Unfazed by the ravaging and disruptive novel coronavirus pandemic, a new international air cargo route linking the central Chinese city of Wuhan and Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa was launched at the end of last month.
The new air route, whose maiden flight brought testing kits, face masks and other urgently needed materials to Africans fighting to contain the outbreak, reflects the vitality of China-Africa cooperation for which the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has been constantly working over the past 20 years.
Through two decades of cultivation, FOCAC has grown into a key platform for collective dialogue and practical cooperation between China and African countries, and has also maintained a leading position in global cooperation with Africa.
At the first ministerial conference of FOCAC held in Beijing on Oct. 10 in 2000, China and Africa proposed a new type of partnership featuring long-term stability, equality and mutual benefit. Upholding such a spirit, FOCAC has yielded tangible results in promoting win-win cooperation between the two sides and also the development of the African continent. Over the years, China has been helping boost Africa’s industrialization process and enhance its capacity for independent development.
It has built over 6,000 km of railways and roads, as well as nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power plants across the continent. The launch of FOCAC has moved South-South cooperation to a whole new level in the 21st century, providing a new strategic framework for collaboration in Africa’s industrialization and infrastructure, said Peter Kagwanja, CEO of regional think tank Africa Policy Institute, in a commentary published in Kenyan newspaper Sunday Nation.
Moreover, China has been serving as a strong driving force for Africa’s sustained economic growth. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and bilateral trade exceeded 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. China’s stock of direct investment in Africa has reached 110 billion dollars, and over 3,700 Chinese enterprises have invested and started businesses in various parts of Africa. The booming China-Africa cooperation has also made countries worldwide further recognise the potential for investment and growth in the continent. “Through FOCAC and other forums, China has worked to ensure that Africa’s development is prominent on the international agenda,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the 2018 Beijing Summit of the FOCAC.
Apart from these achievements, the FOCAC mechanism has also risen to become a key venue for the two sides to weather rising global crises and challenges together. Earlier this year, when China was fighting hard against the novel coronavirus, many African countries rushed to the aid of the Chinese people, delivering badly needed medical supplies.
Later, China has also extended a helping hand to the continent when it is under the attack of the virus. According to a communique issued on June 13 by the African Union, China ensured the supply of 30 million testing kits, 10,000 ventilators and 80 million masks each month for Africa, a “significant contribution.”
Just as Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in June, “the solidarity we have seen during this difficult time has once again demonstrated the productivity” of FOCAC.
Reviewing past achievements is indeed essential. But what is more important for the two sides is to look to the future and continue to enhance their mutually beneficial cooperation as the international community has again come to a critical juncture. Despite rising unilateralism and protectionism, cooperation and development should remain the mainstream of international relations in this age of global interdependence.
Having reached a new historical starting point, FOCAC can be one of the key platforms in support of multilateralism, a fair and transparent system of international trade and a global economic architecture that promotes the shared interests of the developing world. As close and friendly partners, China and African countries should carry on their FOCAC spirit of cooperation, and jointly open up a better future for both sides as well as the whole world.