Twenty years ago, Chinese and African leaders gathered in Beijing to inaugurate the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). A new era was thus opened for China-Africa relations. Over the two decades, by acting along the prevailing trend of peace, development and cooperation, FOCAC has established itself as a pacesetter for cooperation with Africa, a champion of multilateralism, and a fine example of mutually beneficial cooperation.
The past twenty years have been a journey of productive cooperation between China and Africa. China-Africa trade reached $208.7 billion last year, and China’s direct investment stock in Africa stood at US $49.1 billion, 20 times and 100 times more than 20 years ago respectively. China has built more than 6,000 kilometers of railways and roads respectively in Africa, developed nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power facilities in Africa, which has brought significant changes to Africa’s economic and social development. China has provided about 120,000 government scholarships to African countries, established 61 Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius classrooms in 46 African countries, and sent a total of 21,000 medical workers to 48 African countries, offering treatment to about 220 million patients. China-Africa cooperation has not only contributed to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, but also contributed to the strength of Africa through unity. This fully demonstrates that developing countries, through independent exploration, are fully capable of finding a path of rejuvenation suited to their own national conditions.
The China-Africa relationship will never stop moving forward. The development of FOCAC will never take a break. As Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently put forward four propositions on how to enable FOCAC to continue leading China-Africa relations to achieve progress in creative ways at the reception commemorating the 20th anniversary of FOCAC, “We need to strengthen solidarity and build a stronger community with a shared future; we need to tide over the current challenge together and build a China-Africa community of health for all; we need to pursue win-win cooperation to build a China-Africa community of development for all; we need to embrace our responsibilities and work toward a community with a shared future for mankind.”
At present, the world is undergoing changes unseen in a century, and COVID-19 is accelerating the evolution of the international order. The new challenge calls for new responsibility, and the new situation calls for new actions. 2020 is a crucial year for China to achieve the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and embarks on a new journey to fully build a modern socialist country. The fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which was just concluded, released a communique, stating that China will remain committed to the new concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development, deepen supply-side structural reform, accelerate efforts to establish a new dual-cycle development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and the domestic and international cycles reinforcing each other, and basically achieve socialist modernization by 2035. The communiqué mentioned “reform” and “opening-up” more than 20 times, pledging to further expand and deepen opening-up, establish new institutions for an open economy at a higher level, and pursue win-win international cooperation.
I have been in Nigeria for two years. I am fortunate to be an eyewitness to so many great things happened in this great nation. And I feel proud that China has been proved to be the strategic partner of Nigeria in its pursuit of peace, stability and prosperity.
As the largest developing country in the world, China highly values its strategic partnership with Nigeria, the largest developing country in Africa. Over the past two decades, the all-round, wide-ranging and high-quality bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria has been a pace-setter for China-Africa cooperation.
Under the strategic guidance and personal commitment of President Xi Jinping and President Buhari, China and Nigeria have significantly enhanced political trust and secured fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation. Nigeria remains China’s largest project-contracting market, largest export market, second largest trading partner, and major investment destination in Africa. People-to-people exchanges have been thriving. The number of Nigerian students study in China rose to 6800, which stands first in all African countries. In this year’s fight against the pandemic, China and Nigeria enjoyed great solidarity and support from each other.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Nigeria diplomatic relations, and will see next FOCAC meeting to be held in Senegal. China stands ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with Nigeria and other African countries, to open up a far brighter future for China-Nigeria relations and China-Africa relations.
•Mr. Yong is chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of China in Nigeria