|FOCAC benefits various African countries|
The Fourth FOCAC Ministerial Conference is due to be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November 8-9. The conference is to be held under the background that its mechanism have been further improved, its roles have been played more prominently, its influences have been continuously expanded, and the overall development of China-Africa friendly cooperation relations has been forcefully promoted since the foundation of FOCAC nine years ago. Chinese and African personages generally believe that the conference will lead to important influence on China-Africa's joint efforts in meeting various practical challenges and promoting the further development of the bilateral relationship.
Pragmatic measures progress smoothly
Reviewing the nine-years' development, FOCAC is like a flag to lead Chinese-African relations to keep progressing. China and Africa have taken advantage of the platform of forum to have regular collective dialogues, which strengthens their mutual support.
Tanzanian president Kikwete said that establishing FOCAC was “a great proposal”. Through the beneficial framework, African countries and China can strengthen their solidarity and cooperation. Each conference of the forum has introduced specific cooperation measures, especially the successful convening of 2006 Beijing Summit which has stirred significant reaction throughout the world.
At the Beijing Summit, the Chinese government announced eight policy measures of pragmatic cooperation with Africa. So far, most of the measures have been implemented: China has realized the goal of doubling its aid to Africa; the range of zero-tariff treatment for African exported items to China has been expanded; debt remission to Africa is basically completed; China-Africa development fund has been launched and operated. A large batch of major cooperation programs have been performed or accomplished; some of the economic and trade cooperation areas have begun to take shape; China-aided hospital, malaria control and prevention center, agricultural technology pilot center, rural primary schools have well progressed.; China youth volunteers and senior agricultural experts go to work in Africa one group after another.
The Chinese government has effectively realized its promises for Africa reflecting the sincerity of strengthening the cooperation with Africa, which has won the universal praise in the international community.
Economic and trade cooperation continues to strengthen
Since 2000, the annual average growth rate of China-Africa trade has been over 30%. In 2008, the trade volume broke through 100 billion US dollars for the first time which doubled that of 2006 and increased by 10 times compared with that of 2000. The goal of reaching 100 billion US dollars of China-Africa trade volume by 2010 put forward on Beijing Summit has been realized two years ahead of time. Through the measures like providing tariff-remission treatment for part of the exported items to China from the least developed countries, hosting African commodity exhibition, dispatching purchasing groups, etc., China further opens its market to promote the African export to China.
In the field of investment, by the end of 2008, China’s direct investment stock in Africa has been up to 7.8 billion US dollars. Though the overseas investment dropped rapidly, China’s direct investment in Africa has taken on an increased trend with up to 0.875 billion dollars in January to September with an increase rate of 77.5% compared with the corresponding period last year, which becomes a highlight point. Take China’s investment in Zambia as an example. Since the international financial crisis last year, China has been sticking to the promise of “no halt of the production, no unemployment, and no reduction of investment”. When many Western investors retreated from Zambia, and when there were economic difficulties in Zambia and many people were unemployed, Chinese investors didn't dismiss a single employee. They increased, on the contrary, the investment in Zambia and created new employment opportunities. The Zambian president Banda said, “The facts have proved that China is a genuine friend and a friend who can offer help when you really need it.”
In the aspect of infrastructure construction, China has stuck for years to providing various capitals like interest-free and preferential loans, preferential buyer's credit on exports, business loan, etc. for Africa to support Africa’s infrastructure construction. According a report by the World Bank in July last year, China's infrastructure construction and investment in Africa are playing an important role. Kenyan Foreign Minister Wetangula pointed out that since FOCAC Beijing Summit, China-Africa cooperation had made great progress. At present, the influence of China on Africa has been obviously increased. Many African countries have the investment or cooperative development programs from China. These programs, and particularly projects in infra-structure construction have played a remarkably promoting role in the economic development of African countries.
Leading role among various countries in focusing attention on Africa
The Fourth FOCAC Ministerial Conference is the first ministerial conference since 2006 Beijing Summit. Assistant Foreign Minister of China, Zhai Jun said at the press conference on November 2th that the conference was held at a time when the world situation had been changing constantly, the influence of the international financial crisis had been expanding and Chinese-African relations were facing new opportunities and challenges, which was of great importance to further deepening of the China-Africa cooperation.
Shortly before the conference, the African affairs consultant of Arab League, Zaide Sabban gave positive comments on the forum while accepting an interview in Egypt by Xinhua News Agency. He pointed out that “the forum completely reflects the attention that China has on Africa. China is cooperating with many African countries to realize both sides' mutual benefits in economy and trade. This cooperation has great influences on the development plans of these countries. ”
Arab League's ex-ambassador to China Muhammad Abdel-Wahab Al-Sakit believed, “China's decision of establishing FOCAC is wise. Its policy basis is to consult and cooperate with different nations in the world. The forum will effectively promote the development of Chinese-African relations because China has provided aids and loans for African countries to support the economic development of the continent.”
FOCAC has also stimulated the attention of the whole world on Africa, led the international communities to pay more attention to Africa and to increase the investment in Africa.
Just as Zhang Ming, Director-General of the Department of African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Ten years ago, nearly no public voice paid any attention to Africa, but now Africa is given attention by all the world media. The cooperation of China with Africa has led the whole world, especially the big powers and newly emerging big nations to pay attention to Africa. That is really something which we can take pride in.”