Deepening Friendly Cooperation and Achieving Mutual Benefits and Win-Win Results
- Lu Guozeng Briefs on the Issuance of China's African Policy Paper
On January 12, 2006, Assistant Foreign Minister Lu Guozeng held a briefing for Chinese and foreign journalists and the news officers of foreign embassies in China, elaborating on China's African Policy Paper issued by the Chinese government. The briefing was hosed by Kong Quan, Director-General of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lu first introduced the background for the issuance of the paper and the contents of the paper. He said that on May 30, 1956, China established diplomatic ties with Egypt, the first African country that established diplomatic ties with China, initiating the process of establishing diplomatic ties between China and other African countries. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the process and it is worthy of commemoration. The purpose of choosing to issue the African Policy Paper on such an occasion is to show to the international community that the Chinese government attaches great importance to Africa and wishes that China-Africa relations could achieve greater progress in the new ear and under new circumstances.
China's African Policy Paper reviewed the course of China-Africa friendship, expounded China's view on Africa's role and position, and made master plans for the friendly cooperation between China and Africa in political, economic, cultural, social and other fields in the new era. The paper particularly pointed out that the Chinese government will proceed from the fundamental interests of both the Chinese and African peoples, establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership with Africa, featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange. This will be the guidelines and fundamental principles of China's African work in the coming years. We believe that the issuance of the paper will further consolidate China-Africa friendship, promote China-Africa cooperation, motivate the international community to prioritize the cooperation with Africa and therefore benefit the harmonized and balanced growth of the world.
After the introduction, Lu answered the questions raised by journalists.
In the area of economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa, Lu said that it has been growing fast in recent years. In terms of trade, the trade volume between China and Africa in the 1950s was a little more than USD 10 million while it rose to over USD 10 billion in 2000, over USD 30 billion in 2004, and over USD 40 billion in 2005. Moreover, China also maintained good cooperation with African countries in other areas. For instance, China actively participated in the projects of assisting African countries in their infrastructure development, which amounted to nearly 800 projects over the past 5 decades. In recent years, Chinese enterprises contracted many projects in Africa and participated in the economic construction of African countries, with the contract value reaching USD 38.7 billion on an accumulative basis. China and Africa also carried out cooperation in the resources area such as iron mines and rare metals. Some of these cooperative projects are well under way and some are in the process of negotiation. Furthermore, China also carried out cooperation with countries in the southern Africa in the area of minerals and with countries in central Africa in the area of forest and timber resources. China carried out satisfactory cooperation with African countries in their infrastructure construction by means of economic assistance and preferential loans. The majority of these infrastructures were urgently-needed public welfare facilities, such as hospitals, stadiums, roads and railways. China also conducted sound cooperation with African countries in the field of human resources development. In November 2003, Premier Wen Jiabao declared at the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that China will provide training for 10,000 African talents between 2004 and 2006, averaging 3,000 to 4,000 a year. This goal has been initially achieved this year. Moreover, China and African countries conducted medical and health cooperation. Since 1963 when China dispatched the first medical team to Algeria, China has altogether dispatched 15,000 medical staffs to 47 African countries, treating over 180 million person times. Over 40 Chinese doctors sacrificed their lives on the African continent. The African people sang high praise for Chinese medical teams. The cultural exchange between China and Africa is long lasting. Both sides exchanged their cultural and artistic troupes. China hosted MEET IN BEIJING Arts Festival, the Chinese Cultural Tour in Africa, and China-Africa Youth Festival with the African continent as a leading continent. China also sent out some cultural and artistic troupes on an African tour and received African cultural and artistic troupes in China. The African culture, either music or dance, is very unique. Both sides had a lot of exchanges in this area. China also trained some acrobats for African countries.
Talking of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Lu said that the forum was founded in 2000 in Beijing. The 3rd Ministerial Meeting will be held this year. China and Africa agreed to hold the 2006 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the 3rd Ministerial Meeting in Beijing to discuss the proposals for the cooperation in all areas in the next years and come out with relevant documents. In September 2005, President Hu Jintao made 5-point proposal at the UN High-Level Panel on Financing for Development to assist developing nations, particularly African countries, in their development process. The China-Africa Summit 2006 will discuss how to implement the proposals.
With regard to China's investment to Africa, Lu noted that China's investment to Africa is still in the initial stage. At present the investment volume only amounted to around USD 1 billion. African countries aspire to attract more investment from China and have requested China to increase the investment and encourage Chinese enterprises to cooperate with African companies to create more employment opportunities for local people. The Chinese government is very positive on this and encourages Chinese enterprises to develop their business in Africa. China and Africa enjoy a bright prospect for mutual investment. China is working actively with African countries to establish the Confederation Chinese and African Enterprises or China-Africa Chamber of Commerce to promote the cooperation and investment between the enterprises. Chinese enterprises enjoy great potentials in terms of investment in Africa. Africa is abundant in natural resources, which are indispensable for the economic growth of China. In the meantime, African countries wish to accumulate capitals for economic development through resources development. Therefore, both sides are highly complementary. Chinese enterprises are highly motivated to make investment in Africa. But they need to increase their understanding of Africa, which also needs to know more about Chinese enterprises. It takes time. The enterprises of both sides need to do more marketing and promotion.
