|China-Africa Relations Board The Ship Of A New Century|
---- Review of the sixth anniversary of China-Africa Cooperation Forum
I. Founding of China-Africa Cooperation Forum and Beijing Ministerial Conference in 2000.
Beginning from the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt in 1956, friendly China-African cooperation has seen steady development in the past 44 years. China and African countries have been expanding and deepening cooperation in the areas such as politics, economy, trade, culture and education and health, resulting in remarkable achievements.
Great and profound changes have taken place in the international situation since the end of the Cold War. As a result, developing countries are now facing challenges as well as opportunities. Taking into account the new international situation, China and African countries share the strong desire to further consultations and cooperation, and to jointly meet the challenges posed in the new century.
China is the biggest developing country, while Africa is the continent with the greater concentration of developing countries than any other continent. China-African friendly relations are deep-rooted, as they share similar historical experiences and are free from any historical conflicts.
Furthermore, China and African countries are both faced with the common task of development and share extensive common interests in international affairs. It is, therefore, in the interests of both China and African countries, and in conformity with the world trend towards peace and development, to establish even closer friendly cooperative relations.
In this new situation, some African countries have proposed to China that China and African countries should establish a new mechanism for collective dialogues and cooperation. The Chinese government has decided after deliberation to accept this proposal and put forward the initiative of hosting a China-Africa Cooperation Forum, so that China and African countries can exchange their views and coordinate their positions on major issues through this multilateral consultation mechanism.
The Forum has set course for the development orientation of China-Africa relations in the new century.
The founding of the forum is a requirement posed by the changes in the situation, as well as an inevitable result of the half-century-long development of China-Africa friendly cooperative relations.
In a sense, the founding of this forum is an important measure to promote South-South cooperation. Through this channel, China and African countries, a major component of developing countries, can seek common development and effectively address common challenges ahead.
In October 1999, then Chinese President Jiang Zemin sent letters to heads of state of all African countries that have diplomatic ties with China and Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), officially proposing convening Ministerial Conference Beijing 2000 of the FOCAC and spelling out the principles of "carrying out consultation on an equal footing, enhancing understanding, increasing consensus, promoting friendship and furthering cooperation."
Two topics for discussion were also introduced: "How to promote the building of a new international political and economic order so as to safeguard the common interests of developing countries in the 21st century" and "How to further China-Africa cooperation in trade and economy in the new situation."
The African leaders gave immediate responses to President Zemin's letters, voicing their support to the proposal and the will to send ministers to attend the proposed conference. In January 2000, then Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and then Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Shi Guangsheng jointly issued invitations to the foreign ministers and the ministers in charge of foreign trade and economic cooperation affairs of the African countries that have diplomatic ties with China and soon received positive feedbacks.
Thereafter, China began to make full preparations for the conference and both sides began to hold consultations on matters related to the conference as well.
It is for the very first time in China's diplomatic history to hold such a large-scale multilateral conference between China and Africa, and there were a host of new topics concerning preparations for the conference. The FOCAC Conference Preparatory Committee was set up in November 1999, with then Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and then Minister Shi Guangsheng serving as honorary chairmen, Vice Foreign Minister Ji Peiding and Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Sun Guangxiang as chairmen. With the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation as leading departments, leading officials of the other 18 central departments closely associated with China-Africa cooperation were also included in the committee.
The Secretariat of the Conference Preparatory Committee was established under the Department of African Affairs of Foreign Ministry, with seven functional teams respectively in charge of political affairs, trade and economy, conference affairs, protocol matters, information, logistics and security. Under the leadership of the Conference Preparatory Committee, the teams, in the innovative and pragmatic spirit, managed to put forward the plans for all preparations soon after they began to operate. They also worked out details for the plans and carried the plans out, laying a solid foundation for the successful convocation of the first Ministerial Conference of FOCAC.
In the course of preparing for the first Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, preparations for and discussions about the documents by both sides were regarded as essential.
China extensively solicited the opinions of African countries shortly after completing the draft of the documents. Chinese officials and African ambassadors in Beijing held 11 rounds of consultations. In order to get more advice and suggestions, Ji Peiding and Sun Guangxiang, chairmen of the Preparation Committee for the first ministerial conference of FOCAC, visited a number of African countries to discuss the documents and the arrangement for the conference.
