BY CHU MOAMING
The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was held in Dakar, capital of Senegal, from November 29 to 30, at which opening ceremony President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech entitled “Uphold the Tradition of Always Standing Together And Jointly Build a China-Africa Community With a Shared Future in the New Era” via video link in Beijing.
The President announces that China will work closely with African countries to implement nine programs under the first three-year plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.
The first one is the medical and health program. To help the African Union (AU) achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as a donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as a joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries. In addition, China will undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa.
The second is the poverty reduction and agricultural development program. China will undertake 10 poverty reduction and agricultural projects for Africa and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa. China will set up a number of China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration, and training in China, encourage Chinese institutions and companies to build in Africa demonstration villages for China-Africa cooperation on agricultural development and poverty reduction, and support the Alliance of Chinese Companies in Africa for Corporate Social Responsibilities in launching the initiative of “100 Companies in 1,000 Villages”.
The third is the trade promotion program. China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, speed up the inspection and quarantine procedures, and further increase the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment for the least developed countries (LDCs) having diplomatic relations with China, in a bid to reach 300 billion US dollars in total imports from Africa in the next three years. China will provide 10 billion US dollars of trade finance to support African export, and build in China a pioneering zone for in-depth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation and a China-Africa industrial park for Belt and Road cooperation. China will undertake 10 connectivity projects for Africa, form an expert group on economic cooperation with the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and give continued support to the development of the AfCFTA.
The fourth is the investment promotion program. China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than 10 billion US dollars in Africa in the next three years and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion. China will undertake 10 industrialization and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of 10 billion US dollars to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB center. China will exempt African LDCs from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2021. China is ready to channel to African countries 10 billion US dollars from its share of the IMF’s new allocation of Special Drawing Rights.
The fifth is the digital innovation program. China will undertake 10 digital economy projects for Africa, set up centers for China-Africa cooperation on satellite remote-sensing application, and support the development of China-Africa joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases. China will work with African countries to expand Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, hold online shopping festivals featuring quality African products and tourism e-commerce promotion activities, and launch a campaign to market 100 African stores and 1,000 African products on e-commerce platforms.
The sixth is the green development program. China will undertake 10 green development, environmental protection, and climate action projects for Africa, support the development of the “Great Green Wall”, and build in Africa centers of excellence on low-carbon development and climate change adaptation.
The seventh is the capacity-building program. China will help build or upgrade 10 schools in Africa and invite 10,000 high-level African professionals to seminars and workshops. We will implement “Future of Africa – a project for China-Africa cooperation on vocational education”, and start an employment “through-train” scheme for African students in China. China will continue to work with African countries to set up “Luban Workshops”, and encourage Chinese companies in Africa to create at least 800,000 local jobs.
The eighth is the cultural and people-to-people exchange program. China will support making all African countries that have diplomatic ties with China-approved destinations for Chinese tourist groups. We will hold African film festivals in China and Chinese film festivals in Africa, as well as a China-Africa youth services forum, and a China-Africa women’s forum.
The ninth is the peace and security program. China will undertake 10 peace and security projects for Africa, continue to deliver military assistance to the AU, support African countries’ efforts to independently maintain regional security and fight terrorism, and conduct joint exercises and on-site training between Chinese and African peacekeeping troops and cooperation on small arms and light weapons control.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. Over the past 65 years, China and Africa have forged unbreakable fraternity in our struggle against imperialism and colonialism and embarked on a distinct path of cooperation in our journey toward development and revitalization. Together, we have written a splendid chapter of mutual assistance amidst complex changes and set a shining example for building a new type of international relations. I am convinced that the concerted efforts of China and Africa will make this FOCAC Conference a full success, one that shall pool the mighty strength of the 2.7 billion Chinese and Africans and guide us toward a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.
Chu, Consul General of the Chinese Consulate wrote from Lagos