Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday published a signed article titled “SUNU JAPPO, China and Senegal!” on mainstream Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil ahead of his state visit to the African country.
The following is the full text of the article:
SUNU JAPPO, China and Senegal!
By Xi Jinping
When talking about Senegal, the Lions of Teranga, its national football team and one of the best in Africa, and the Dakar Rally, the world’s toughest rally, are the first things that come to people’s mind. Senegal is also a country with a time-honored history and rich culture and home to many famous names. Leopold Sedar Senghor, the founding President, was a renowned poet and writer. During his visit to China in 1974, he had a conversation with Chairman Mao Zedong about poem. His works, which champion Negritude, have inspired the people of Senegal and Africa with a strong sense of national pride and confidence.
In recent years, under the leadership of President Macky Sall, Senegal has become a land of robust growth, striding proudly toward the ambitious goals set out in the Plan for an Emerging Senegal. I am looking forward to my upcoming state visit to the country at the invitation of President Sall, an opportunity to enhance our mutual understanding and friendship, deepen cooperation and advance China-Senegal relations.
China-Senegal relations have traversed a journey of 47 years. Over the years, despite the ups and downs or even setbacks at times, the relationship is overwhelmingly defined by mutual support, friendly cooperation and affinity between our peoples. The restoration of diplomatic ties in 2005 opened up a new chapter in China-Senegal relations. China supports Senegal in choosing a development path in line with its national conditions and Senegal firmly supports China on issues concerning China’s core interests. Our two countries now enjoy enhanced political mutual trust, fruitful practical cooperation that benefits both countries and close coordination on major international and regional issues. China-Senegal relationship has been elevated from a long-term friendly cooperative partnership to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Today, China is Senegal’s second largest trading partner and the top importer of Senegalese peanuts. Our trade volume grew by 16 times in just over a decade. China is also Senegal’s biggest source of financing. The many China-funded projects, including the Foundiougne bridge and the Thies-Touba highway, will strongly boost Senegal’s economic growth. The rural water supply project that includes 251 wells and 1800-kilometer pipelines funded by China will benefit one seventh of Senegal’s population. The National Grand Theater, the Museum of Black Civilization and the National Wrestling Arena, built with Chinese assistance, stand as important venues to carry forward the culture and traditions of Senegal.
A Chinese proverb has it that, “Just as distance tests a horse’s strength, time will reveal a person’s sincerity.” Decades ago, President Senghor was deeply touched when he saw Chinese agricultural experts toiling in the field side by side with local Senegalese, mud on their hands. Today, Chinese experts are still out there, working with their Senegalese brothers and sisters on rice and vegetable farming technologies. That’s how friendship has taken deep roots in the hearts of our two peoples. In 2013, Birama Diadji TOURE, a 65-year-old Senegalese, took part in the Experience China knowledge contest and emerged winning the top prize out of 250,000 contestants from all over the world. Birama was later invited to visit China, fulfilling his long-cherished dream. Right now, some 800 Senegalese students are studying in China. The number of business and tourist travels between the two countries have been increasing by over 20% annually. With every telephone call, every email and every handshake, our mutual understanding goes deeper and the bond of friendship becomes stronger.
“Nit, nit ay garabam (Man is the remedy of man)”, says a Wolof proverb. Similarly, there is a Chinese saying to the effect of “one for all, all for one”. Having gone through thick and thin together, China, Senegal and the vast African countries are bound by similar historical experience, same development tasks and shared aspiration for a better life. To achieve common development and prosperity, we need to join hands to build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
In 2013, I put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pathway to common development through improved infrastructure and connectivity and greater synergy of development strategies. It has been warmly welcomed by Senegal and many other African countries, who have since shown great interest in joining the BRI cooperation. This September, a Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Beijing. By bringing together the BRI, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2063 of the African Union and African countries’ national development plans, the summit will break new grounds for China-Africa cooperation. It also presents us with an opportunity to elevate China-Senegal relations to a higher level.
We need to uphold equality and mutual trust. As good friends and partners who trust and help each other with sincerity, China and Senegal need to adopt a long-term approach in growing our bilateral relationship and firmly support each other on issues of core interests and major concern.
We need to foster greater synergy between our strategies. Senegal’s economy is at a crucial juncture. And China is seeking high-quality development. As such, China stands ready to increase exchange on governance with Senegal and share China’s experience from four decades of reform and opening up, including industrial development, rural vitalization and poverty alleviation, which will be beneficial to both of our countries.
We need to deepen practical cooperation. Leveraging the BRI and the platform of FOCAC, China will work with Senegal to tap our respective strengths in the trade and processing of agricultural and aquatic products, infrastructure, production capacity, industrial parks and human resources development, all of which are important for Senegal’s capability to achieve home-grown development. China also wishes to have closer discussions and cooperation with Senegal to see to it that financing arrangements are based on sound planning, economically feasible and done in a step-by-step manner, thus ensuring their sustainability.
We need to strengthen people-to-people ties. It’s important to further friendly exchange between our education and research institutions, cultural and art groups, media and youth organizations so that the express train of China-Senegal cooperation will speed ahead smoothly.
We need to enhance cooperation on regional and international affairs. China will step up communication and coordination with Senegal on major issues relating to the UN, upholding the multilateral trading regime, climate change and peace and development of Africa. We also look forward to working with Senegal under FOCAC to strengthen mechanisms of the forum and more broadly, the relationship between China and African countries.
Similar dreams and shared destiny have brought the Chinese and Senegalese people together. It is thus our shared mission to join hands and bring our mutually beneficial cooperation to greater fruition. Sunu Jappo, China and Senegal!
His Excellency, Xi is President of the People’s Republic of China