It had two characteristics: first, participants in the conference were state leaders and high-ranking officials.
Then Chinese President Jiang Zemin, then Premier Zhu Rongji and then Vice President Hu Jintao, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of the Democratic People's Republic of Algeria, President Gnasinbe Eyadema of the Republic of Togo, President Frederic Chiluba of the Republic of Zambia, President Benjamin William Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania, Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity Salim Ahmed Salim attended the opening ceremony and delivered important speeches. Also attending were 80 ministers from 44 African countries with diplomatic relations with China, representatives of 17 regional and international organizations, executives from the business communities in China and Africa. The conference was attended by more than 500 people from African countries.
Second, the conference had rich contents. In order to deepen understanding and cooperation between Chinese and African enterprises and encourage Chinese enterprises to break into the African market, the leaders from 20 provinces and about 100 representatives of more than 50 Chinese enterprises were invited by the Organizing Committee to the meeting, where they also held in-depth discussions with African officials on how to expand in trade and economic cooperation. Four theme meetings, in the form of symposiums and with different subjects, were arranged on the sidelines of the forum, while the main conference was going on, so as to promote substantial cooperation between China and Africa.
The themes of the meetings were: 1. Cooperation in education, science and technology, and health ; 2. Exchange of experience in reforms carried out in China and African countries; 3. China-Africa investment and trade; 4. Eliminating poverty and achieving sustainable agricultural development. In addition, to enable African participants to gain a better understanding of China, the Guangdong Provincial government invited foreign delegates to visit Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Results achieved during the conference and its great impact found expression in the following five aspects::
First, two documents were released, namely, the Beijing Declaration of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and the Program for China-Africa Cooperation in Economic and Social Development. "The Declaration" reflects the consensus reached by China and Africa on major international and political issues, especially on establishing a new international political and economic order, and the common wish to further Sino-African friendly cooperative relations.
"The Program for China-Africa Cooperation" primarily specified the concrete plans and measures that would be taken in China-Africa economic cooperation. The two documents would serve as a guide for China and Africa to advance the development of cooperative relationships and step up cooperation at all levels and in all areas.
Third, both sides elaborated their propositions on establishing a new international political and economic order, thus expanding the impact of developing countries on this issue.
The two sides reiterated that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the principles and spirit in the OAU Charter and other universally recognized norms governing international relations should serve as the political basis for the new international order.
In establishing a new international order, it is imperative to ensure the right of all countries to enjoy sovereign equality and non-interference in their internal affairs, as well as the right of all nations and civilizations to seek common development.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the forum, then President Jiang Zemin proposed that in order to establish a just and rational international political and economic order, China and Africa should strengthen unity and energetically promote South-South cooperation; promote dialogues and improve North-South relations; take an active part in international affairs on the basis of equality; cater for the need of the future and establish a new long-term, stable, equal and mutually beneficial partnership.
The African side expressed its full agreement with Jiang's proposal.
Fourth, substantial measures had been taken in Sino-African cooperation, and a substantial blueprint had been drawn up for cooperation in all areas.
In this regard, the Chinese side announced for the first time the reduction or exemption of debts amounting to 10 billion yuan owed by the heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa.
Moreover, the Chinese side would set aside special funds to encourage Chinese enterprises to launch cooperation projects in Africa.
China also promised to establish the African Human Resources Development Fund to help African countries train professionals.
In his speech at the closing ceremony, then Premier Zhu Rongji made a five-point proposal for the creation of a situation in economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa, namely, continue to expand imports and exports; vigorously expand investment cooperation; improve the work to provide assistance for African countries; broaden cooperation in more areas; work together to help solve the African debt problem.
Fifth, the forum drew close attention of various departments, localities, business people and the general public in China to Africa and relations between China and Africa.
More Chinese changed their impression of Africa for the better or began to view Africa from a new perspective through the forum, especially the extensive coverage of the Forum by media, and the participation of top Chinese leaders, central and local government and enterprises.
The success of the forum was well received by various sectors.
