Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles recently, marking a complete success of his first overseas visit in 2021. Wang Yi had candid and in-depth exchanges with leaders and foreign ministers of the five countries and signed a series of cooperation agreements. The five countries all indicated that they attach great importance to developing relations with China, cherish bilateral friendship and cooperation, and are ready to further enhance political mutual trust, join hands in fighting the pandemic, jointly build the “Belt And Road” initiative, strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
The original aspiration of China-Africa friendship has remained unchanged for more than 30 years, marched forward regardless of hardship. This visit was taking place against the background of the repeating outbreaks of COVID-19 and the interweaving of multiple problems facing Africa with regard to economy, social and livelihood. Chinese President Xi Jinping once said that we need to find new opportunities in the crisis and make new progresses in the changing situation. This visit was not only a trip of friendship to deepen cooperation, but also a pioneering trip to jointly meet challenges. During the visit, taking into consideration the actual situation of pandemic prevention and economic development, China and Africa put forward a series of new measures and initiatives in light of local conditions with a view to combating the pandemic, stabilizing the economy and promoting cooperation. Although the pandemic has posed a severe challenge to African countries, it is also an “accelerator” for the upgrading of China-Africa cooperation. This visit has sent out four clear signals:
First, it shows that the good tradition of Chinese diplomacy that the foreign minister always begins a year’s overseas visits in Africa will not be changed. Of all the major powers in the world China has solely upheld this tradition. Wang Yi said that this year’s COVID-19 pandemic cannot break this tradition which has been passed down for 31 years in a row or because of our firm commitment to our original aspiration in weal and woe. Under the momentum of second wave of the pandemic that is spreading in Africa, the Chinese side has showcased with this practical action the great importance China attaches to Africa, the unshakable friendship between China and its African brothers and the staunch support of China for the development and prosperity of African countries. China’s good tradition to Africa will not change in spite of the pandemic, and China-Africa relations will not stagnate when facing difficulties and challenges.
Second, it plans for the direction of China-Africa relations in the post-epidemic era. During the visit, the two sides fully aligned their strategies and jointly decided to focus on promoting cooperation in infrastructure, free trade area construction, optimization of production capacity investment layout and scientific and technological innovation under the framework of “Belt And Road” initiative. the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana became the 45th and 46th African partners to participate in “Belt And Road” cooperation. China and Africa reviewed the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC), and made recommendations based in the new situation, new needs, and new opportunities both side agreed to continue to strengthen FOCAC as a gold-lettered signboard, and draw a picture of Africa in the future including health, manufacturing, connectivity, harvest, digitization, pro-environment and safety.
Third, it demonstrates China’s foreign policy and diplomatic principle towards Africa. In its cooperation with Africa, China has implemented the principles of “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith” as well as the principle of “upholding justice while pursuing shared interests” both put forward by President Xi Jinping. We bear in mind the well-being of the African people, base on the needs and interests of the African side, attach no political strings, and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of African countries, which has won us universal popularity in Africa. In Tanzania, Wang Yi reviewed the story of China-Tanzania friendship and put forward a seven-point proposal on upgrading China-Africa cooperation. When meeting with his Seychelles counterpart, Wang Yi said that China has always adhered to the principle of equality for all countries, big or small, in its diplomacy, and China-Seychelles relations is a good example in this regard.
Fourth, it manifests China and Africa’s firm support for multilateralism. The world is experiencing major changes unseen in a century, while China and Africa are natural strategic partners. China always advocates multilateralism, opposes power politics, promotes democracy in international relations and supports the United Nations in playing its due role in international affairs. China’s development is a contribution to the growth of force for peace, justice and other developing countries. President Xi Jinping once said that major countries should act like major countries. As the largest developing country, China always fulfills its due international obligations. China supports Africa in playing a more active role in international affairs as an equal member of the international community and stands ready to work with Africa to safeguard world peace, stability and prosperity. Wang Yi stressed in particular that it is a firm belief of China that Africa is not an arena for superpower games but should be a major stage for international cooperation. China is willing to actively promote tripartite or multi-party cooperation with Africa on the basis of fully respecting the will of African countries. China-Africa relations is not targeted at any third party but any attempt to undermine China-Africa unity is futile.
Despite the pandemic, over 1,100 cooperation projects have kept going and nearly 100,000 Chinese technicians and engineers worked dutifully. A number of railway, road and power station projects have also resumed work. These efforts contributed in important ways to the economic and social well-being of the local communities. China will actively implement the outcomes of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, continue to provide African countries with much-needed anti-epidemic supplies, send medical experts, establish a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with those in Africa, accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters and work together with other G20 members on debt service suspension for Africa. China will also honor the pledge to turn COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, carry out cooperation with African countries in need to improve the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa.
There is an old saying in China: “People of similar interest do not consider the distance of seas and mountains as far.” China and Africa have always shared a common destiny. The achievements of China-Africa cooperation have spread across Africa and benefited the African people in all aspects of their lives. China and Africa have always supported and never abandoned each other. The friendship between China and Africa has been enhanced in the face of the pandemic. China-Africa relations is at their best in history and China-Africa cooperation is full of hope for the future. China is ready to work with the African side to continually build consensus, increase mutual trust, promote cooperation and deepen friendly relations so as to build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. We believe that no matter how the international situation changes, no matter what challenge we face, and no matter what kind of disturbance and disruption we encounter, the traditional friendship between China and Africa will remain as firm and stable as Mountain and get stronger and stronger.
(By: Amb. Liu Yuxi, Head of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the African Union)