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Xi’s new initiatives give impetus to stronger China-Africa family

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping on Monday announced a raft of renewed measures to elevate China-Africa cooperation as more than 50 African leaders gathered in central Beijing for a major event.

"We are so delighted to have all of you with us," Xi said as he opened the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), an occasion he described as the reunion of the China-Africa big family.

Xi called for efforts to forge an even stronger China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

With the next three years in sight, he put forward eight initiatives and backed it up with a pledge of financing amounting to 60 billion U.S. dollars.

Among the measures are the import of more non-resource products from Africa, increased corporate investment, more direct flights, an environmental cooperation center, an African studies institute, and security programs fighting pirates and terrorists.

Calling Africa a "land of great promise" and a continent "full of hope," Xi said no one can hold back the Chinese people or the African people as they march toward rejuvenation.

The summit is the third of its kind since FOCAC was set up 18 years ago.

Liu Guijin, a veteran diplomat who once served as the first special representative of the Chinese government on African affairs, said the initiatives were a follow-up to the 10 cooperation plans announced at the last summit in 2015.

"Our policies have been very consistent. We build on past success and move ahead," Liu said.

On industrial promotion, Xi said a China-Africa economic and trade expo will be held in China.

A number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa will be built or upgraded.

"We encourage Chinese companies to make at least 10 billion U.S. dollars of investment in Africa in the next three years," he said.

Zhu Gongshan, chairman of Chinese energy company GCL Group, said he would like to scale up investment in Africa, especially to tap into the huge market potential of solar-power generation. His company had already set foot in Ethiopia and Djibouti.

"The outlook is good. We as business people have high hopes and are more willing to invest," he said.

Observers said as a strength of Chinese support, infrastructure development in Africa will continue to benefit from concessional loans and credit lines.

Xi specifically pledged support for Chinese companies that adopt an investment-construction-operation model in infrastructure projects.

He said China will work with Africa to undertake a number of key connectivity projects.

That will increase landmark infrastructure rising up across the continent over the past few years, such as the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya and the Maputo Cross-sea Bridge in Mozambique.

On trade, Xi said China has decided to increase imports, particularly non-resource products, from Africa, support the African Continental Free Trade Area, and hold free trade talks with interested countries and regions.

Xi’s initiatives also cover capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security.

Environmental protection also featured high on the agenda.

Xi said 50 aid projects will be undertaken on green development and ecological and environmental protection in Africa, with a focus on tackling climate change, marine cooperation, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.

"The speech highlighted what we are all doing now," said Wang Qingfeng, director of the Nairobi-based Sino-African Joint Research Center with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Since 2013, the center has put forward more than 45 joint research programs including biodiversity investigation, pathogenic microorganism detection, geographic science, and remote sensing.

Kembabazi Barbara Gamukama, a Ugandan student in Beijing, said she was motivated by Xi’s speech too.

"China will import more from Africa. That means Uganda can export more coffee, and there are opportunities for Uganda’s young people looking for jobs," she said.

Despite the geographical distance between them, China and Africa enjoy a friendship that has stood the test of time.

Profound friendships were first forged among the founding fathers of China and African countries in the middle of last century. Signature aid projects like the Tanzania-Zambia Railway in the 1970s brought the people closer.

Xi expounded at the summit that China follows a "five-no" approach in its relations with Africa: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in their internal affairs; no imposition of China’s will on them; no attachment of political strings to assistance; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation.

"China follows the principle of giving more and taking less, giving before taking and giving without asking for return," Xi said.

A sign of the China-Africa family getting closer can be seen by the adding of new FOCAC members.

All 53 African countries with diplomatic ties with China are now members.

Xi led a round of loud applause on Monday as he welcomed the Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Burkina Faso as the three new members.

"Africa has chosen China," Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore told Xinhua before he flew to Beijing.

"It is our choice and we stick to that."

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who serves as the rotating chairperson of the African Union for 2018, said the summit comes at the right time as globalization faces headwinds.

Talking to reporters before the summit, Kagame said there is a "need for co-operation more than ever" as some countries make clear their intentions to serve themselves first over other countries.

Xi reiterated China’s stance to safeguard an open world economy and the multilateral trade system, rejecting protectionism and unilateralism.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said China’s cooperation with Africa is fundamental for Africa’s success, which underpins the success of the world in development and peace.

