26/03/2013 President of the Republic of South Africa,Jacob Zuma recieved the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping his state visit at the Union Buildings. Picture: Phill Magakoe

#Focac - Premier Li Keqiang described the profound friendship between China and Africa by quoting a verse: “You may forget the one who smiles with you, but you will never forget the one who cries with you”, when he delivered a speech to the African Union in 2014.

The friendship between Chinese and African people has a long history. It can be traced back hundreds of years. During the Ming dynasty, the famous Chinese navigator Zheng He voyaged across the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa and built up friendship between Chinese and African people.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the first generation of Chinese leaders represented by Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, together with elder statesmen of African Countries, opened a new era of China-Africa relationship.

Today, the forge of “Upgrade of China-Africa Cooperation” marks that China-Africa friendship is handed down from generation to generation.

As the largest developing country and the continent with the largest number of developing countries, China and Africa share similar historical experience and development tasks that will further strengthen our relationship and cooperation.

By learning from each other and helping each other, China and African countries have fostered the common spiritual pursuit to develop together towards a promising future.

The forge of “the Upgrade of China-Africa Cooperation” initiated by Premier Li Keqiang has enriched the content of new China-Africa Strategic Partnership and promoted China-Africa cooperation to a new height.

I was Chinese Ambassador to Ghana from 2010 to 2013. During that period, I was deeply attracted by African culture and got to know many African friends.

As the Executive Vice President of China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA), a non-governmental organisation, I attach great importance to the mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and African people and try my best to promote the cooperation between China and African countries.

Since its establishment three years ago, CPDA has successfully hosted events such as “Going to Africa” Investment Forum, China Culture Tours for African Diplomats and receiving African media delegations.

I am sure, the friendship between China and African countries will be further deepened by people-to-people exchanges.

I wish the Round-table Conference of China-Africa Relationship co-hosted by CPDA and Independent Newspaper great success!

Gong Jianzhong, is Vice President of the China Public Diplomacy Association.

This article originally appeared in an Independent Media supplement.