Your Excellencies, Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the occasion of the opening of the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation", as one of the Honorary Chairmen of the Forum, I would like, on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the Forum and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, to extend warm welcome to the African friends coming from afar and to express best regards and wishes to people from all walks of life who have made unremitting efforts to develop China-Africa friendship and Promote China-Africa trade and economic cooperation.
Two verses from a classical Chinese poem go that "friendship defies distance. Thousands of miles apart as friends are, still neighbors in each other's heart". Although geographically China and Africa are far from each other, the friendship and cooperation between the two sides have always been long lasting in the long history. China has shared with many African countries similar historical experiences. Both sides have always shown sympathy to and supported each other and built up a deep friendship in the battles for state independence and national liberation. Today, China and African countries are facing the common task if safeguarding peace and developing economy again. Sharing identical or similar opinions on many major international affairs as well as common interests, China and African countries have carried out sincere, equal, mutually beneficial and rewarding cooperation in various trade and economic areas and written a new chapter of China-Africa friendship.
At the crucial moment when the mankind is entering the 21st century, experiencing a very wide-spread and deep changes, the world is now characterized with accelerated economic globalization. We believe that economic globalization has reflected the inherent requisition of the development of productive forces and has been the inevitable outcome of world economic development and scientific and technological progress. Generally speaking, economic globalization promotes the free flow and optimized allocation of essential factors of production in the worldwide and benefits international communication and exchanges as well as the world prosperity and development. However, when the new international economic order has not been established and countries differ considerably in economic development, the benefits of economic globalization are not enjoyed in a balanced way. As the dominator, developed countries are benefiting most from economic globalization; but the large number of developing countries are facing more risks and challenges, and some countries are even endangered by marginalization. It has become the common task for all countries to pursue advantages and avoid disadvantages and realize a common development. In order to reach this goal, we must complete two arduous works. On the one hand, international community should make positive efforts and give more considerations to the will and demands of developing countries so as to promote the establishment of a fair and rational new international economic order. On the other hand, developing countries should build up a sense of self-protection, learn to make correct assessment of situation; they should prevent and convert risks, revitalize and develop national economy and safeguard economic security by formulating economic policies which conform to their national situations. Facing the new century, China is willing to work with African countries to expand common views, deepen cooperation and speed up development so as to continuously sharpen the competitive edges and have the initiative in competition.
China-Africa cooperation is an important part of South-South cooperation. South-South cooperation is an important channel for developing countries to work in unity, improve themselves in a cooperative way and seek common development. Against the backdrop of current international political and economic situations, it has become essential and urgent to intensify South-South cooperation. Only by uniting themselves can developing countries enhance cooperation in all areas, raise up their status in South-North dialogue, effectively participate in the formulation of international rules and better protect their own interests. Under the circumstances of economic cooperation, further intensification of South-South cooperation enjoys spacious room for development. Developing countries can only fully tap the enormous potential of South-South cooperation and promote economic growth and social progress by seizing opportunities, fully playing their own advantages and strong points and expanding cooperation in new areas such as finance, science and technology, education, and new and high technology while continuing cooperation in traditional areas such as trade, investment, economy and technology, can. South-South cooperation need the support of government and the participation of enterprises. It could not be possible to continuously deepen and develop the South-South development without policy support of governments of developing countries, without their preferential treatment and help for enterprises participating in South-South cooperation, without their encouragement for and guidance on projects of South-South cooperation, Being open, South-South cooperation should attract developed countries and multilateral international organization and carry out active regional and sub-regional economic cooperation. The Chinese government will, under the banner of South-South Cooperation, intensify its cooperation with African countries in all areas, explore new areas and new ways for cooperation, expand the depth and magnitude of cooperation, and put new vigor and vitality in the development of South-South cooperation.
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Economic cooperation and trade is an important part of China-Africa relations, as well as important content of South-South cooperation. It is in the common interests of both sides to intensify China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. The Past 50years since the birth of the People's Republic has seen a year-by-year growth of the two -way trade. According to the statistics of China's customs, in 1999the total import and export trade volume amounted to USD6.484 billion, up by 17.2% from the previous year. In a breakdown, China's export to Africa reached 4.109 billion US dollar, increasing by 1.3% as compared to the same period of the previous year; and its import from Africa stood at 2.375 billion US dollar, up 60.9% from the previous year. Between January and August of this year, China-Africa trade continued to rise rapidly and totaled 6.72 billion US dollar, a growth of 67.2% as opposed to the corresponding period of last year. To be more specific, China registered export to Africa amounting to 3.23 billion which was an increment of 27.6% and witnessed import from the region worth 3.49 billion, a surge of 134.6%. All in all, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation maintained sound momentum of development as the growth of China's import from Africa has outpaced that of its export. The trade imbalance situation is gradually being alleviated.