China and Africa are home to roughly 2.6 billion people, making up 35 percent of the world’s population.

Xi said China and Africa have long formed a community with a shared future and will now turn it into a pacesetter for building such a community for humanity.

"Our goal is to make the world a place of peace and stability and life happier and more fulfilling for all," Xi said.


Observers and experts speak highly of President
Xi’s speech at China-Africa summit in Beijing

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- Political observers, policy researchers and experts on international affairs spoke highly of President Xi Jinping’s speech at a high-level meeting between Chinese and African leaders on Monday.

They believe that the speech has pointed out the direction for African countries’ participation in building the Belt and Road jointly and joining hands with China to build a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

In the keynote speech themed "walk together towards prosperity," President Xi said that China stands ready to strengthen comprehensive cooperation with African countries to build a road of high-quality development that is suited to national conditions, inclusive and beneficial to all.

Constantinos Berhe Tesfu, professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University, said Ethiopia is a beneficiary of China-Africa cooperation.

The building of industrial parks in Ethiopia and the expansion work on the Bole International Airport in the capital city all benefit from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, he said.

Gedion Jalata, CEO of the Center for Excellence International Consult in Ethiopia, said the Belt and Road Initiative offered African countries diversified choices on their paths of development, provided more opportunities to relevant countries in the aspects of capital and experience, and strengthened linkage between Africa and China in the fields of trade and investment.

Blandina Kilama, a senior researcher at the Policy Research for Development in Tanzania, said more and more Chinese entrepreneurs have come to invest in Tanzania in recent years, which created many jobs for the locals.

Historical experience shows that it is in the interests of Tanzania to consolidate cooperation with China, she said.

Tanzanian lawmaker Dalaly Kafumu said that the key to the deepening of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation is that China does not attach political strings to assistance to Africa.

He believes that the increasingly close trade between China and Africa will inevitably bring more opportunities to African countries.

The building of interconnectivity helps African countries to alleviate poverty and move toward modernization, while it also encourages Chinese companies to go abroad, said Denise Kodhe, executive director of the Institute for Democracy and Leadership in Africa, a Kenyan think tank.

China understands the fact that each country has its own national conditions and adopts its own political system; and it is even more aware that one can not impose its own political system and development path upon others - something that Western countries lack, said Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.

The way China invests in and cooperates with Africa is appreciated by African countries and is a better way to help improve African countries’ economy and benefit the African people, said Ruhanya.

Charles Onunaiju, director of the Center for China Studies in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, said that Xi encourages two-way investment between Chinese and African enterprises, which is exciting.

It is foreseeable that as more Chinese companies invest in Africa and introduce technology and management experience to local companies, the latter will achieve great benefits and development, Onunaiju said, adding that it will also allow more "made in Africa" products to enter the international market.

South African president rejects claims of Chinese ‘colonialism’

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday dismissed allegations of China practicing colonialism in Africa, saying China instead has been a partner in boosting social and economic development on the continent.

Ramaphosa made the remarks in a speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"Since its launch in the year 2000, FOCAC has grown both in extent and scope," he said.

"It serves as an effective platform for South-South co-operation focused on the tangible improvement of the quality of lives of the people of Africa."

"In the values that it promotes, in the manner that it operates, and the impact it has on African countries, FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe," said the South African president, who is co-chairing the event with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ramaphosa, who is on a state visit to China until Wednesday, said FOCAC is concerned with a lot more than trade and investment.

"We are working to build an Africa that is defined by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law," he said, calling China-Africa relations a "dynamic force in the international arena."

He hailed China’s Belt and Road Initiative as complementing the forum’s goals and Africa’s own development plans over the next several decades, saying the grand global initiative will boost trade in Africa.

Lauding China’s economic achievements, Ramaphosa said China and Africa are working together to "advance growth and development on the African continent."

"There are many valuable lessons that Africa can learn from China’s impressive growth model and its approach to meeting the needs of its people," he said.

He added that the forum "has become an essential platform to contribute to Africa’s social and economic advancement" and contributes to promoting multilateralism in an "increasingly uncertain global environment."

Ramaphosa concluded his speech by saying that FOCAC’s mission extends beyond China and Africa, because "together we are working to build a community of a shared future for mankind."

China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for the past nine years, and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.

Bilateral trade amounted to 39 billion U.S. dollars last year.

This is Ramaphosa’s first visit to China as South African president. He held talks with President Xi on Sunday.



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