Remarks by State Councilor Dai Bingguo At dinner Hosted by the Vice President of Zambia
Your Honor Vice President Kunda,
Over the past week, I have visited Ethiopia, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I arrived in Zambia yesterday evening. Please allow me to take up some of your time to make a few remarks.
This is my second visit to the beautiful and lovely Zambia. I am once again overwhelmed by the warm and friendly atmosphere unique to Africa. First, I wish to take this opportunity to express heartfelt thanks to Vice President Kunda and the Zambian government for your gracious hospitality and thoughtful arrangements. Let my say “MWACHOMA BWANJI!” to my Zambian brothers and sisters. I wish to particularly convey President Hu Jintao’s cordial greetings to His Excellency President Banda and the Zambian people.
Zambia is an important country with major influence on the African continent. It is China’s good friend, good brother and good partner in Africa. For years, the Zambian government and people have worked tirelessly to explore a development path suited to its national conditions. You have prevailed over various risks and challenges and maintained political stability, economic development and ethnic harmony. Since last year, in the face of the severe challenge of the international financial crisis, the Zambian people, under the leadership of President Banda and the Zambian government, have braved the difficulties head on and maintained steady and fast economic development. This has brought Zambia greater stability, prosperity and confidence, and gained the country respect from the whole of Africa and beyond. We wish Zambia an even brighter future, and we are confident that, with the joint efforts of both sides, the China-Zambia relationship will also have a better future.
The first decade of the 21st century is a decade of major changes in the world and tremendous progress by mankind. A profound and significant change is the rapid rise in the strength and influence of developing countries. I have visited nearly 20 African countries over the past few years, and I believe that this past decade is truly one of significant progress for Africa. In my eyes, Africa has become more “stable”. The tumults of wars have ended and a new era of peace and stability is dawning. Africa is getting “faster”. The African economy has maintained a growth rate of over 5% and the continent is beaming with vigor and vitality. Africa has grown “stronger”. Achieving strength through unity has become a common awareness and major progress has been made in the integration process. And Africa is becoming more “attractive”. The voice of Africa is getting louder on the international stage, and Africa’s standing and influence in the world are notably on the rise. One symbol of progress in African’s renaissance is the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa. As the theme song of the World Cup goes, this is the time for Africa. We feel truly happy for you, and we are convinced that the African countries and their people will run African affairs well. If the 20th century was a century of “national liberation” for Africa, then the 21st century will be one of “peaceful development” for you.
The past decade has also been one of significant growth of China-Africa relations. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a platform of far-reaching influence, was inaugurated and substantiated, and the FOCAC Beijing Summit was successfully held. China-Africa relations have made all-round and in-depth progress on the political, economic and cultural fronts. Our result-oriented cooperation has reached unprecedented breadth and depth and our two-way trade has surged from US$10 billion to a historic US$100 billion. People-to-people exchanges have become closer, and mutual understanding and friendship have deepened. All this is attributable to the hard work of the Chinese and African peoples over the generations. I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute and say a big “thank you” to all the friends present, and through you, to the forerunners who have dedicated themselves to the cause of China-Africa friendship.
However, when our relationship is moving forward and the African people rejoice at its progress, some in the world are suggesting that China is no longer a developing country, that China no longer needs Africa or thinks of Africa as important and that China will team with someone to jointly “manage” the world. Some have gone so sensational as to claim that China is repeating the western colonial path of exploiting Africa. Doesn’t it sound like a myth? I am sure you all know, my friends, that what they say is neither the truth nor anything possible. Then why do some say so? They make such allegations precisely because China-Africa cooperation has proved to be the right path to take. It is a path that has led us to great success and we should continue to follow this path.
As you probably know, China has achieved rapid economic and social progress in the past 30 years or more since reform and opening-up. Yet, our development achievements have had to be shared among the 1.3 billion Chinese people. Among them, nearly 140 million still live in poverty and over 80 million are with disabilities. China’s per capita GDP ranks 104th in the world, behind many countries in Africa. China remains a developing country in every sense of the term. Those who do not think so have in their eyes only big cites like Beijing, Shanghai, and not places in the remote, mountainous and poverty-stricken areas in China like Guizhou, my home province. What they do not realize is that China faces many difficulties. Even if China becomes strong in the future, it will remain a developing country and will continue to side firmly with our African brothers and other developing countries and work in cooperation and solidarity with you for common development. China’s heart will never change.
