FOCAC: Walking The Talk as Equals

China and Africa hold coordinators’ meeting on outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit, writes Zhou Pingjian

The coordinators’ meeting on the implementation of the FOCAC Beijing Summit outcomes will be held on June 24 and 25 in Beijing. Ministerial-level officials from China and 53 African member states including Nigeria and the African Union Commission will be attending the meeting. The upcoming event will consist mainly of an opening ceremony, a plenary session, a closing ceremony, a joint press conference, a welcome banquet and a dialogue between heads of Chinese financial institutions and African coordinators.

Party and state leaders of China will attend important activities and hold group or bilateral meetings with African delegates.
A joint declaration will be released regarding the outcomes and consensus reached during the meeting. Immediately after the coordinators’ meeting in Beijing, on June 26 and 27, the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, an outcome of FOCAC Beijing Summit, will be held in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan Province in central China.

In September last year, the FOCAC Beijing Summit was held with great success, bringing China-Africa relations to a historical high. After the conclusion of the summit, China and African countries worked closely with each other to implement our leaders’ consensus and outcomes reached at the summit. We have achieved important progress and reaped early harvests.

As the international landscape undergoes profound and complicated changes, the two sides both believe it necessary to have a coordinators’ meeting to communicate over implementation and steer China-Africa cooperation along the direction of high-quality and sustainable development. Through this meeting, we will translate outcomes of the summit into more benefits for the people and show our strong will and firm resolve to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, uphold multilateralism and build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

Following the principle of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, China stands ready to work with the African side to make good preparation for a successful meeting and inject new impetus into the China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership. China-Africa cooperation stands out with its pragmatism, effectiveness and results-oriented, which are also the unique advantage of the FOCAC, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

The FOCAC was incepted in 2000. The past 19 years have seen fruitful progress in China-Africa practical cooperation across the board. As a key platform for the collective dialogue and cooperation between China and African countries, the FOCAC has become a model of South-South cooperation and a banner of international cooperation with Africa. The benefits of China-Africa cooperation are abundantly clear. China has proved itself to be a reliable partner of Africa by always walking the talk.

China-Nigeria cooperation has always been a pacesetter for China-Africa cooperation. Under the strategic guidance of |President Xi Jinping and President Muhammadu Buhari, the implementation work of the FOCAC outcome has been going smoothly with prominent achievements in Nigeria in recent years. The commissioning of Abuja Light Railway and the new airport terminals in Port Harcourt and Abuja, the ongoing construction of Zungeru Hydropower Plant, Abuja-Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi Road, as well as Lagos-Ibadan Railway and Lekki Deep Seaport, the booming Ogun Guandong Free Trade Zone and Lekki Free Trade Zone, the fruitful promotion of the “Made in Nigeria with China” initiative, etc.

Though the world economic growth remains sluggish, the international situation is exposed to prominent unstable factors, and even the trade war provoked by the US deteriorates, China has never unilaterally drawn rein in cooperation with Nigeria and other African countries. Last month, President Buhari, while receiving in audience the Chairman of China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, has expressed appreciation to China’s “genuine efforts to improve our infrastructural development”. The President said, “We are very grateful to China for the effort to rebuild our infrastructure, and for bringing technical expertise to the country. We will give the required support and cooperation, so that our old, out of date, and collapsed infrastructure might be turned around”. China highly appreciates the positive remarks on China-Nigeria cooperation made by President Buhari.

China-Africa cooperation has always been open and transparent. China welcomes the concerted efforts made by the international community to support Africa in achieving peace, stability and development. Some allegations by some people in the international community however, are biased and not fact-based. Take the concessionary loan provided by China to African countries. Has it increased the debt burden of countries concerned? Are there any political considerations behind it? The answers are definitely negative, contrary to the claim. That kind of claim, I should say, is full of groundless words with an attempt out of ulterior motives. When providing its financing support to African countries including Nigeria, China has always adhered to the following principles in the process:

First, the response made to the development demand of Africa itself. Based on the wishes put forward by the African countries, China provides financing support within its due capacity and offers timely assistance to the economic and social development of the African countries, which has been unanimously recognized and welcomed by all countries. Secondly, never attach any political conditions. Like African countries, China had a painful experience of suffering unfair treatment and even being exploited and oppressed. Therefore, China will never do what the western countries have done or impose its will on others no matter in assistance or cooperation.

Thirdly, stick to the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results. The nature of China-Africa cooperation is South-South cooperation, one of whose major characteristics is equal treatment, mutual benefit and win-win results. The financing support provided by China must undergo serious feasibility studies and market-oriented arguments.

The current debt owned by some African countries was accumulated over a long period of time instead of occurring in recent years. China is not a main creditor of African countries. The solution to debt issues is to achieve diversified economic development by taking the path of sustainable development. China firmly supports this solution. China’s financing support to Africa is mainly invested in infrastructure construction and the productive field. The Chinese companies have built a large number of infrastructure projects such as highways, railways, ports, airports and communications facilities in Africa, which greatly improved the environment for Africa’s economic development, added to its appeal to foreign investment and enhanced its capability to achieve self-driven development.

There is a saying in China that “Only your feet can tell whether your shoes are suitable or not”. Africa has the best say on China’s cooperation with Africa. African people will have their own judgment and naturally come to the fair conclusion that who helps Africa sincerely and who is the most reliable partner of Africa.

As the largest developing country in the world, China highly values its strategic partnership with Nigeria, the largest developing country in Africa. Following the principle of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, China is ready to work with Nigeria, through the integration of the two countries’ development strategies and the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit promptly and efficiently, to step up the Belt and Road cooperation and bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples.
––Dr Pingjian is Ambassador of China to Nigeria

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