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Keynote speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping at opening ceremony of 8th FOCAC ministerial conference

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (How Hwee Young/Pool Photo via AP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (How Hwee Young/Pool Photo via AP)

Published Nov 30, 2021

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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech via video link at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Monday.

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It is such a pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Let me first express sincere appreciation to President Sall and the government of Senegal for their excellent organization, and extend a warm welcome to the colleagues and guests attending the Conference.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. Over the past 65 years, China and Africa have forged unbreakable fraternity in our struggle against imperialism and colonialism, and embarked on a distinct path of cooperation in our journey toward development and revitalization.

Together, we have written a splendid chapter of mutual assistance amidst complex changes, and set a shining example for building a new type of international relations.

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Why do China and Africa have such a close relationship and so deep a bond of friendship? The key lies in an everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation forged between the two sides, which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness.

This truly captures the relations of China and Africa working together in good and hard times over the past decades, and provides a source of strength for the continuous growth of China-Africa friendly relations.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations. Here, let me express sincere appreciation to the many African friends who supported China back then. Let me also make it solemnly clear that China will never forget the profound friendship of African countries and will remain guided by the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests. China will work together with African friends to promote and carry forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation from generation to generation.

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At the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, I proposed that we build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The proposal was unanimously endorsed by African leaders. Over the past three years and more, China and Africa have worked together to fully implement the eight major initiatives and other outcomes of the Beijing Summit, and completed a large number of priority cooperation projects.

China-Africa trade and China’s investment in Africa have been on a steady rise. Almost all African members of FOCAC have joined the big family of Belt and Road cooperation. All these have injected strong impetus into the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

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As we stand at the historic starting point of building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, I wish to make the following four proposals:

First, fighting COVID-19 with solidarity.

We need to put people and their lives first, be guided by science, support waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, and truly ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa to bridge the immunization gap.

Second, deepening practical cooperation.

We need to open up new prospects for China-Africa cooperation, expand trade and investment, share experience on poverty reduction, strengthen cooperation on digital economy, and promote entrepreneurship by young Africans and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). At the UN General Assembly this year, I put forward the Global Development Initiative, which dovetails with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We welcome the active support and participation by African countries.

Third, promoting green development.

In the face of climate change, which is a major challenge to all humanity, we need to advocate green and low-carbon development, actively promote solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy, work for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and keep strengthening our capacity for sustainable development.

Fourth, upholding equity and justice.

The world needs true multilateralism. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom are common values of humanity and represent the abiding aspirations of both China and Africa. We both advocate a development path suited to our national conditions and are both committed to upholding the rights and interests of developing countries. We both oppose intervention in domestic affairs, racial discrimination and unilateral sanctions. We need to unequivocally stand for the just propositions of developing countries and translate our common aspirations and interests into joint actions.

In the run-up to this Conference, our two sides have jointly prepared the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.

Under the first three-year plan of the Vision, China will work closely with African countries to implement the following nine programs:

First, the medical and health program.

To help the AU achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, I announce that China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries. In addition, China will undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa.

Second, the poverty reduction and agricultural development program.

China will undertake 10 poverty reduction and agricultural projects for Africa, and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa. China will set up a number of China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training in China, encourage Chinese institutions and companies to build in Africa demonstration villages for China-Africa cooperation on agricultural development and poverty reduction, and support the Alliance of Chinese Companies in Africa for Corporate Social Responsibilities in launching the initiative of “100 Companies in 1,000 Villages”.

Third, the trade promotion program.

China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, speed up the inspection and quarantine procedures, and further increase the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment for the least developed countries (LDCs) having diplomatic relations with China, in a bid to reach 300 billion US dollars in total imports from Africa in the next three years. China will provide 10 billion US dollars of trade finance to support African export, and build in China a pioneering zone for in-depth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation and a China-Africa industrial park for Belt and Road cooperation. China will undertake 10 connectivity projects for Africa, form an expert group on economic cooperation with the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and give continued support to the development of the AfCFTA.

Fourth, the investment promotion program.

China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than 10 billion US dollars in Africa in the next three years, and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion. China will undertake 10 industrialization and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of 10 billion US dollars to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB center. China will exempt African LDCs from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2021. China is ready to channel to African countries 10 billion US dollars from its share of the IMF’s new allocation of Special Drawing Rights.

Fifth, the digital innovation program.

China will undertake 10 digital economy projects for Africa, set up centers for China-Africa cooperation on satellite remote-sensing application, and support the development of China-Africa joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases. China will work with African countries to expand Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, hold online shopping festivals featuring quality African products and tourism e-commerce promotion activities, and launch a campaign to market 100 African stores and 1,000 African products on e-commerce platforms.

Sixth, the green development program.

China will undertake 10 green development, environmental protection and climate action projects for Africa, support the development of the “Great Green Wall”, and build in Africa centers of excellence on low-carbon development and climate change adaptation.

Seventh, the capacity building program.

China will help build or upgrade 10 schools in Africa, and invite 10,000 high-level African professionals to seminars and workshops. We will implement “Future of Africa — a project for China-Africa cooperation on vocational education”, and start an employment “through train” scheme for African students in China. China will continue to work with African countries to set up “Luban Workshops”, and encourage Chinese companies in Africa to create at least 800,000 local jobs.

Eighth, the cultural and people-to-people exchange program.

China will support making all African countries having diplomatic ties with China approved destinations for Chinese tourist groups. We will hold African film festivals in China and Chinese film festivals in Africa, as well as a China-Africa youth services forum, and a China-Africa women’s forum.

Ninth, the peace and security program.

China will undertake 10 peace and security projects for Africa, continue to deliver military assistance to the AU, support African countries’ efforts to independently maintain regional security and fight terrorism, and conduct joint exercises and on-site training between Chinese and African peacekeeping troops and cooperation on small arms and light weapons control.

Senegal’s first President Léopold Sédar Senghor once wrote, “Let us answer ‘present’ at the rebirth of the world.” I am convinced that the concerted efforts of China and Africa will make this FOCAC Conference a full success, one that shall pool the mighty strength of the 2.7 billion Chinese and Africans and guide us toward a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.

Thank you.

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