Remarks by H.E. Li Keqiang
Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
At the First Forum on China-Africa Local Government Cooperation
27 August 2012
Your Excellency Edward Ssekandi, Vice President of Uganda,
Your Excellency Terence Sinunguruza, First Vice President of Burundi,
Ladies and Gentlement,
I am delighted to join you at the First Forum on China-Africa Local Government Cooperation to discuss the development of China-Africa cooperation. Africa is a continent of unique charm and vitality. A fast-growing Africa and China have much to do together. Deepening China-Africa cooperation is not only in the interest of development of the two sides, but also conducive to boosting cooperation between developing countries. This forum will give a strong push to the all-round and in-depth development of China-Africa relations. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I would like to extend warm congratulations on the opening of the forum and sincere welcome to all the participants who have come a long distance to be here.
There is a time-honored friendship between the Chinese people and people of Africa. In the course of seeking national liberation and development, China and Africa stood side by side and forged a profound friendship. Entering the new century, China-Africa relations have yielded fruitful results with the establishment of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. Now, China is Africa's largest trading partner. Our two-way trade in 2011 was 16 times that of 2000. China's accumulative investment in Africa has exceeded US$15 billion. China-Africa cooperation projects can be found in 50 African countries. China's aid for Africa totaled over 110 billion yuan. These all testify to the ever closer exchanges and cooperation and ever stronger traditional friendship between China and Africa.
Cooperation between China and Africa is cooperation between developing countries. As the world's largest developing country and the world's largest group of developing countries, China and Africa have much in common in terms of stage of development. According to the latest survey by the World Bank, 24 African countries are lower middle income or upper middle income countries, and 29 are low income countries. China also faces the challenge of uneven regional development. China-Africa cooperation is conducted as the two sides face similar circumstances and common mission of development, and therefore is highly constructive and promising. Such cooperation is an effective means for China and Africa to grow their economies and achieve common development. Such cooperation can encourage the international community to pay more attention to Africa and developing countries and help achieve common development and enduring prosperity of the world.
China-Africa cooperation is cooperation based on mutual respect and equality. There are more than 50 countries, 1,500 ethnic groups and 2,000 dialects in Africa. The diverse ethnic groups, religions and different economic and social systems have together shaped a colorful Africa. This shows the pluralism of the world and the diversity of civilizations. China believes that all countries, big or small, are equal members of the international community. In the conduct of external cooperation, one should respect the effort of other countries in finding development paths suited to their own national conditions and stay out of the internal affairs of others. China attaches no political strings to its aid for Africa. Guided by an open and inclusive approach, we will work with other countries and international organizations to help promote African development and uphold peace and stability in Africa.
China-Africa cooperation is cooperation that brings opportunities and benefits to both sides. Together we account for 1/3 of the world's population. We both enjoy fast economic growth in recent years. Chinese and African economies each have distinctive features and advantages. China enjoys mature and applicable technologies and equipment, and abundant financial resources while Africa boasts a big market, low labor cost and rich resources. We have harnessed our respective strengths and drawn on each other's advantages in our cooperation with a view to achieving common development. Such cooperation has provided opportunities for both sides, expanded our converging interests, and produced win-win results. Such cooperation between brotherly partners has brought benefits to both Chinese people and African people, contributed to world peace and development, and will therefore last.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our world is undergoing profound adjustments and changes. The international financial crisis persists. Destabilizing factors and uncertainties in the international environment are on the rise. Global economic growth is sluggish and may remain so for a long time. This is becoming the most pressing problem facing the international community. At the same time, poverty, diseases, conflicts and natural disasters, among others, pose severe challenges to all countries, especially developing countries. On the other hand, economic globalization continues to deepen despite difficulties. A new round of technology revolution is in the making. And developing countries as a whole enjoy rising strength and standing in the international arena. Under these new circumstances, China-Africa cooperation faces both a highly complex situation and development opportunities.
In terms of development potential, China is pursuing industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization in a balanced manner. This will unleash huge development potential. Africa enjoys bright prospects of economic growth and tremendous development opportunities. The continued growth of our economies will make closer cooperation all the more important for the two sides.
In terms of structural adjustment, China and Africa are at different levels of industrial development, and we are both active players in global division of labor. We have a lot to offer each other in the process of industrial relocation.
In terms of opening-up, China is implementing the "going global" strategy, while African countries are scaling up import of capital and technical know-how. Our mutual need is growing and our strong momentum of development will open up broad dimensions of cooperation.
Moving forward, the two sides should seize opportunities, take a forward-looking and long-term perspective and deepen all-round cooperation with a constructive attitude. To bring the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership to a new high, we must embrace mutual trust, mutual benefit and mutual exchanges.
First, we should increase strategic mutual trust. This provides the strong safeguards for China-Africa friendship and cooperation. The two sides should bear in mind our common strategic interests and carry forward the traditional friendship. We should increase high-level visits, enhance sharing of governance experience and expand exchanges between political parties, legislative bodies and local governments to increase political mutual trust. China and Africa should join hands to uphold the interests of developing countries and strengthen coordination on reform of the international system and climate change.
Second, we should achieve mutual benefit in the economic field. This is the sustaining driver of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. The two sides should, while building on cooperation in traditional areas, explore new areas and new models of business cooperation. We should, while boosting cooperation in resources, pay more attention to cooperation and development in non-resource fields such as agriculture, manufacturing and SMEs. We should pay more attention to improving people's lives and protection of the environment. The two sides need to work together to fully implement the agreements reached at the fifth ministerial conference of FOCAC and related cooperation projects.
Third, we should promote people-to-people exchanges. This forms the social foundation for China-Africa friendship and cooperation. In recent years, people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa have been colorful and fruitful. Last year, over one million Chinese tourists went to Africa. Currently, there are more than 20,000 African students studying in China. China has trained more than 40,000 people of various professions for Africa. The two sides need to strengthen exchanges in education, health, culture and tourism, build closer ties between young people, women and civil organizations, and enhance interactions between the Chinese and African civilizations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It has been 30 years since China and Africa started local government cooperation, and it now has become an integral part of bilateral ties between China and African countries. There are over 110 pairs of sister cities between China and Africa, and cooperation has extended from personnel interflow and mutual visits in the early stage to economic, social and cultural areas. This has not only injected vitality into regional development and brought direct benefits to the Chinese and African peoples, but also put China-Africa friendship on a more solid footing by involving not just leaders of government agencies but also local communities and common people.
China will continue to strengthen local government cooperation with African countries to make our cooperation broader and deeper. In the next five years, we will work to double the number of China-Africa sister cities and train more professionals for Africa. We will promote the exchange of 1,000 local managerial staff, entrepreneurs and people from various sectors from each side to enhance mutual learning.
Both China and Africa are birthplaces of human civilizations, and we will forge ahead along the path of revival. We have reason to believe that people of China and Africa will stand closer together and usher in an even better future of our cooperation.
To conclude, I wish the First Forum on China-Africa Local Government Cooperation a complete success and I wish you all the best.