For its part, African countries highly appreciated the significance of the conference. They shared the view that the establishment of the forum provided for both sides an opportunity to further a cooperative relationship between China and Africa, as well as a framework for exchanges and dialogues. Hence, the forum was of epoch-making significance and would serve as a new cornerstone for bilateral cooperation.
Participating ministers from African countries were satisfied with and praised the conference's organization work in their speeches or during bilateral meetings. They said that conference had four characteristics: warm reception, friendly atmosphere, high quality of documents and fruitful results. The African side called for operating the Forum as a mechanism. Ethiopia announced at the conference that it hoped that the next forum would be held in Addis Ababa. The international community paid close attention to the forum. All major media organizations sent correspondents to Beijing to cover the conference, giving detailed and timely reports on the conference.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is considered a great move with which both sides, within the scope of South-South cooperation in the new situation, will try to cater for the future, enhance cooperation and seek common development. In his speech at the opening ceremony, then Chinese President Jiang Zemin described the forum as a "creation in the history of the China-African relationship."
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Ministerial Conference 2000 was considered the prelude to the mechanism of future forums and demonstrated that the China-African Cooperation Forum, a vessel bearing the China-African relationship in the new century, had started to sail in the pre-set direction.
II. Follow-up actions and Efforts to Improve Forum Mechanism
Over the three years after the holding of the 2000 Ministerial Conference, great progress has been made in follow-up actions thanks to the joint efforts of China and African countries.
---- There have been frequent bilateral exchanges of senior officials and various types of professionals at different levels, and the political consultation mechanism has become increasingly diverse. Chinese leaders have paid 20 visits to Africa, and more than 30 African leaders visited China. The political consultation mechanism between Chinese and African foreign ministries, and the bilateral mechanisms for the mixed economic and trade committees and the joint science and technology committees have been operating well, thereby playing an active role in furthering dialogues and coordination between China and African countries.
----Cooperation has been expanding steadily in the areas such as medical care, health, finance, tourism, culture, science and technology, and environmental protection.
Meanwhile, efforts have been made to improve the FOCAC's mechanism, providing a system guarantee for the sound development of the forum.
At the Beijing Ministerial Conference in 2000, China and Africa reached a consensus regarding the continuation and development of the forum. After the conference, construction of the forum's mechanism was included in the agenda of both sides.
The Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC was established, composed of 21 ministerial units, on the basis of the former Preparing Committee. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation served as honorary co-chairmen of the committee, and senior leaders of the two ministries as co-chairmen.
The committee undertakes to coordinate follow-up actions of all departments. The Secretariat of the Committee is made up of officials from the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Trade an Economics and Finance Ministry, with the director of the department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs serving as the secretary-general.
The Office of the Secretariat is in the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and handles routine affairs. Follow-up ministerial committees were established in Ethiopia, Zambia, Sudan and some other African countries.
In July 2001, China and African countries held a ministerial consultation meeting in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, with two major results. One was the decision to hold the second ministerial conference of FOCAC in Ethiopia at the end of 2003. The other was that the meeting adopted in principal the "Procedures of the Follow-Up Mechanism of the FOCAC," establishing a concrete mechanism framework for the future development of the Forum.
With the approval by all countries, the "Procedures of the Follow-Up Mechanism of the FOCAC" officially took effect in April 2002. The procedures state that the ministerial meeting of the Forum will be held every three years in China and an African country by turns, and a senior officials meet will be held twice, one year before and several days before the ministerial meeting. In addition, ambassadors of African countries in China will hold regular consultations with the Chinese Secretariat of the Follow-Up Committee of FOCAC. The Lusaka Conference was of a far-reaching significance to the development of the forum, and marked the start of operation of the FOCAC Mechanism.
III. Second Ministerial Conference of China-Africa Cooperation Forum
From December 15 to 16, 2003, the Second Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum was convened in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. It is the first time that the ministerial conference of the Forum was held in an African country. Through bilateral communication and coordination the theme of the conference was set as solidifying and developing China-Africa friendship, and promoting and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. The purpose of the conference was set as carrying out practical cooperation and taking specific actions.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and 13 African leaders including Ethiopian President Girma Wolde Giorgis attended the opening ceremony of the conference. Also present at the conference were more than 70 ministers in charge of foreign affairs and international trade and economic cooperation from China and 44 African countries, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, a representative of the UN secretary-general, and several representatives of international and African regional organizations. Malawi Swaziland, which did not have diplomatic relations with China, also sent representatives to the meeting as observers.