Alongside the swift development of trade, significant progress has also been made in other areas of economic and trade collaboration between China and Africa. The Chinese government has signed intergovernmental trade agreements with the majority of African governments, established bilateral regular mixed commissions on economic, trade and technical cooperation and set up mechanisms for multilateral and bilateral consultation. In terms of project-contracting, China and Africa have maintained cooperation of considerable scale. In 1999, the turnover in this aspect reached 2.036 billion US dollar. For long, the Chinese government has rendered assistance of various kinds to African countries, leading to 640 completed projects. Besides, Chinese companies are investing in more and more projects in Africa and expanding the scale of investment. According to incomplete statistics, by the end of June 2000, Chinese companies have established nearly 480 companies in 47 African countries with a total contractual investment of 820 million US dollar in which Chinese capital was 530 million. Since 1995, China have subsequently set up 11Investment Development and Trade Promotion Centers in Africa, which have created favorable conditions and played a positive role in facilitating multilateral and bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
China-Africa economic and trade cooperation have indeed broad prospect in the future. In my view, we can step up efforts in the following 4 aspects:
1. To further promote trade, investment, economic and technical cooperation while enhancing
the scale and level of cooperation; 2.To strengthen communication and collaboration in information technology and electronic commerce. We should made continuous efforts to explore new ways and spheres of economic and trade cooperation. 3. To intensify dialogue and consultation mechanism between Chinese and African governments so as to address problems occurred during cooperation, enhance communication, draw upon each other's experiences and make common progress. 4. To consolidate our coordination and cooperation in international and regional economic organizations and endeavor to achieve economic prosperity and development of China and Africa and safeguarding the interest of developing countries.
The world is rich in diversity and color. There are more than 50countries in Africa. No matter big or small, each country is an equal member of the world community and is entitled to choose a political mode, way of living and development path suited to its own national conditions. We hold that being oriented towards 21st century, China-Africa cooperation in economic, trade, and social development areas shall abide by the following four principles, namely Equality and mutual benefit, Adopting varied forms, Pursuing practical results and Seeking common development. It is my belief that these four principles shall improve the quality and level of cooperation between China and Africa and help Sino-African friendship scale new height.
In order to support the economic and social development of African countries, China hereby makes four commitments: 1.To continue providing assistance of various kinds within its capacity to African countries in accordance with their different economic situation. China will also gradually expand the scale of assistance as its economic development level rises and comprehensive national strength builds up. 2.Since China is willing to make contribution to alleviate the debt burden of African countries, it will reduce and exempt debt worth 10 billion RMB yuan owed by those heavily indebted poor countries and the least developed countries in Africa in the coming 2 years. 3. To provide special fund to competent Chinese companies with credit so as to support and encourage them to invest in Africa, Which shall facilitate the growth of local economy. 4. To set up Africa Human Resources Development Fund and expand the fund step by step in a bid to help African countries train professional talents.
Your Excellencies Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are very gratified to note that in recent years, African countries are meeting various challenges with collective strength in the spirit of self-esteem, self-improvement and self-support. Many African countries have yielded fruitful results in securing political stability and promoting economic development. They are speeding up regional cooperation among themselves and playing an increasingly important role in international affairs. We have always maintained that Africa is a positive factor in promoting world peace and development and an important force that should in no way be neglected on the international stage. As both China and Africa are developing countries, amidst the winds of change, China will, as always, value and strengthen the solidarity and cooperation with African countries. China will also unswervingly side with African countries and peoples to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the vast number of developing countries and push for the establishment of an equitable and rational new international political and economic order. Here, let me take this opportunity to express my heart-felt thanks to African countries for your support for China's accession to WTO. China's accession to WTO will be beneficial not only to China and world economic and trade development, but also to the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa. It is our hope that African countries will continue to render us your precious support so that China's accession to WTO will be realized at an early date.
The humankind is entering the 21st century. The journey of a century starts from today. We have full confidence that China and Africa shall enjoy brilliant prospect. Let us join hands and endeavor to make new contributions to the common interests of the Chinese and African people and to the lofty undertaking of peace and development for the entire humankind!
Thank you for your attention!