In view of China's policy of providing economic assistance to Africa, Lu said that China's economic assistance policy has seen remarkable results. China's economic assistance has its own features: first, meeting the urgent needs of our friends, that is, determining the assistance projects based upon the needs of African countries; second, there are no political conditions attached with China's economic assistance and China has never imposed pressure upon African countries through economic assistance. These are important principles of China's economic assistance to Africa and we will never change them.
Speaking of the bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, Lu said that China imported some oil from Africa in recent years and the import volume was less that 1/3 of China's total import. Besides the import through trade, China is also willing to participate in Africa's engineering projects related to oil, including early-phase prospecting and exploration. African countries hope that China could participate in some downstream projects such as petrochemical and oil refining. These projects are still in the initial stage. African countries, especially countries along the coast of western African countries, have great oil reserves. These countries wish to develop their economy through the exploration of their resources. China would like to carry out mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation with them. China adheres to the non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries during the exchanges between nations. China will never make indiscreet remarks or criticisms to internal affairs of other countries. China believes that African countries and peoples can properly handle their internal affairs with their own efforts. The international community should create good environment for the resolution of their internal affairs by themselves.
As for the cooperation with African international organizations such as the African Union, Lu said that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was transformed into the African Union (AU) in 2002, indicating that the African integration process has witnessed remarkable progress. The AU will play an increasingly important role to the peace and development of Africa. The relationship between China and the AU also witnessed further growth. China dispatched the ambassador to the AU and maintained sound cooperation with it in safeguarding regional peace and stability and curbing regional turbulence. For instance, China provided financial support to the African Union for 2 consecutive years and supported it in dealing with the Darfur issue. Meanwhile China also supported the AU in its economic endeavors. For instance, the AU introduced the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which identified the priority projects for Africa's development, such as infrastructure development and the exploration of agricultural resources. The Chinese government was very supportive in this regard and worked with the international society to carry out cooperation with Africa in these areas. Some contents of the Forum on China-Africa cooperation are also in alignment with the goals identified in NEPAD. China also maintained good cooperative relations with other African regional organizations. China dispatched the representatives to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and is negotiating with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). China also maintained close links with the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. In a word, China attaches great importance to developing relations with the AU and other African regional organizations.
With reference to the difference of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership with the past relations and the areas requiring the most urgent cooperation between China and Africa, Lu said that the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership identified in China' African Policy Paper is neither a new concept, nor an indication of the sudden changes in China-Africa relations. It is rather a continuation of China's African policy. Its connotation indicates that China wishes to develop comprehensive cooperation with African countries under new circumstances. The strategic cooperation between China and Africa does not start today. In the past 5 decades, China and Africa have been treating each other sincerely and supported each other. In the meantime, both sides have supported each other in their endeavor of safeguarding the sovereignty, independence and dignity. This type of relationship will continue to move forward with new contents added under new circumstances. In the political arena, China will continue to maintain high-level contacts with Africa. According to the incomplete statistics, there were over 780 mutual visits between Chinese and African leaders above the ministerial level, among which there were over 160 visits to Africa by Chinese leaders. Chinese leaders of the past and existing generations all visited Africa. Since 1991, China's foreign minister has been paying visits to Africa once every year. Most of the leaders in African countries also visited China. Besides the mutual visits of the state leaders, China and African countries also maintained frequent exchanges between the National People's Congress of China and the parliaments of African countries, between political parties and between local governments. The bilateral economic and trade cooperation has been widened. China reduced or remitted the due loans worth of RMB 10.5 billion owed by African countries. China also offered tariff-free treatment to 190 goods exported from 25 African countries to China. China also approved 16 African countries as the tourist destinations for Chinese citizens. African countries have abundant tourism resources. But Chinese citizens lack the knowledge about Africa. But as time passes by, they will be more interested in traveling to Africa. China also carried out cooperation with African countries in the field of agriculture, human resources, medicine and health, military affairs and security. China and African countries have a tradition of cooperation in the military area. Both sides also carried out cooperation in non-traditional security area. China's African Policy Paper identified over 30 cooperation areas between China and Africa and pointed out the direction and guidelines for the development of friendly cooperation between China and Africa in the coming years.
In relations to the issue of how China can play a bigger role in resolving the regional and international issues of Africa, Lu said that China supports the African Union in resolving the regional conflicts through its won efforts and by forming the alliance. China was very active in participating in the peacekeeping missions of the UN in Africa. China has dispatched 3000-person-time peacekeepers to Africa. At present there are still 850 Chinese peacekeepers participating in the peacekeeping missions in 8 regions.