Statement of H.E. Ambassador Hu Zhangliang at the Symposium on China-Africa Relationship
It’s my great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the high level symposium on China-Africa Relations organized by AYV. First of all, I would like to express my deep appreciation to AYV for its wonderful job in making this symposium a reality. And I wish to thank all of you present here or on the line for your passionate support to this important event.
Currently, the world is undergoing profound changes and still suffering from a pandemic unseen in a century. Hegemonism, unilateralism and protectionism are on rise, with economic globalization facing headwinds. The implementation of the UN 2030 SDG is confronted with unprecedented challenges. The future of mankind is at crossroads.
The international community sincerely wishes there will be lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, real multilateralism, mutual respect, open economy and enhanced representation and saying of developing countries in global affairs.
China, as the largest developing country, and Africa, as the continent with the largest number of developing countries, have long been sincere friends and have made important contributions to the building of a better world. Under the new circumstances, China and Africa shoulder more and bigger international responsibilities.
As early as more than 2,000 years ago, there had been exchanges between China and Africa. 600 years ago, Zheng He, a great Chinese navigator of the Ming Dynasty, led the largest fleet of that time to visit the east coast of Africa four times and contributed to the building of China-Africa friendship.
In the 1950s and 1960s and later on, the Chinese government and people provided firm support to African countries and peoples in the latter’s arduous struggle against colonial rule and strive for national independence. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway built by China in the 1970s was hailed by the African people as the “Freedom Railway” and it has been a historic monument in China-Africa friendship.
In 1971, with the precious support of friendly countries including a handsome number of African countries, The People’s Republic of China restored its legitimate seat in the United Nations. Sierra Leone was one of the sponsors of the relevant UNGA resolution.
In 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established and ushered in a new stage of China-Africa relations. High-level exchanges and political trust between China and Africa has been constantly enhanced. China-Africa relationship has been elevated from “a new type of partnership” to “a new type of strategic partnership” and then to “a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership”.
There have been impressive achievements in China-Africa cooperation since the establishment of FOCAC. Up to now, China has helped Africa build or upgrade more than 10,000 kilometers of railways, nearly 100,000 kilometers of roads, nearly 1,000 bridges, about 100 ports, and more than 200,000 kilometers of optical fibers which enabled 6 million African households to have broadband Internet access. China has also helped build numerous hospitals and schools in Africa.
By 2021, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa reached US$43.4 billion, up by nearly 100 times from the year 2000. China-Africa trade reached US$254.2 billion, more than 20 times the size of 2000. China has become Africa’s largest trading partner and the major external driving force for Africa’s economic growth for quite some years.
H.E. President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to the development of China-Africa relations. He personally laid down principles guiding China’s Africa policy, which stresses sincerity, real results, amity, good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests. President Xi leads by example together with his African counterparts in promoting the building of a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future in the era. In 2013, President Xi chose Africa as the destination of his first overseas visit as the Head of State of China. So far, he has visited Africa four times, covering all sub-regions of the continent.
Recently in 2015 and 2018, China and Africa convened two historic FOCAC summits, one in Johannesburg and one in Beijing. In 2020, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 was held at a critical moment in tackling the coronavirus. In November 2021, the 8th Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC was held in Dakar. For 32 years consecutively, Chinese foreign ministers have made Africa the destination of their first visit abroad in a new year.
Over the years, under the framework of FOCAC, China and Africa have developed and implemented a series of cooperation blueprints such as the Ten Cooperation Plans, the Eight Major Initiatives and the Nine Programs for China-Africa cooperation, covering all major areas of development such as people’s livelihood, social and economic progress, innovation, environmental protection, capacity building, and peace and security etc..
So far, China has provided about 120,000 government scholarships to African countries, set up 61 Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms in collaboration with 46 African countries, forged 150 pairs of sister cities, and sent 21,000 doctors and nurses to 48 African countries who helped treating around 220 million patients. All these efforts have consolidated people’s support for China-Africa friendship.
In response to urgent global health crisis such as Ebola and COVID-19, China and Africa have always been together. China has provided about 120 batches of emergency anti-Covid-19 material assistance to African countries and dispatched an additional 300 plus medical personnel to Africa. China has promised to provide 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa, of which 250 million doses have been delivered, and the joint production capacity of vaccines in Africa has reached about 400 million doses. The Africa CDC headquarters constructed with the Chinese government aid is expected to be completed early next year.
