience in construction, quality yet affordable equipment and relatively adequate development funds. These are exactly what is needed in Africa’s development, setting the stage for the practical and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa for common development. According to Standard & Poor’s measures, every one percentage point growth in China’s GDP generates 0.3 percentage point growth in low-income African countries and 0.4 percentage point growth in middle-income African countries. A study of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that China-Africa cooperation contributed 20% to African economic growth. Sustained medium-high-level growth of the Chinese economy will be an important force propelling continued fast growth of Africa.

China has always been a firm advocator, supporter and promoter of and participant in African development and prosperity. Since 2006, China has more than quadrupled its assistance to Africa, trained over 60,000 African personnel in various fields and built more than 1,000 complete projects that are closely related to African people’s welfare and development.

As an old Chinese saying goes, “a gentleman should be true to his commitment and honor his commitment with concrete actions.” This has long been a principle guiding the conduct of the Chinese people, and China has honored its commitment to Africa with concrete and real efforts. Here, let me give you an example which happened not long ago in Africa, that is, China’s assistance for Africa in fighting Ebola. After the outbreak of the epidemic, China, committed to its principle, was the first to send a chartered flight carrying aides to an affected country, prompting the following assistance of the international community to Africa. So far, China has provided aides worth RMB750 million and deployed nearly 1,000 medical workers. Apart from the three most severely affected countries, China also provided aides to Côte d’Ivoire and other nine countries in the neighborhood. These efforts have helped put up a regional network of epidemic control in West Africa, making an important contribution to prevent the cross-border transmission and the end of the outbreak.

Some may ask why China pays such high attention and provides so much support to Africa. My answer is that firstly it is because of the profound friendship China has forged with Africa over the past half a century and more, and secondly, it is because of the greater convergence of interests and shared destiny between the two sides. As we in China put it, “A bosom friend afar brings a distant land near”. Although far apart geographically, China and Africa have been brought together by similar experiences and common pursuit of national independence, peace and development. We understand that, in today’s world of ours, when Africa and China prosper, the whole world will prosper. If Africa falls ill, China will feel the pain, and the rest of the world will have to take pills. That is why China has always put Africa high on its agenda, been committed to its friendship, cooperation and solidarity with African countries and to promoting common prosperity of China and Africa. This is a long-term policy underpinning China’s diplomacy. This policy follows people’s aspiration and has won their strong support. Supporting Africa is what we ought to do.

Then, one might ask further how China helps and supports Africa.

China will continue to uphold the principles of sincerity, friendship, equality, mutual benefit, win-win cooperation and common development, and focus on the following areas.

First, we will give full play to the role of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and take concrete steps to bring tangible benefits to Africa’s development. 2015 is an important year to build on past achievements and look forward to the future. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of FOCAC, and the Sixth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC will be held in South Africa. China will take the conference as an opportunity to introduce new measures for China-Africa cooperation over the next three years in accordance with Africa’s needs and aspirations as well as China’s advantages and capability, to assist Africa in its endeavor to eliminate poverty and achieve its development goals.

Second, we will enhance the sharing of experience on governance and support Africa in exploring its own development path. Many of our foreign friends are very curious about the secret of China’s success. Actually, there is only one reason behind the quantum leap the Chinese nation has made from “standing up” to “becoming strong”, that is, we have stayed committed to a development path suited to our national conditions. We stand ready to further share with African countries our hard-won experience in promoting economic growth and social progress, and contribute more Chinese wisdom, Chinese plans and Chinese ideas for Africa’s development, and help African countries to blaze an effective development path suited to their respective national conditions.

Third, we will vigorously advance cooperation with Africa in building infrastructure and production capacity to promote Africa’s economic takeoff. Right now, China is going through economic transformation and industrial upgrading, which gives a strong boost for many competitive industries to go global. Last year, China’s outbound investment exceeded US$100 billion. While Africa is accelerating industrialization and is in great need of infrastructure, capital, technology, industrial equipment and management expertise, which make Africa an attractive destination for relocated industries. This provides an enormous potential and broad prospects for China and Africa to cooperate in infrastructure development and forge industrial complementarity. Not long ago, the Chinese government and the African Union (AU) signed the memorandum of understanding on the promotion of cooperation in railway, road, regional aviation networks and industrialization fields. China will actively support the Agenda 2063 adopted by the 24th AU Summit, which draws a master plan for Africa’s development over the next 50 years. We will place greater emphasis on sharing with Africa the way to fish and help Africa to build nest to attract phoenixes, so to speak. We will encourage and guide more Chinese companies to develop infrastructure, make investment and start businesses in Africa, in an effort to make cooperation on production capacity a new highlight in China-Africa cooperation, and help Africa advance industrialization and achieve economic takeoff.

Fourth, we will be more active in playing a constructive role in Africa’s peace and security affairs to help foster an enabling environment for Africa’s development. Experience of China and other countries shows that without peace and stability, there can be no development. The political situation in Africa is on the whole stable, but in some areas, maintaining peace and stability remains a serious challenge. China will continue to deepen cooperation on peace and security with the AU and African countries, be more active in taking a constructive part in resolving the hot-spot issues in Africa, and increase its support for African countries to independently address issues in the region. We are confident that, with its growing capacity in maintaining peace and stability independently, Africa will be able to maintain political and social stability and long-term security and realize sustainable development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Globalization has turned the world into a global village where no country can achieve development in isolation and common development can be realized only through cooperation. China’s development is closely linked with that of Africa, and global prosperity is impossible without Africa. Progress of Africa will light up our planet home. To help and support Africa is the due responsibility and obligation of the international community. We call upon the international community to work together to further increase assistance to and investment in Africa, honor its commitment to Africa, and help Africa translate its potential strength in resources and human capital into real development advantages.

As one of the cradles of human civilization, Africa has a glorious history. As our African friends tell us, if you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together. We are convinced that with the efforts of the African people and the assistance of the international community, this ancient land will unleash tremendous vitality, realize the dream of prosperity and revitalization and embrace a splendid new future.

I wish this conference a complete success. Thank you.