Leaders from China and African countries and ministers reviewed the follow-up actions taken after the first ministerial conference in Beijing, primarily discussed new measures to deepen cooperation in political affairs, and economic and social development, and reached an extensive consensus. The conference issued the Addis Ababa Action Plan (2004-06), mapping out the overall plan for China-Africa cooperation over the future three years.
Among the newly elected Chinese leaders, Premier Wen Jiabao was the first to visit Africa, reflecting the consistent policy of the Chinese government on attaching great importance to Africa. Addressing the opening ceremony of the conference, Premier Wen put forward a four-point proposal on promoting China-Africa relationships in the new situation:
1. Supporting each other, promoting further development of traditional China-Africa friendship, further increasing high-level exchanges, deepening mutual political trust, and solidifying the cooperative basis;
2. Increasing consultation, advancing the democratization of international relations, and advocating the exchange and drawing on between different cultures and different development modes all over the world.
3. Coordinating positions to jointly meet the challenge posed by the globalization, urging the international community to help developing African countries to improve their self-development capability, promoting South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, and safeguarding the rights and interests of developing countries.
4. Deepening cooperation, and creating a new situation in China-African relations.
On behalf of the Chinese government, Premier Wen also announced the following: that China would open it market, and provide tariff-exemption treatment to some goods exported to China by the least developed countries in Africa; that China would further its cooperation with African countries in human resources development, would substantially increase spending on training for the Africans and try to train some 10,000 professionals of all types for African countries within three years; that China would encourage domestic to cooperate with their African counterparts based on mutual benefit, and would support domestic enterprises in investing in Africa; that China would expand tourism cooperation, and grant destination status for self-funded Chinese tourists to Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Tunis, and Zambia; and that China would increase cultural and non-governmental exchanges, and host the China-Africa Youth Festival, "Meet in Beijing" International Arts Festival, and "Chinese Culture Tour in Africa" in 2004.
The African countries responded warmly to Premier Wen's speech, highly China for its sincere friendship, and equal cooperation with Africa. They fully affirmed the mechanism of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, praising the forum as an effective framework for China and Africa to further consultations and cooperation.
They agreed that the forum had played a key role in helping China and African countries achieve development and stability, and establishing a new and more rational international order. In that sense, it could be referred to as a new starting point for solidarity for and cooperation between Asia and Africa. Hence, it could be called the "Bandung Conference" in new situation.
Leaders of African countries stressed that the Forum could help both sides strive for a more favorable environment for development through close cooperation, since China and Africa were in a vital historical phase of respective development. In his congratulatory message, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the forum as a model for South-South cooperation, explicitly indicating that Sino-African relations were still full of vigor.
Thanks to the close cooperation between the two sides, the second Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC, the first FOCAC conference held in an African country, proved to be tremendous success in the following aspects:
In the first place, with great attention of both sides, the conference was attended by high-ranking officials and had an extensive impact. It fully met the needs of both sides by furthering mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, such as economy and trade, and coordinating positions in international affairs within the FOCAC framework. The forum turned out to be another successful example in South-South cooperation, and injected a new impetus to such cooperation.
Secondly, substantial results were achieved in quest of pragmatic cooperation. The Action Plan adopted by the conference emphasized pragmatic actions. During the conference, China introduced a series of new concrete cooperation measures, with the aim of helping African countries achieve development and overcome practical difficulties. This provided a powerful driving force behind the growth of friendly China-African cooperation.
Thirdly, the conference attained the goal of "taking the Forum as a platform to enable enterprises to play a key role." The conference maintained that cooperation between China and African countries should not be restricted to the tier of the governments only. Instead, it was necessary to bright into full play the initiative of Chinese and African enterprises and make them a new vital force in cooperation between the two sides.
In support of the conference, the first China-Africa Business Conference was held before the conference. Nearly 500 Chinese and African entrepreneurs attended the conference. Contracts were signed for 16 cooperation projects, and letters of intention for cooperation in 15 projects were also signed, to the tune of 500 million U.S. dollars. The Business Conference created a successful precedent for contacts and exchanges between Chinese and African entrepreneurs. As a result, both sides decided to list the Business Conference as a major component of the FOCAC and to hold it simultaneously with the ministerial conference in the future.
