Address by H.E. Assistant Foreign Minister Deng Li At the Opening Ceremony of The Ninth China-Africa Think Tank Forum
Beijing, 5 November 2020
Colleagues and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you at the opening ceremony of the Ninth China-Africa Think Tank Forum. On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I wish to offer our warm congratulations on the opening of the Forum and cordial greetings to all guests present and those who join us online.
Twenty years ago at the turn of the century, our world went through profound changes brought by rapid economic globalization, the advent of the Internet age and growing international competition. At that time, both China and Africa faced the daunting task of national development and renewal, and had a strong desire for better development through cooperation. Thus the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) came into being.
In the two decades since then, China and Africa have seized the opportunities to develop. Last year, trade between us surpassed 200 billion dollars and China’s all-sector direct investment stock in Africa neared 50 billion dollars, representing an increase of 20 times and 100 times from 20 years ago. Burgeoning China-Africa cooperation on all fronts has boosted development on both sides, and FOCAC has become a distinct symbol in international cooperation with Africa and in South-South cooperation.
However, 20 years later, we see backlashes against economic globalization, flagging global growth, and rising unilateralism and bullyism. China-Africa cooperation has stayed strong despite these challenges thanks to an unwavering commitment on both sides.
We have been committed to mutual respect and equality. Both sides have upheld the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and believe in equality among all countries regardless of their size. Every FOCAC decision is jointly made; the needs and strengths of both sides are fully considered; the meetings and measures are carefully conceived; and all projects and cooperation are advanced through consultation. Matters are worked out through discussion and no one is asked to do things against his will. Because of this commitment to mutual respect and equality, China and Africa have been able to treat each other with all sincerity and keep deepening mutual political trust.
We have been committed to real results and mutual benefit. Practical cooperation between the two sides is based on solid common interests. Together, we have built dozens of economic and industrial zones, and completed a large number of railways, expressways, airports, ports and power stations, providing an important impetus to growth and sustainable development in Africa. Without real results and fruitful outcomes that benefit both sides, China-Africa cooperation could not have been so enduring and successful, earning the recognition of the Chinese and African people and the wider international community.
We have been committed to people-first and China-Africa friendship. Providing a better life to our people is our shared goal. That is why FOCAC meetings have consistently focused on education, agriculture, health, employment and other matters close to people’s well-being. Our practical cooperation aims to serve the people, and has been made possible thanks to the close collaboration between our people. Without the hard work of Chinese and African workers side by side, it would be impossible to deliver the buildings and bridges one after another. Friendship between our peoples constitutes the bedrock of our long-lasting relationship.
We have been committed to innovation, openness and inclusiveness. FOCAC has kept its dynamism by constantly improving the mechanisms. So far, we have held three FOCAC summits, seven ministerial meetings, two coordinators meetings, and numerous events under 11 sub-forums. An all-dimensional cooperation architecture has been put in place. At the same time, China-Africa cooperation has been open and inclusive. Exclusion is not our choice. China wants to work with the rest of the global community in jointly supporting Africa’s development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Cooperation between China and Africa has come a long way, but it also faces challenges. Some countries have gone to all lengths to smear, attack and disrupt our cooperation.
However, we have strong confidence that China-Africa friendship has our people’s support, China-Africa cooperation serves their fundamental interests, and China-Africa ties are unbreakable. No attempt by anyone, at any time or under any pretext to disrupt China-Africa cooperation will succeed. China and Africa will continue to make concerted, determined efforts to build an even stronger community with a shared future, and China-Africa relations will go from strength to strength.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since its founding, the China-Africa Think Tank Forum has been promoting exchanges and mutual learning among Chinese and African think tanks and experts to pool wisdom and contribute intellectual input to China-Africa relations. Right now, the international landscape is going through profound changes. The new era bestows on us new missions, and the new developments necessitate new actions. It is upon the Chinese and African scholars to keep up your good work and make new progress. Let me share a few thoughts on this:
Firstly of all, we hope scholars from both sides will accurately grasp the current international developments and view China-Africa relations from a global, long-term perspective. Keeping in mind the new opportunities and challenges facing our relations, you may want to focus your research activities on how China and Africa better respond to the global shifts, how we transform and upgrade our cooperation, and how to safeguard our common interests. Open-minded and in-depth exchanges are needed and more joint systematic researches and policy planning discussions are encouraged. These are the intellectual support needed to help us strengthen strategic synergy and broaden practical cooperation.
Second, we encourage you to make more field trips to China-Africa collaborative projects and programs. Sustained and focused study in a particular area will not only turn you into the real expert of the field, but also enable you to contribute more inspiring ideas to China-Africa relations. We look forward to hearing more incisive input and suggestions centering around next year’s FOCAC meetings and what measures we may take to move forward cooperation in FTA development, industrial chain complementarity, public health, 5G, just to name a few areas.
Third, we hope you will be more articulate in telling the China-Africa story. Groundless attacks and smears of China-Africa relations must be met with solid, convincing arguments underpinned by facts and statistics. This is how you can help shape an objective and impartial public view on China-Africa relations. At the same time, it is also necessary to have more exchanges with other parts of the world and make the concerted voice of China and Africa heard. By doing so, you will galvanize stronger support for China-Africa cooperation in global public opinion and raise the profile of Chinese and African think tanks in the world.
Finally, I wish the Ninth China-Africa Think Tank Forum a full success.