The Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to Liberia, H.E. Ren Yisheng on Tuesday November 24, 2020, addressed the Liberian Media through a video conference, highlighting mutually rewarding relationship between Africa and the Peoples Republic of China on the occasion commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
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Mr. Charles B. Coffey, President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and all Executives of Media Institutions in Liberia,
Mr. Dexter S. Sumo, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia,
Professor Josephus Moses Gray, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences at the University of Liberia,
Mr. Siaffa G. Sheriff, President of Liberia-China Friendship Organization (LICFO),
Mr. Clifton Garpeh, Jr., President of the Liberian Association of Chinese Trained Scholars (LACTS),
- It is a great pleasure to host you all through this video conference, in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). In the year 2000, shortly after the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, Chinese and African leaders gathered in Beijing to inaugurate FOCAC. That event twenty years ago marked the opening of a new era for China-Africa relations. Since then, the family of China and African nations has had its own platform for collective dialogue and mechanism for practical cooperation, ushering in a brand new chapter in China-Africa relations.
Over the two decades, FOCAC has established itself as a pacesetter for cooperation with Africa, a champion of multilateralism, and a fine example of mutually beneficial cooperation. It has grown into a big family where all are equal members bound by brotherly ties and treat each other with respect, regardless of size or strength. We have carried forward the profound friendship forged in our struggles for national liberation. We have firmly supported each other on issues concerning core interests and major concerns. We have stood together in upholding the banner of multilateralism, fairness and justice. Together, we have elevated the international standing and influence of developing countries and safeguarded the overall interests of the developing world. The past twenty years have been a journey of productive cooperation. FOCAC has bolstered high-level interactions and political trust between China and Africa, delivering a leap in China-Africa relations from “a new type of partnership” to “a new type of strategic partnership” and to “a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership”.
China-Africa cooperation has made impressive achievements. In 2019, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa topped US$49.1 billion, up by nearly 100 times from the year 2000; China-Africa trade reached US$208.7 billion, 20 times the size of 2000. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and has contributed more than 20% to Africa’s growth for a number of years. Cooperation in other fields, from infrastructure construction, science, education, culture, health, to people-to-people exchange, peace and security, is also making significant headway.
The political foundation of FOCAC has been cemented over the past two decades. President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to China-Africa relations. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Presidnet Xi has personally laid down principles guiding China’s Africa policy including sincerity, real results, amity and good faith; the outlook of righteousness and benefits, and called for building a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. His devotion to leadership diplomacy with Africa has given a strong boost to the relations between the two sides. In 2013, President Xi Jinping chose Africa as the destination of his first overseas visit as the Head of State of China. So far, he has visited Africa 4 times, covering all sub-regions of the continent. Political interactions between the two sides are more frequent, extensive and unprecedented in scale. For example, on the sidelines of the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2018, President Xi attended more than 70 bilateral and multilateral events in eight days. With the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and Gambia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Burkina Faso, the China-Africa family has been further expanded. To date, China enjoys diplomatic relations with 53 African countries.
Practical cooperation has been fruitful over the past two decades. China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has been growing at a higher speed, demonstrating three encouraging shifts: from government-driven to market-driven, from trade in goods to industrial cooperation, and from engineering contracts to investment and operations. Together, the two sides drafted and implemented ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives, taking practical cooperation to a new level. China-Africa Belt and Road(B&R) cooperation is progressing with a strong momentum: 44 African countries and the AU Commission signed B&R cooperation documents with China, and a host of projects such as railways, roads, airports, seaports and power plants have come to fruition, enabling remarkable change in Africa’s economic and social development.
China-Africa cultural exchanges have been thriving. Events across a diverse range of areas, including the China-Africa Youth Festival, Think Tank Forum, Joint Research and Exchange Program, Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, and the China-Africa Press Center, have been successful. So far, China has provided about 120,000 government scholarships to African countries, set up 61 Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms in collaboration with 46 African countries. China has dispatched 21,000 medical team members to 48 African countries, having treated around 220 million African patients. China and African countries have forged 150 pairs of sister cities. All these efforts have consolidated popular support for China-Africa friendship.
Mutual support has been further strengthened. China and Africa fought side by side against both Ebola and COVID-19. The two sides have supported each other on issues of each other’s core interests and major concerns. China-Africa peace and security cooperation has been deepened. The two sides have jointly supported multilateralism, opposed unilateralism and protectionism, safeguarded the international order and international system with the United Nations at the core, and promoted the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other basic norms governing international relations. Such collaboration has effectively upheld the shared interests of developing countries as well as the overall interests of the whole international community.