The second Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC was a meeting to link the past to the present. Its success proved that China and African countries shared not only a profound traditional friendship and solid foundation for cooperation, but also a strong desire to seek common development. The two sides enjoyed a vast prospect for cooperation.
IV. Follow-up Actions of Second Ministerial Conference
All follow-up actions have been taken successfully since the end of the Second Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC, thanks to the concerted efforts of China and African countries.
1. Mutual trust and cooperation in political arena have been furthered.
Exchanges between high-level officials have risen to a new height. Since early 2004, 19 presidents, eight prime ministers, three vice presidents and 21 foreign ministers from African countries have visited China. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visited six African countries earlier this year. For 16 straight years Chinese foreign ministers chose Africa as their first overseas visit destination. President Hu Jintao visited Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya in April; Premier Wen Jiabao visited Egypt, Ghana, the Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda in mid-June. These concentrated high-level visits have fully demonstrated that leaders of both sides pay close attention to inheriting and carrying forward the traditional China-Africa friendship.
The Chinese Government has always given top priority to the development of friendly China-African relations in its relations with other countries. In January this year, the Chinese Government issued an official paper titled "China's African Policy." In the document, it expressed the intention to form and develop a new type of strategic partnership with Africa, which would feature equality and mutual trust politically, win-win and cooperation economically and exchanges and drawing on each other culturally. It is for the first time that the Chinese Government issued a policy paper governing a continent. This showed China's sincere wish and firm resolve in the new situation to expand and deepen China-Africa cooperation in all areas, so as to elevate such cooperation to an even higher level.
China and African countries have continued to maintain close consultations and cooperation in international affairs. In multilateral arenas such as the United Nations, China has supported, as always, Africa's reasonable propositions and paid close attention to its concerns. It has never been hesitant to speak out for Africa on issues relevant to its legitimate rights and interests. It sent a 435-member peacekeeping troop to a UN peacekeeping mission in the Sudan in late May. To date, it has joined seven UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, with 1,295 Chinese soldiers working as peacekeepers in Africa.
The furthering of political exchanges and cooperation between China and Africa has laid a solid political foundation for the development of the China-Africa Forum and the smooth implementation of the follow-up actions.
2. China-African economic and trade cooperation continues to maintain robust growth
In 2005, China-African trade hit a record of 39.74 billion U.S. dollars, 34.9 percent higher than in the previous year. China's trade deficit was 2.4 billon dollars. China has attached great importance to the problem of the trade deficit of some African countries with China and has taken measures to encourage imports from Africa.
In line with its commitment, China has exempted tariffs on 190 imported items from the least developed African countries. Now 28 African countries enjoy this preferential treatment. Customs statistics show that the value of goods imported from Africa entitled to this preferential treatment reached 380 million dollars in 2005, a year-on-year increase of 87.8 percent, 53 percentage points higher than the growth of China's imports from Africa during the same period. This indicates that China's preferential policy has benefited African countries.
Progress has been made in China's investment in Africa. Preliminary statistics show that by the end of 2005, China's accumulative direct investment in Africa had reached 1.18 billion dollars and China had set up 800 enterprises in Africa. Its investment projects cover 49 African countries and involve a host of areas such as trade, production and processing, resource development, transportation, telecommunications and agriculture.
In addition, China continues to provide assistance for African countries to the best of its financial capability and has undertaken infrastructure projects such as road and hospital construction, urban water supply and housing construction, in a bid to help African countries achieve economic and social development.
Since 2005, the Chinese Government has also provided emergency humanitarian aid, medicines and grain to African countries hit by drought, epidemic diseases and insect plagues.
3. Progress has been made in China-Africa cooperation in social development.
Ever since the second ministerial conference, China has trained about 7,600 African professionals of various types. The trainees included government officials and technical personnel. Training involved such contents as administration, economic management, medical care and health, network communications, agricultural techniques, consulate protection, and education and environmental protection.
In 2006, China plans to train about 3,000 African professionals in different areas. As the matter stands now, China will over-fulfill the promise of Premier Wen to train 10,000 African personnel within three years.