Solidarity and cooperation with African countries and other developing countries is always the very basis and point of departure of China’s foreign policy. This is determined by our similar historical experience, the friendship we forged during our common struggle, the common task of development we face and the strategic interests we share. This will not change with the development of China’s economy, or the changes in China’s international standing, or the changes of the international situation. For China, African countries were, are and will continue to be good friends, good partners and good brothers with whom our friendship is the most sincere and trustworthy. We know too well that China-Africa friendship was jointly developed by Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and the older generation of African statesmen. It is an invaluable political asset for both China and Africa and it gives us a unique strategic advantage. We have every reason to always cherish it, uphold it and let it grow even stronger.
There is no denying that there is still room for improvement in our efforts to grow relations with our African brothers. And we are open to any criticism and suggestion based on goodwill. But there are things we are certainly proud of. China’s cooperation with Africa is open and China pursues no hidden agenda. We have always given respect to the sovereignty and development paths of African countries and never interfered in your internal affairs. We have always followed the principle of equality and mutual benefit in conducting cooperation with Africa. We have always been offering sincere and friendly assistance to Africa and never attached any political conditions to such assistance. We have always taken the assistance and support between China and Africa as being mutual. To us, the development of China and the development of Africa are mutually reinforcing. We endeavor to promote African countries’ development with our own development and what we aim for is common prosperity. Africa is the African people’s Africa. We never seek to build a “sphere of influence” in Africa and have no intention to pursue unhealthy competition in Africa with other countries.
We hope to see all countries in the world treating Africa as equals and being a true help, contributing to Africa’s stability and prosperity. Neo-colonialism is never a tag to be put on China. Dear friends, no matter what others say, we will stay committed to the path to common development featuring mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. We will never follow the old path of western colonialism and imperialism, since we have no such policy or desire, nor is it ever in our tradition or gene to do so. What we cherish is a sincere heart of friendship with our African friends.
The cause of friendship and cooperation between China and Africa conforms to the trend toward a multi-polar world and economic globalization. It serves the fundamental interests of the Chinese and African peoples, who, together, make one third of the world’s population. Development is of overarching importance. We will join hands with our African friends to seize the opportunities, remove the obstructions, and work wholeheartedly for the sustainable development of China-Africa friendship and cooperation at a higher level and to achieve common prosperity in the 21st century.
I believe what underpins further progress in China-Africa cooperation is continued efforts to carry forward the traditional China-Africa friendship and stick to the principles of mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation. This is the very foundation for the China-Africa relationship to move from strength to strength.
The fundamental way to grow China-Africa cooperation is to expand and deepen win-win cooperation on an equal footing, with a view to realizing the great renaissance and development of Africa and China.
The most urgent task upon us is to improve people’s lives in Africa, enhance African’s ability to develop on its own and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The most enduring force driving China-Africa cooperation comes from closer people-to-people exchanges. We should learn from each other’s development experience, conduct human resources training and enhance mutual understanding and friendship among our younger generations.
The key principle guiding the further growth of China-Africa cooperation is to keep abreast with the times and work with a pioneering spirit and an innovative mind. We should carry forward useful experience and remedy shortcomings for continuous improvement. We should introduce new practices in line with actual circumstances and needs, and settle problems properly through friendly consultation.
Dear friends, I fell in love with Africa as early as in the 1960s when I was still a young man. The plays about Africa I watched back then are still vivid in my memory, such as the Battle Drum at the Equator, the Wrath of the Coconut Trees and the Storm of Africa. Now that I am back in Africa in the 21st century, wherever I go, I see tremendous efforts made to achieve development and I hear discussions about cooperation. The African people are great people and the African continent is a continent of great promises and prospects. I am full of confidence about the future of Africa and China-Africa relations. I firmly believe that the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership based on our strong traditional friendship and common interests will, like a giant ship, brave the storms and sail toward a better future, a future that benefits the people in China, in Africa and indeed the whole world.