Full Text: China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation (5) VII. Giving Full Play to the Guidance Role of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
Founded in 2000 by China and Africa, FOCAC has formed dialogue and cooperation mechanisms at various levels such as ministerial conferences, senior official meetings and entrepreneurs' conferences. So far, four ministerial conferences and a summit have been held within this framework. Owing to the joint efforts of China and Africa, FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa. It enhances political mutual trust, leads to cooperation, especially economic and trade cooperation, and expands and deepens China-Africa relations, and raises the level of their relations.
Since the first FOCAC Ministerial Conference in 2000, the Chinese government, focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing China and Africa, has taken a series of steps to deepen China-Africa economic relations and trade on the basis of long-term cooperation, mutual respect and consultation on an equal footing. These steps, fitting the needs of Africa, represent the practical spirit and creative endeavors of the Chinese government.
At the first FOCAC Ministerial Conference China announced it would reduce or cancel African countries' debts to China, and encouraged Chinese companies to invest in Africa and train professionals for Africa. At the second FOCAC Ministerial Conference in 2003, China pledged to increase aid to Africa, enhance cooperation in the sphere of human resources development and give zero-tariff treatment to some of the exported products from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa with diplomatic ties with China.
At the Beijing Summit and third Ministerial Conference of FOCAC in 2006, China announced an eight-point plan for strengthening practical China-Africa cooperation and supporting the development of Africa, including increasing assistance; providing preferential loans; helping the African Union (AU) to build a convention center; raising the number of African export items to China eligible for zero-tariff treatment; setting up a China-Africa Development Fund; building overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in African countries; setting up demonstration centers of agricultural technology; and setting up malaria prevention and treatment centers. All the above-mentioned eight commitments were fully in place by the end of 2009 with the joint endeavors of China and Africa.
In 2009 China declared another eight-point plan at the fourth FOCAC Ministerial Conference, covering agriculture, environmental protection, investment promotion, debt reduction and cancellation, wider market access, education, and medical care and public health. These eight commitments, focusing on improving the living standards of the African people, enhancing cooperation in agriculture and human resource development and raising Africa' s self-reliance capacity, aim to help African countries solve their current practical problems, realize sustainable growth, and further consolidate the foundation for economic and social development.
China's commitments offered through FOCAC help all African countries having diplomatic ties with China, and provide practical benefits to these countries and their peoples.
In future, based on the spirit of mutual benefit and progress, friendly consultation, pragmatism and high efficiency, the Chinese government will, together with African countries, continue to strengthen the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa within the FOCAC framework, and further develop a new-type of China-Africa strategic partnership. Conclusion
The world today is undergoing great changes and adjustments. The economic recession triggered by the international financial crisis hasn't come to an end yet. Global issues of food security, energy supply, climate change and prevention and control of epidemic diseases have become more prominent. And uncertain factors in the global economy are increasing. As developing countries, China and African countries now face good opportunities to boost their growth and also the challenges of complex global problems.
China and Africa enjoy complementarity. Their common interests are constantly expanding, and the future of their economic and trade cooperation is bright. On the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development, China will continue to promote China-Africa economic exchanges within bilateral or multilateral frameworks, broaden the scope of cooperation, explore new methods of cooperation and share the fruits of development with the African countries.
As economic globalization progresses, the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa will definitely gain momentum to reach a larger scale, broader scope and higher level with their joint endeavors, which can give new energy and vitality to overall China-Africa cooperation and make more contributions to building a world with long-lasting peace, common prosperity and harmony.
African dancers perform at a performing gala themed on "Ode to Friendship" staged to mark the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC
The Eight-Point Plan China Pledged at the FOCAC Beijing Summit
1. Increase assistance to African countries, and by 2009 double the size of its assistance to African countries in 2006.
2. Provide US$3 billion in preferential loans and US$2 billion in preferential export buyer' s credit to African countries in the next three years.
3. Set up the China-Africa Development Fund, the total amount of which will gradually reach US$5 billion, to give encouragement and support to Chinese companies investing in projects in Africa.
4. Help the African Union to build a convention center in order to support African countries in their efforts to strengthen themselves through unity and speed up African integration.
5. Cancel the repayment of interest-free government loans that had become due by the end of 2005 to China by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa that have diplomatic ties with China.
6. Further open the Chinese market to Africa, and increase from 190 to over 440 the number of African export items to China eligible for zero-tariff treatment from the LDCs in Africa having diplomatic relations with China.
7. Set up three to five overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in African countries in the next three years.
Train 15,000 professionals for African countries in the next three years; send 100 senior experts in agricultural technology to Africa; set up in Africa 10 demonstration centers of agricultural technology with special features; assist African countries in building 30 hospitals and provide a grant of 300 million yuan to African countries that is used to buy anti-malaria drugs like artemisinin and build 30 centers for prevention and treatment of malaria; dispatch 300 young volunteers to African countries; help African countries set up 100 rural schools; increase the number of Chinese government scholarships for African students from the current 2,000 per year to 4,000 per year by the end of 2008. Appendix II
The New Eight-Point Plan China Pledged at the Fourth FOCAC Ministerial Conference
1. China proposed the establishment of a China-Africa partnership in addressing climate change and the holding of senior official consultations on a non-regular basis to strengthen cooperation in satellite weather monitoring, development and use of new energy, prevention and control of desertification, and urban environmental protection. The Chinese government has decided to assist African countries with 100 clean energy projects in the fields of solar energy, biogas and small hydro-power stations.
2. To intensify cooperation in science and technology, China pro-posed to launch the China-Africa Science and Technology Partnership Plan, carry out 100 joint research and demonstration projects, invite 100 African post-doctoral students to conduct scientific research in China and subsidize them when they return to their home countries to work.
3. In order to raise African countries' capacity in financing, the Chinese government will provide US$10 billion in preferential loans to African countries. China supports the establishment by Chinese financial institutions of a special loan of US$1 billion for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. The Chinese government will cancel debts of interest-free government loans that will mature by the end of 2009 owed by all HIPCs and the LDCs in Africa having diplomatic relations with China.
4. China will further open its market to African countries. It will gradually give zero-tariff treatment to 95% of exports from the LDCs in Africa having diplomatic relations with China. As the first step, China grants zero-tariff treatment to 60% of the exported commodities from those countries in 2010.
5. In order to further strengthen agricultural cooperation and improve African countries' capacity for food security, China will in-crease to 20 the total number of agricultural technology demonstration centers built for African countries, send 50 agricultural technology teams to Africa and help train 2,000 agricultural technicians for African countries.
6. China will continue to deepen China-African cooperation in medical care and public health service. It will provide 500 million yuan worth of medical equipment and malaria-fighting materials to 30 hospitals and 30 malaria prevention and treatment centers which have been built with China's assistance, and help African countries train a total of 3,000 doctors and nurses.
7. In order to further enhance cooperation in human resource development and education, the Chinese government will help African countries to build 50 China-Africa friendship schools and train 1,500 school headmasters and teachers; increase the number of Chinese government scholarships for African students to 5,500 by 2012; and train a total of 20,000 professionals in various sectors for African countries in the next three years.
8. To enlarge people-to-people exchanges, China proposed to implement a China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan to strengthen cooperation and exchanges between scholars and think tanks, which will also provide intellectual support for better policy-making regarding cooperation between the two sides.