China and Africa: Taking bold steps, Scaling the heights and Looking afar

May 25 this year is the 56th birthday of “Africa Day”, we together celebrate the tremendous achievements in 56 years made by Africa, and are proud of the profound friendship in 56 years forged by China and Africa. I would like to take this opportunity to extend the best regards and cordial greetings to African brothers.

China-Africa enjoys a long friendship. Since the founding of new China, China and Africa have forged profound friendship. For a long time, China and Africa have sincerely treated, mutual understanding and support, and always together each other. China-Africa friendship has withstood the test of time and fluctuating international situation. China and Africa have long formed a community with a shared future and a win-win interests. Developing solidarity and cooperation with African countries is an important basis of China's foreign policy and a long-term and firm strategic choice of China.

—China, the world's largest developing country, and Africa, the continent with the largest number of developing countries, cooperation and development between China and Africa are highly complementary and have great potential. Africa has such advantages as human dividends, market potential and natural resources. China has comparative advantages in terms of capital, technology, market, enterprises, talents and successful development experience.

—China-Africa economic and trade relations have developed rapidly. In 2018, China-Africa trade volume reached US$ 2014.19 billion, up 20.1% year-on-year, and Africa's exports to China increased by 30%. China has maintained its position as Africa's largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years. China has become the fastest growing market for Africa's exports.

—China's non-financial direct investment flow to Africa amounted to US$3.16 billion, an increase of 2.9% over the same period last year. At present, China's investment in Africa totals more than US$110 billion. According to incomplete statistics, for a long time, China has helped Africa build more than 10,000 kilometers of highways, more than 6,000 kilometers of railways, more than 20 airports and terminal buildings, more than 30 bridges and ports, more than 80 power projects, and about 150 stadiums, conference centers and parliament buildings.

China has built at least 25 economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa, creating 41,000 jobs, about a third of Africa's new increasing electric power benefits from China's investment projects.

—When the Ebola epidemic was rampant in Africa, China took the lead in providing assistance with a total of RMB750 million. China has sent more than 20,000 medical team members to Africa, treated more than 200 million patients, and sent medical teams to some African countries to prevent and control diseases. China's "Guangming Xing" campaign has brought light to more than 9,000 cataract patients in Africa.

—China has also helped develop human resources for Africa to train hundreds of thousands of professionals and technicians in various fields, and built more than 300 people's livelihood facilities such as hospitals and schools throughout Africa.

—People-to-People exchanges between China and Africa have increased rapidly. In recent years, more then one million Chinese tourists visit Africa annually, and more than 600 thousand African tourists visit China annually.

—China actively participates in African peacekeeping. China supports for the building of the African Standing Army and of the Crisis Response Rapid Response Force. China is the largest contributor of peacekeepers to Africa among the five permanent of the UN Security Council and the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping funds. More than 80% of China's peacekeepers are deployed in Africa, there are total 2,100 peacekeepers in five African mission areas to carry out UN peacekeeping mission, 75% of the peacekeeping funds paid are for Africa.

In accordance with the relevant resolution of the UN Security Council, since December 2008, Chinese navy has send escort fleet to the Gulf of Aden and the waters of Somalia. So far, total 31 escort fleets, 100 vessels and more than 26,000 officers and soldiers have been dispatched, and 1191 batches of 6595 Chinese and foreign ships have been convoyed.

Last September, the 2018 Beijing Summit of FOCAC was successfully held, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced eight major initiatives in collaboration with Africa for industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trad facilitation, green development, capacity building, healthcare, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security, delineating the blueprint for China-Africa relations in the new era and opening an ambitious chapter in China-Africa cooperation for the new era. The eight major initiatives, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and centering around building a new type of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind, following the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and of pursuing the greater good and shared interests, pooling the strength the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the AU Agenda 2063 and the development programs of African countries, promoting win-win cooperation and common development for both China and Africa.

This April 2019, the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) held in Beijing, the Belt and Road cooperation has opened up new space for global economic growth, produced new platforms for international trade and investment and offered new ways for improving global economic governance. Indeed, this initiative has helped improve people's lives in countries involved and created more opportunities for common prosperity. We will work hand in hand with our African brothers to jointly promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and create a better future between China and Africa.

(By H.E. Qin Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Somalia)

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