Chinese President Xi Jinping will this week attend the Forum for China and Africa Co-operation in Johannesburg at which Beijing will announce new measures of co-operation with Africa. Picture: Etienne Laurent

#Focac: Having gone through thick and thin together, China and Africa are bound by this community of shared future and interests. In the 1960s and 1970s, the two sides forged profound friendship in the fight for national independence and liberation.

Today, nothing should stop the two sides from coming together to pursue common development. Africa is blessed with abundant natural and human resources and enjoys huge market and development potential.

The Agenda 2063 and its first Ten Year Plan adopted at this year’s AU Summit have prioritized industrialization and sustainable development, ushering Africa into a new stage of development.

As for China, with more than three decades of fast growth, it now has rich experience, mature technology, cost-effective equipment and sufficient capital in the field of industrialization.

More importantly, China has the strong political will to support Africa in achieving economic independence and self-reliant sustainable development. China and Africa will usher in a new phase of win-win cooperation and common development.

Since the inception of FOCAC 15 years ago, China and Africa have had fruitful cooperation across the board. Political mutual trust has grown significantly.

The two sides understand and support each other on matters involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, thus upholding the common interests of China, Africa and the developing world.

Our practical cooperation has progressed in leaps and bounds, delivering tangible benefits to both the Chinese and African people. Statistics show that in 2014, trade between China and Africa exceeded US$220 billion and China’s investment stock in Africa surpassed US$30 billion, an increase of 22 and 60 times respectively over the figures in 2000 when FOCAC was just established.

Moreover, the share of China-Africa trade in Africa’s total foreign trade has increased from 3.82% to 20.5%.

What is particularly noteworthy is China’s commitment to helping Africa break the two development bottlenecks of underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of human resources.

The efforts have already made a big difference. By June 2015, over 3 800 kilometers of railways and 4 334 kilometers of roads have been either built or under construction in Africa with Chinese financing.

More than 200 schools of various kinds have been established with Chinese assistance or financing.

The Chinese government provides Africa with more than 7 000 government scholarships each semester and holds over 100 multilateral and bilateral technical and management training programs and senior officials workshops for Africa each year.

FOCAC has proven to be an important platform for collective dialogue between China and African countries and an effective mechanism for enhanced practical cooperation.

As such, FOCAC is very much welcomed by all parties and has indeed become a banner for promoting China-Africa unity and cooperation and leading international cooperation on Africa.

As far as the African countries are concerned, they have the common desire to accelerate industrialization and agricultural modernization in a bid to realize economic independence and self-reliant, sustainable development.

As for China, after over 30 years of reform, opening-up and rapid development, it now enjoys a large number of competitive industries and strong production capacities that need to go global.

This means that given their respective strengths, China and Africa are each other’s opportunity and need each other for cooperation and development.

Convened against such a background, the FOCAC Summit, the first of its kind to be held on the African continent, will have great and far-reaching significance for boosting comprehensive transformation and upgrading of China-Africa relations and promoting more balanced, inclusive and sustainable development of the world.

China and Africa will seize this rare historical opportunity of the summit, fully leverage their advantages of political mutual trust and economic complementarity and step up mutually beneficial cooperation in the five priority areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, health, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security.

We believe that this summit, through its new plans, new blueprint and new momentum, will send to the rest of the world a strong message of China and Africa working together for win-win cooperation and common development and usher in a new prospect of development to people in China, Africa and beyond.

China, in the spirit of equal-footed consultation and joint preparation for the summit, stands ready to work with South Africa and the other 50 FOCAC members on the African side to make the summit in Johannesburg a historic gathering that will strengthen China-Africa unity and lead China-Africa cooperation to the future, thus writing a new chapter for China-Africa relations.

Zhong Jianhua is Special Representative on African Affairs for the Chinese Government.

This article first appeared in an Independent Media supplement.