- This 20th anniversary celebration of FOCAC has coincided with formulation of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (FYP 2021-2025). A communiqué of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said the implementation of the 13th FYP has been smooth. Decisive success has been made in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. By adhering to the new development concept and unswervingly advancing reform and opening-up, great achievements have been made since the fourth plenary session. During the past year, China has deepened supply-side reform, enhanced macro-economic regulation and expanded domestic demand as the strategic foundation, adding that China has seen its economic growth beat expectations, people’s living standards ensured, and the overall situation of society remained stable over the past year.
China’s gross domestic product expected to exceed 100 trillion yuan ($14.9 trillion) in 2020. The IMF projected China’s economy to grow by 1.9 percent in 2020 in its latest World Economic Outlook report, making it the only major economy that will see positive growth this year, with the global economy expected to post a 4.4-percent decline. 55.75 million rural residents lifted out of poverty; more than 60 million new urban jobs created; annual grain output remained above 650 million metric tons for five consecutive years; basic medical insurance covers over 1.3 billion people; basic old-age insurance covers nearly 1 billion people. The communique says China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development at present and for the foreseeable future, but there are new developments in both opportunities and challenges. In 2021, China will enter a new development stage and embark a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects. This will be a milestone in the history of China’s development.
As further stated in the communiqué, for the 14th Five-Year Plan period, China will speed up fostering a new development pattern where domestic and foreign markets can boost each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay. China will strive to make new strides in economic development during the period. It aims to realize sustained and healthy economic development on the basis of a marked improvement in quality and efficiency. With new steps to be taken in reform and opening up, China will further improve its socialist market economy and basically complete the building of a high-standard market system. China’s social etiquette and civility shall be further enhanced, while the core socialist values shall be embraced by the people. The country aims to make new progress in building an ecological civilization, boost the well-being of people, and enhance governance capacity. The document also outlines the long-term vision of basically realizing socialist modernization by 2035.
- President Xi Jinping attended an array of international events in the past week that virtually gathered leaders of the world’s major economies, and has demonstrated China’s firm commitment to helping the world defeat COVID-19, building an open world economy, and advocating multilateralism. His pledges and proposals, ranging from vowing to actively consider providing vaccines to others and further cutting tariffs to honoring China’s carbon neutrality commitment, won broad recognition at the meetings of BRICS, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Group of 20.
President Xi reiterated China’s promise to make its COVID-19 vaccines a “global public good”, and said China stands ready to step up cooperation with other countries on research and development, production and distribution of vaccines for COVID-19.
President Xi has championed building an open world economy and facilitating free trade. This followed the signing of the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), by 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
President Xi used these diplomatic occasions to take swipes at the rising protectionism, unilateralism and attempts at “de-globalization” or “economic decoupling.” President Xi urged the G20 members and BRICS countries to safeguard the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, calling the United Nations “the core institution for addressing international affairs through cooperation.”
As Presient Xi said China remains convinced that the theme of our times — peace and development — has not changed, and that the trend toward multipolarity and economic globalization cannot be turned around.
- 2020 is no doubt an extraordinary year in human history. Confronted with COVID-19, China and Africa have offered mutual support and fought hand in hand with each other. China will always remember the invaluable support African countries including Liberia gave us at the height of our battle with the coronavirus. In return, when Africa was struck by the virus, China was the first to rush in with assistance and has stood side by side with the African people. At the opening ceremony of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, President XI announced a series of measures to support Africa to fight the pandemic including providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China, providing vaccines to Africa with priority and relieving the debt pressure of African countries.
China and Liberia have the tradition of looking out for one another by standing shoulder to shoulder. When China was hit by COVID-19, President George Weah sent a personal letter to President Xi Jinping, expressing his firm support for China’s fight against COVID-19. China was the first to help and support the Ebola-infected West African countries including Liberia. To date, the Chinese government has dispatched 13 medical teams totaling 132 doctors to provide Liberian people with free medical service.
We live in a new, momentous era. We are standing at the threshold of a new chapter to be added to history. No matter how the world may change and no matter what challenges may come up ahead, cooperation between China and Africa will never stop, and the efforts to build a better and stronger FOCAC will never stop. The next FOCAC meeting is scheduled to be held next year in Senegal. China is ready to work with Africa to make good preparations on the arrangements and deliverables of the meeting. Let us join our efforts to stand up to challenges, strive for high quality in our cooperation and open up a far brighter future for China-Africa relations.
Thank you! And I will be more than delighted to take your questions later on.