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Enduring friendship

By WU PENG | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-12 08:17
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China-Africa cooperation is full of hope and opportunities for the realization of a community with a shared future

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the African Union. Over the past 20 years, the AU has held high the banner of seeking strength through unity, actively explored a development path suitable for the continent and led the continuous rise in Africa's international status and influence. Not long ago, I set foot on Africa, a land full of hope and opportunities. During this visit, I personally witnessed the fruitful achievements of Africa's development and deeply felt the high expectations of Africa's new and old friends for China-Africa cooperation. So I am confident in the development prospects of Africa and have high hopes for the broad prospects of China-Africa cooperation.

China and Africa, with their long-standing bilateral friendship, have always been a community with a shared future. Since the launch of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, this relationship has taken a giant leap forward, and the solidarity and cooperation between the two sides have enjoyed broader prospects, setting an example for building a community with a shared future for mankind.

The political mutual trust between the two sides has continued to grow. Since 2013, President Xi Jinping has attached great importance to the growth of China-Africa relations, putting forward the principle of sincerity, amity and good faith and pursuing the greater good and shared interests. President Xi has personally promoted the long-term and steady growth of relations. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Xi proposed and chaired the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 and held 16 phone calls with leaders of sub-Saharan Africa, sending a strong message of solidarity and cooperation between the two sides. And, despite the pandemic, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued the 32-year tradition of China's diplomacy that Chinese foreign ministers make Africa the destination for their first overseas trips at the beginning of a new year. The close high-level exchanges between the two sides and the deepening of political mutual trust have provided a solid guarantee for the continuing development of China-Africa relations.

In extending steadfast support to Africa's development, China has shared its own development experience. President Xi has twice presided over FOCAC summits and he attended the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC via video link. During these meetings, he unveiled 10 cooperation plans, eight major initiatives and nine projects to further bolster cooperation with Africa. China has been Africa's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. Beijing has inked agreements on the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation with 52 African countries and the African Union Commission. The cooperation has given rise to landmark cooperation projects such as the African Union Commission Conference Center, Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway as well as roads, electricity, communications and ports that have spread across the continent, which has significantly enhanced Africa's capacity for independent and sustainable development.

In the face of major international and regional issues, the two sides, with their similar concepts and positions, have always supported each other and jointly upheld the common interests of developing countries and international fairness and justice. In doing so, they have provided robust positive energy for the maintaining of global stability and development. China firmly supports the efforts of African countries to play a greater role in international affairs. China will work together with African countries to make developing countries better represented and see their voices better heard on the international stage.

The traditional friendship between China and Africa, as both friends and comrades-in-arms, was forged in their arduous struggle for national independence and liberation. This friendship is unbreakable and enduring. Although profound changes are taking place in the global governance system, the general trend for the multi-polarization of the world and democratization of international relations remains unchanged. The collective rise of developing countries is unstoppable, and the willingness of China and Africa to strengthen their solidarity and cooperation is stronger than ever. China and Africa will continue to overcome the effects of the pandemic, promote concrete exchanges at all levels and in various fields, further the exchanges and cooperation between China and the AU, and enhance strategic mutual trust. The two sides must forge the greatest consensuses, make greater contributions to the peace and development of Africa and enable China-Africa relations to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Upholding multilateralism, China and Africa will strengthen coordination and cooperation over international and regional affairs with the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance, firmly safeguard the international system with the United Nations at its core and adhere to the common values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom for all mankind. Both sides oppose hegemony, power politics, unilateral sanctions and interference in internal affairs, and object to the building of "a small yard with high fences" and coercing other countries into choosing sides. China will always stand with its African brothers, and China's vote in the United Nations always belongs to the developing countries.

Without peace, there will be no development to speak of, and peace is unsustainable without development. China attaches great importance to peace and security in Africa and is committed to playing a constructive role in peace and security affairs on the continent. In January, China put forward the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa. Beijing appointed a special envoy for Horn of Africa affairs afterwards. The China-Horn of Africa Peace, Good Governance and Development Conference was successfully held recently, and China is willing to work with Africa to put President Xi's Global Security Initiative in place on the continent. China will implement 10 peace and security projects for Africa in the next three years, continue providing military aid to the AU, and support the AU in carrying out its "silence the guns in Africa" initiative.

The foundation for the strong relations between China and Africa lies in the people. China stands ready to work with Africa to promote friendly people-to-people exchanges and heightened exchanges and cooperation between think tanks, media, women and youth, so as to further enhance the bonds and mutual understanding between the Chinese and African people. The public support for China-Africa friendship should be built up to keep the flower of China-Africa friendship in full bloom.

More "small but beautiful" projects that benefit people's livelihoods will be put in place and China will speed up the construction of the headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, actively promote cooperation in vaccine production, the pharmaceutical sector and healthcare. The two sides will also strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, investment and financing, scale up trade and expand cooperation in emerging sectors such as green development and the digital economy.

It is my firm belief that with such efforts, we will be able to open up a brighter future for China-Africa relations, bring more benefits to the Chinese and African people and inject strong impetus into the development of a new type of international relations and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

The author is the director-general of the Department of African Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

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