This week's Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation saw the adoption of the "Beijing Declaration", which included a three-year action plan for China-Africa cooperation. The African leaders who came to Beijing this week made it clear that they view China as a partner and a friend that they can rely on. And they saw that the plans proposed by China's President Xi Jinping to further strengthen the bonds between China and Africa will have a far-reaching influence on the peace, stability, and sustainable development of their continent.
People who understand the history of the bonds that tie China and Africa together know that these were not hollow words of praise. Rather, they were a serious reflection on the strength of the relationship between the two sides. This is in large part thanks to the principles of sincerity, justice, and shared interests on which the relationship is based. It also reflects the strong emphasis on concrete actions that define the China-Africa relationship.
Building on the foundation of the 10 major China-Africa cooperation plans developed in 2015, the Beijing Summit continued the work of addressing the development needs of African countries. The result of these efforts was the launch of eight new major initiatives that focus on cooperation in industrial development, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. To be delivered over the next three years, these new initiatives will help to drive the ongoing development of Africa in three ways.
First, they address the real needs that African countries have to meet in order to achieve their development goals. In 2015, the African Union adopted "Agenda 2063", which seeks to build "The Africa We Want" that enjoys economic growth, political solidarity, peace, security, democracy and the rule of law, a strong cultural identity, and international influence. In order to make this vision of Africa a reality, the three development bottlenecks of lagging infrastructure, talent shortages, and inadequate funding need to be addressed.
The eight major initiatives launched by China at the Beijing Summit will go a long way towards breaking these development bottlenecks. That is why Arthur Minsat, the head of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa division at the OECD Development Center, said that the initiatives will help to promote industrialization and education in Africa, and bring the African Union closer to realizing the goals of "Agenda 2063".
Second, China's new initiatives provide reinforcement for the push to achieve independent and sustainable development in Africa. Africa has a long history, a rich and diverse culture, and has abundant resources. But it suffered terribly as a result of a long period of colonization by the Western world. After decades of revolutionary struggle and a prolonged fight for independence during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, countries across Africa bore the brunt of the neoliberalist economics that spread around the world from the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, choking off development support and financing. The speed of the recovery from this challenging period will continue to accelerate as a result of the ongoing support that China is extending to its African partners.
Since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, China has brought market demand, capital, and technology to Africa. Combined with some of the lessons China has been able to volunteer as a result of its own development experience, these investments in financial, knowledge, and human capital have helped African countries to develop models of development that suit their national circumstances.
Abebe Aemro Selassie, the director of the International Monetary Fund's African Department, believes that the achievements of China's 40-year policy of Reform and Opening Up have provided important experience that has helped to inform Africa's economic development. China's industrial transformation can act as reference points as African countries climb the ladder of technological progress towards the developed countries. At the Beijing Summit, President Xi Jinping emphasized that "Africa's development has great potential; this great continent is full of hope".
And third, the eight new initiatives are expected to raise global awareness of the potential that Africa provides for investment. At the end of the last century, Africa lacked a strong global voice. The establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation 18 years ago helped Africa to find its voice and attract the world's attention. Now it is increasingly a hot spot for investment. In the "Business Environment Report for 2018" released by the World Bank at the end of last year, Mauritius and Rwanda ranked among the top 50 countries in the world for investment opportunities. And a report by the international consultancy Ernst & Young in May last year said that Africa attracted 676 foreign direct investment projects in 2016, with investment increasing by almost one-third over the previous year.
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, who is also in the rotating presidency of the African Union, told the Beijing Summit that China's engagement in Africa has been "deeply transformational both internally and with respect to Africa's global position." And the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pointed out that "I am a true believer that the success of the world in development and peace depends on Africa's success, and China's cooperation with Africa is fundamental for Africa's success." As Africa's leaders return home from the Beijing Summit, they can be confident that they are returning with the support of a strong partner dedicated to ensuring that Africa can realize its full potential at home and on the world stage.
(Source: China Plus)