China-Africa cooperation should be carried out under ‘dual circulation’

By Wei Jianguo Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/19 22:30:09

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

This year marks the 20 year anniversary of the founding of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Since the first forum was held in 2000, I had the opportunity to participate in the relevant work of several events. I witnessed the forum grow and gain the world's attention.

I can still clearly picture the grand occasion of the Beijing Summit of FOCAC in September 2018. Heads of governments and the mission of plenipotentiaries from 53 African countries gathered in the Great Hall of the People.

Familiar with the course of the China-Africa cooperation, I know it's the dedication of generations of volunteers and medical, trade and foreign affairs personnel who work in Africa that has created the miracles of FOCAC in past two decades.

First is the miracle of speed. When the forum was founded in 2000, the yearly trade volume between China and Africa only reached $10.6 billion. As of 2019, the figure has reached $208.7 billion, increasing 20 times. China's non-direct investments in Africa reached $49.1 billion in 2019, up 100 times from 2000.

China has built more than 6,000 kilometers of railways and roads in Africa, nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large-scale power facilities, 45 gymnasiums, more than 130 hospitals and medical centers, and more than 170 schools, which have brought significant progress to Africa's economic and social development.

Second is the miracle of market. China's assistance and investments in Africa were both carried out in accordance with the market rules. Always standing on an equal footing, China respects African countries' own decision-making rights, and lets African economies go into global markets through the China market.

Thus far, the number of Chinese companies operating in Africa has exceeded 3,700. China has started duty-free treatment for some products from least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa. Over 5,000 items of products have enjoyed the preferential policies now. China-Africa trade is likely to exceed China-US trade in the future.

Third is the miracle of model. The reason China-Africa cooperation has made such rapid progress is because of the unique cooperation model both sides established. In cooperation with African countries, China has stuck to the principles of: not interfering with African countries in exploring development paths that suit their national conditions, not interfering in African countries' internal affairs, not attaching any political conditions to aid Africa, and not seeking private political gains in investment and financing in Africa.

Currently, the uncertainties in international situation are increasing. The world is experiencing once-a-century big shift, but peace and development still remain the theme of the era. China is the largest developing country in the world and Africa is the continent with the most developing countries in the world. World peace and development can't be separated from the peaceful development of China and Africa.

The further deepening of China-Africa cooperation in the future will create positive forces for building a community with a shared future for mankind, and will also help the recovery and development of the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, China-Africa cooperation should continue to focus on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 44 African countries. Despite the impacts of COVID-19, many projects are still progressing as planned, which have significance for poverty alleviation in African countries.

Second, cooperation on the fight against COVID-19 should be further strengthened. As the virus is still raging across the world, China should join hands with African countries to strengthen information, personnel and technology exchange. In June, a China-Africa summit calling for solidarity to defeat COVID-19 was held. China also committed to make its vaccine available to African countries when it has finished R&D and is put into use.

Last but not the least, China-Africa cooperation also should be carried out under the big picture of "dual circulation." China and Africa should further strengthen mutually beneficial economic cooperation and focus on implementing cooperation plans in the fields of industry, agriculture, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction, public health, peace and security. China and Africa should make the FOCAC a banner of China-Africa cooperation and a model for South-South cooperation.

The author is a former Chinese vice minister of commerce.


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