From the time Xi Jinping assumed the presidency, almost a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of web pages, domains, encrypted sites, online searches and IP addresses in China were blocked. File picture: AP Photo/Andy Wong

#FOCAC: Pretoria - South Africa will this week play host to the historic event, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit.

The summit is historic because it is not only the first FOCAC summit on African soil, but also a summit that will deepen China-Africa relations in every aspect.

The Johannesburg summit will be preceded by a meeting of senior officials on Wednesday followed by the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC on Thursday.

President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma will co-chair the actual summit on Friday and Saturday.

African Heads of State and Government, representatives from the African Union (AU), heads of regional organisations and multilateral organisations will also participate in the summit which will be held under the theme ‘Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development’.

Established in 2000, FOCAC aims to promote bilateral ties and cooperation between China and Africa through dialogue.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the forum, and it's the first time the ministerial meeting has been upgraded to a leader's summit.

This upgrade is seen as a reflection of the two side’s developing relationship.

The summit will see the adoption of a new declaration - the Johannesburg Declaration - and a plan of action plan, which will outline specific measures aimed at consolidating the growing mutual partnership between Africa and China.

The summit will pick up on key areas of cooperation that the two sides have identified. These include economic cooperation, infrastructure development, beneficiation, debt relief, industrialisation, investment promotion, market access expansion, cooperation in health, agriculture, science and technology, education as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

The Johannesburg Declaration will also take into account the African Union’s first 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063, which is a continental vision for an African continent that is united, peaceful, prosperous and which moves towards industrialisation and value-addition, infrastructure development and greater intra-African trade.

The African continent has identified several projects that need to be implemented in the first 10 years of Agenda 2063. These include an integrated high speed train network, the great Inga Dam project, a single African aviation market, the free movement of persons and the African passport, the creation of a free trade area as well as silencing the guns in Africa by 2020.

The Chinese side has indicated President Xi is likely to announce a three-year package for the cooperation with Africa in areas including industrialisation, agriculture modernisation and infrastructure development.

The summit is also set to prioritise major bottlenecks constraining Africa’s development, such as infrastructure and the lack of professionals.

With China’s technology and capital and Africa’s natural and human resources combined, the two sides can unleash huge development potential and bring real benefits to the people on the ground.

This is why Africa views the summit as a meeting of equal partners and not a donor conference.

China has been Africa's largest trade partner for six consecutive years and Africa is assuming growing importance as an investment and engineering contract destination for Chinese enterprises.

Over the past 15 years, the trade volume between China and Africa has soared from $10 billion to $220 billion.

During the same period, China’s direct investment in Africa has sharply increased from $500 million to $30 billion.

Data also shows that there are more than 3 000 Chinese companies in Africa.

Ahead of the FOCAC summit, President Xi will meet President Zuma for a two-day state visit to from Wednesday.

The visit, according to Pretoria, aims to finalise the China-South Africa 5-10 Year Framework on Cooperation that will further entrench the implementation of agreements since the conclusion of the Beijing Declaration in 2010.

It will further deepen and expand on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that the two countries share.

South Africa’s relations with China remain central to realising its developmental agenda through its foreign policy as it increases efforts to implement the National Development Plan, collaborate in agriculture, environmental affairs, trade and industry and finance as the country continues to drive the agenda of moving South Africa forward.

It is also provides an opportunity to review progress on existing areas of trade and cooperation between the two nations, and to expedite and finalise new areas of cooperation.

SA NEWS - ZXINHUA