China / Government

Forum stresses people's role in enhancing China-Africa relations

By Zhang Xiang ( Updated: 2015-08-27 08:56

Forum stresses people's role in enhancing China-Africa relations

The 4th China-Africa People's Forum opens in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang province, Aug 26. [Photo by Zhang Xiang/]

Participants at the 4th China-Africa People's Forum (CAPF) held in-depth discussions about the people-to-people exchanges in strengthening China-Africa cooperation and reaching consensus.

The forum, which was jointly hosted by China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE) and the Economics, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union, opened in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang province, on Wednesday.

With "Joining Efforts Towards Building China-Africa Community of Shared Destinies and Embracing A New Horizon in People-to-People Friendship" as its theme, the fourth CAPF focused on two topics – "New opportunities for China-Africa cooperation: people's perspective" and "Building China-Africa community of shared destinies: people's contribution."

Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao addressed the opening ceremony, elaborating on the considerations behind China's new African cooperation policy initiatives under the current circumstances.

"As China and Africa need each other during their development, it is high time for the two sides to consolidate the community of shared destinies," said Li.

"We encourage more Chinese companies and individuals to invest or travel in Africa, making contributions to Africa's development, and we welcome more African friends to do business in China and promote the China-Africa exchanges and cooperation," he said.

Political leaders, dignitaries and representatives of NGOs, youth organizations, think-tanks and media agencies from nearly 30 African countries, as well as Chinese representatives from government, NGOs, think-tanks, businesses and media communities participated in the forum.

Ambassador Ahmed Haggag, Secretary General of the Africa Society, said that in the past two decades, there has been more focus given to the people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa.

"I see many Chinese people and companies doing business in Africa and they care more of the workers' health, education and the environment," he said.

"I suggest that the CAPF could play a more important role in China-Africa relations in the future and encourage the participation of NGOs from both China and Africa," he said.

Haggag also praised China's efforts in helping Africa fight Ebola as China had sent doctors and nurses to the Ebola-hit nations and vowed to help them with the "post-Ebola" construction.

Yonas Adaye Adeto, Associate Academic Director, Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), Addis Ababa University, said China was like the center of gravity attracting the young African people as China and Africa try to build a community of shared interests.

"It's not only because of your technology or talents, but also because of the path of peaceful development that China has stuck to since thousands of years," Adeto said.

He suggested that China and Africa could cooperate in areas such as think-tanks, climate change research and refugees.

Speaking of the new opportunities of China-Africa cooperation, Shu Zhan, former Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea and Rwanda, said the biggest opportunities now is the same willingness of China and Africa to develop social economy and improve people’s livelihood.

"China and Africa are thinking the same way and heading for the same direction," Shu said.

The forum passed the Declaration of Proposals on China-Africa People-to-People Exchanges and Cooperation, an outcome document on new initiatives for people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between China and Africa from 2016 to 2018. The declaration will be submitted to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa at the end of this year.

The people's forum is important institutionalized supporting event of the FOCAC. The year 2015, which marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of FOCAC, is an important year amid the transformation and upgrading of cooperation between China and Africa.

"It was a short day but we had in-depth discussions," said You Jianhua, Secretary-General of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges, at a press conference after the forum concluded.

"We believe this forum is an occasion to share ideas and experience as well as forge consensus on pragmatic projects and measures," he said.

Joseph Chilengi, Executive Chairman of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Council, said that the forum is an important milestone for Africa and china relationship as it emphasizes that people are the foundation for the development of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership.

The first three sessions of CAPF were held in Nairobi, Kenya, (2011), Suzhou, China, (2012), and Khartoum, Sudan, (2014) respectively. In 2012, Xi Jinping, then Vice-President of China, attended the opening ceremony of the second Forum and delivered a keynote speech.

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