China has also played a unique and constructive role in Africa’s peace and security. For long, China has actively participated in the mediation of hot-spot issues in Africa and advocated “African people solve African issues in African ways”. As the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping budget and the largest peacekeepers provider for UN missions among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has actively supported the UN peacekeeping operations in Africa.
On issues of core interests and major concerns to each other, China and Africa have always stood side by side, jointly upholding multilateralism, opposing unilateralism and protectionism, safeguarding the international order and the international system with the United Nations at the core, and promoting the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as well as other basic norms governing international relations. Such cooperation has effectively safeguarded the shared interests of developing countries and the overall interests of the international community.
On 18th August 2022, the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Eighth FOCAC Ministerial Conference was successfully convened. In the unanimously adopted Joint Statement, China and Africa reaffirmed their determination to promote international fairness and justice and uphold the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign countries. The African side stressed on their firm adherence to the one China policy and their firm support for China’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The African side highly appreciated the important role played by China in helping Africa respond to food crisis, energy crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. Both sides agreed to continuously strengthen the FOCAC mechanism, align development strategies of African countries with the Belt and Road initiative, and constantly upgrade Africa-China cooperation.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
China-Sierra Leone relationship is the epitome of China-Africa relations. Over the past 51 years, through the joint efforts of our two governments and peoples, China-Sierra Leone friendly relations have grown robustly and yielded notable results to the satisfaction and pride of both sides. Our two countries have established a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
The Youyi Building, the National Stadium, the Mange Bridge, the Magbass Sugar complex, the RSLAF headquarters, the Bo Stadium, the Jui Hospital, the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Middle School and Primary Schools, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office Building, the second Juba Bridge, the Limkokwing-Regent Road, the Myohaung Officers’ Mess and Single Officers’ Quarters, the National Optical Fiber Backbone Network and the Foreign Service Academy to be completed soon are all landmarks of genuine friendship between China and Sierra Leone.
Our two countries have conducted close high level and people to people exchanges as well as close coordination in regional and international affairs. In 2018, H.E. President Bio visited China and attended the FOCAC Beijing summit. In 2021, H.E. President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation with H.E. President Bio.
In 2019 and 2021, H.E. Mr. Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs of the CPC Central Committee visited Sierra Leone.
In 2021, H.E. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Honorable Foreign Minister David Francis in Dakar while attending the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC. In July this year, H.E. Wang Yi held a telephone conversation with Honorable Minister David Francis. The then Foreign Minister Honorable Nabeela Tunis visited China in 2019.
To support Sierra Leone’s development undertakings, China has sent in several batches of medical teams, military medical experts groups, CDC teams and agricultural experts and has provided to Sierra Leone large quantities of food, medicine, agricultural machinery, vehicles, office equipment and other assistance. In order to help the Sierra Leonean government and people fight COVID-19, the Chinese side took the lead in providing over 15 rounds of emergency assistance including medical masks, gloves, PPEs, testing kits, ventilators and vaccines etc. to Sierra Leone.
China has granted government scholarships to more than 1,200 Sierra Leonean students for them to study in China, and invited more than 5,100 Sierra Leonean people from all walks of life to China for short-term training and exchanges. The Chinese side has cooperated with the Sierra Leonean side in establishing a Confucius Institute at the University of Sierra Leone.
Of course, Sierra Leone has also given precious support to China on issues involving China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, dignity and security.
All these are vivid demonstrations of the special and reliable friendship between China and Sierra Leone.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Why can China and Africa enjoy such a close relationship? I believe the answer lies in the following:
First, China and Africa share similar historical experiences and therefore are naturally bound together. Both China and Africa had long suffered from the aggression and bullying of imperialists and colonialists, and both had struggled hard and supported each other to win independence, liberation and freedom. Our two sides have always stood shoulder to shoulder in opposing hegemony, power politics and unilateralism that threaten our safety and security. And our two sides have firmly defended international justice and equity. As a result, China and Africa have become real friends who can share weal and woe through thick and thin.
