China-Africa cooperation fruitful over past 50 years

Updated: 2007-01-30 13:47

BEIJING -- President Hu Jintao left Beijing Tuesday to begin state visits to eight African countries from January 30 to February 10, which marks his first African trip after the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last November, the largest meeting between the two sides since the 1950s.

Over the past 50 years, China and Africa have become all-weather friends, partners of sincere cooperation, and good brothers, with the two peoples forging a profound relationship, and bilateral ties achieving great successes. Forty-eight out of the African continent's 53 countries have established diplomatic ties with China so far.

Since late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai's three visits to Africa in the 1960s, there have been over 800 exchanges of visits between senior Chinese and African leaders.

China and Africa have shared comprehensive consensus, common interests, and a willingness to further enhance and deepen their cooperation on many issues. Frequent high-level reciprocal visits have promoted mutual understanding and trust, and have effectively boosted the all-around, healthy development of bilateral ties.

The Chinese government issued its African Policy Paper last January, presenting to the world the objectives of China's policy toward Africa and the measures to achieve them.

In the document, China elaborated its definite objective and firm belief in carrying forward its traditional friendship with Africa, and in developing a new type of strategic partnership with Africa under new circumstances, which elicited enthusiastic response among African nations.

In 2000, China and Africa established FOCAC, bringing their economic and trade cooperation into a new era with comprehensive, rapid and stable development. Two-way trade volume rocketed to US$39.7 billion in 2005 after breaking the mark of 10 billion dollars in 2000.

In addition, China has forgiven debts of 10.9 billion yuan (US$1.38 billion) by 31 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa and extended zero-tariff treatment to some exports to China.

Meanwhile, Africa's energy sources, raw materials and industrial products began to enter the Chinese market. The two sides have seen an excellent development of mutual benefit and win-win results through their closer cooperation in trade and economy.

In order to accelerate Africa's economic and social development, and to further promote Chinese-African trade and economic ties, China has provided assistance without any political preconditions for African nations.

By the end of 2005, China had helped establish more than 720 projects for Africa, offered over 18,000 governmental scholarships, dispatched more than 15,000 medical personnel, and treated some 170 million patients in Africa.

This year, China also met its promise, made at FOCAC's 2nd ministerial conference in Ethiopia four years ago, to help Africa train 10,000 professionals.

In the cultural field, China and Africa share diversified forms of culture. Up to the end of 2005, China had signed 65 cultural agreements with African countries and implemented 151 plans of cultural exchanges.

Over the past five years, more than 10 African nations have sent some 20 governmental cultural delegations to China, and art troupes or groups from both sides also visited each other.

In 2004, a China-Africa cultural event was successfully held within the FOCAC framework, highlighting the cultural exchange between the two sides.

China, the largest developing country, and Africa, a continent which contains most of the developing countries in the world, have shared the same or similar views on important international issues.

Both sides have conducted close, comprehensive coordination and cooperation, jointly safeguarding the rights and interests of themselves and other developing nations.

African countries have offered valuable support to China, playing an important role in restoring the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations.

They have given China strong support in foiling anti-China motions introduced by some Western countries at the UN Human Rights Commission and helped China defeat many attempts by Taiwan to "participate in the United Nations" and to edge in to the World Heath Organization and other international bodies which only a sovereign state can join. African countries also supported China in its bid to host the 2008 Olympics and the 2010 World Expo.

Over the past five decades, the relations between China and African countries have become closer and closer, with the two sides understanding, supporting and helping each other. Their ties have gone through a rapid development especially after the creation of FOCAC, a mechanism for collective dialogue and cooperation to cope with new challenges and facilitate common development.

At last year's Beijing summit, African and Chinese leaders reviewed the development of China-Africa cooperation over the past five decades, blueprinted the two sides' pragmatic cooperation for the future, and exchanged views on important international affairs as part of their efforts to ensure the development of their new type of strategic partnership.

President Hu's visit is another diplomatic event in the China-Africa relation after the remarkable Beijing summit and is bound to inject new dynamism into the friendly relations between the two sides.

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