Second, China and Africa face similar development tasks and therefore share fundamental common interests. Development and prosperity are the common pursuit of China and Africa. China has become the second largest economy in the world, but it’s per capitaGDP is still not high and it needs to maintain stable and rapid economic growth. Africa has made important achievements in economic and social development, but structural problems still exist with poverty reduction, improvement of people’s livelihood and sustainable development waiting to be addressed. The common development tasks and complementary nature of our economies provide huge space and great opportunitiesfor China-Africa cooperation. China is willing to share its development experiences with Africa unreservedly. Strengthening solidarity and mutually beneficial cooperation is the only right choice for us to realize our respective dreams and common prosperity.
Last but not least, China and Africa have always been upholding the spirit of friendly cooperation, which has laid a solid foundation for our relationship. Just as H.E. President Xi Jinping pointed out, “The key to our close relationship lies in the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation forged between the two sides, which features sincerity, equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness, justice, progressing with the times, openness and inclusiveness.”We can proudly say that sincerity, equality and no political strings attached are the most distinctive features and the greatest advantages of China-Africa cooperation. China-Africa friendship is tangible and serves the fundamental interests of both sides. The spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation is a good tradition and a valuable asset for our two peoples.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
China has succeeded in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and embarked on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country. China is earnestly applying the new development philosophy, creating a new development paradigm, and promoting high-quality development. China’s national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability.
In Mid-October this year, the Communist Party of China will hold its 20th National Congress. This will be an event of great historical significance for China. CPC will continue to resolutely lead the Chinese people to forge ahead bravely on the new journey of greater development. Africa is accelerating integration, industrialization and modernization towards the bright future envisioned in the AU’s Agenda 2063. This forms strategic and historic opportunities for China-Africa cooperation.
China and Africa should continue to jointly safeguard international fairness and justice, jointly safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. Both sides need to take a clear stand against power politics, unilateralism and protectionism in international relations. Both sides need to firmly oppose the attempts by certain countries to stir up bloc confrontation and infringe upon other countries’sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. Both sides need to resist the spreading of political viruses, rumors and fake news by certain countries. Both sides need to say no to certain countries’ acts of arbitrarily imposing unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdictions onto others.
The combined population of China and Africa is 2.7 billion, more than one-third of the world’s total. The combined economy of China and Africa accounts for about 21% of the world’s total. China and Africa should continue to tap the huge potential of practical cooperation and work together to seize the opportunity of the 4thindustrial revolution for common development.
Both sides can fully implement the outcomes of the FOCAC meetings and expand the areas of cooperation, focusing on boosting quality development and further aligning the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative，the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative with those of the AU’s Agenda 2063, the African Continental Free Trade Area and the development strategies of individual African countries.
China and Africa should continue to lead the course for international cooperation with Africa. When China-Africa cooperation thrives, South-South cooperation will flourish. China-Africa cooperation has never been an exclusive one. China welcomes the international community to do more real things in supporting Africa’s peace, stability, development and prosperity.
China hopes that relevant parties will discard the zero-sum cold-war mentality and prevent from making edging out other countries the main objective of their African policy. China is ready to, with the consent of the African side, carry out trilateral or multilateral cooperation in Africa with other parties.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Albeit the great opportunities, China-Africa cooperation is not without challenges, a prominent one of which is the external interference and sabotage. Some countries, instead of thinking about how to strengthen international cooperation and jointly deal with global problems, are busy fanning up geopolitical conflicts and agitating for the decoupling of global industrial chains.
Those countries regard themselves as “preachers of human rights and democracy”, and politicize or weaponize the issues of human rights, economic and trade relations, and environmental protection etc. to defame China and other countries as well as China-Africa cooperation. They try to exhaust all the means to disrupt and poison China-Africa relationship. They concocted the so-called “China debt trap” and other fallacies.
Fortunately, the governments and people of African countries know clearly who their true friends are. History and facts have repeatedly proved that regardless of international vicissitudes and other adversities, China-Africa traditional friendship remains as firm and stable as mountains.
Let us rise above any obstacles and redouble our efforts to promote China-Africa friendly cooperation to a new high.
I wish this symposium a great success! Thank you