Sino-African cooperation in education has been furthered. The China-Africa Ministers of Education Forum was held in Beijing on Nov. 27, 2005, with ministers of education from 17 African countries present. The ministers held dialogues on the topic of "China-Africa strategy on the development of education and international exchanges and cooperation."
The Chinese side pledged to double in the next five years the number of African students who receive scholarships from the Chinese Government; to train 1,000 African educational officials and teachers per year from 2006 to 2008; and to promote academic exchanges and teaching of the Chinese language in Africa. These are successful practices pursued by China and Africa on multilateral educational cooperation, within the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.
In the second half of 2005, Namibia, Botswana, Madagascar and Lesotho have become destination countries for Chinese citizens and tourist groups. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declared that Ghana has become a destination country for Chinese citizens and tourist groups during his visit to Africa in June this year. So far, 17 African countries have become destinations for Chinese citizens and tourist groups. The cooperation in tourism between China and Africa not only benefits the development of the industry for both sides, but also enhances friendship and mutual understanding.
China and Africa continue to carry out rich and diverse exchanges and cooperation in the field of culture. In 2004, an international cultural festival titled "Let's Meet in Beijing" was held in Beijing with Africa serving as the host continent. Nine troupes of African artists from and government representatives from eight African countries took part in the event. They also held in Beijing an exhibition of art focusing on Africa. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended the closing ceremony of the exhibition and spoke highly of it.
A series of cultural events showcasing modern China were held in 16 African countries in July 2004. Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili attended the opening ceremony held in South Africa. Cultural troupes of acrobatics, martial art and Chinese song and dance staged performances in 11 African countries. A Chinese culture festival was held in South Africa, Cameroon and Ghana. Bilateral exchanges are brisk in literature, movies, archaeology and museums.
The first group of 12 young Chinese volunteers arrived in Ethiopia in August 2005, where they offered local residents services for half a year. This new move turned out to be successful. The Ethiopian Government fully affirmed the performance of these young people. So, a good beginning was made in young volunteers working in Africa. The second China-Africa Youth Festival was held in China in August 2006. All these events including young volunteers and youth festival are expected to increase exchanges between African and Chinese youths in the future.
In the multilateral arena, success has been scored in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). China attaches importance to and supports NEPAD. it has cooperated with African countries within the framework of the forum through bilateral channels in education, agriculture, human resource development, infrastructure construction, and prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and other priority areas set by NEPAD. As a result, cooperation has turned out to be successful.
Chinese Premier Jiaobao met the chief executive of NEPAD during his visit to South Africa in June 2006. He announced that the Chinese Government would aid NEPAD's nurses and midwives training programs in Tanzania and Kenya.
When a NEPAD secretariat delegation visited China In July 2006, the secretariat of the China's Follow-up Committee of FOCAC signed with NEPAD the "Memorandum on enhancing consultations and cooperation between the secretariat of China's Follow-up Committee of FOCAC and secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)", laying a solid foundation for the furthering of bilateral cooperation.
V. Preparations for China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit and third Ministerial Meeting
According to the follow-up mechanism procedures of the Forum, the fourth meeting of senior officials of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum was held in Beijing in August 2005. A midterm assessment of the follow-up activities of the second ministerial meeting of the forum was carried out at the meeting, while a symposium was held on expanding China's investment in Africa.
In accordance with the wish of African countries, the Chinese side proposed at the meeting holding the "China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit and the third Ministerial Meeting" in Beijing in the autumn of 2006. The proposal was well received and given great support by African countries.
In February 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao personally wrote a letter to the leaders of the 47 African countries having diplomatic relations with China, inviting them to attend the Forum Beijing Summit. Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai wrote a joint letter to the foreign ministers and ministers of various African countries in charge of economic and trade cooperation to invite them to attend the third ministerial meeting before the summit.
President Jintao's invitation received positive response from the African side, with an overwhelming majority of the member states of the Forum promising to attend the summit at their highest level.
The China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit will be a great event in the history of China-Africa relations. At the summit Chinese and African leaders will have an opportunity to jointly review the history of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, and discuss how to establish and develop in the new situation a new strategic Sino-African partnership featuring equality and mutual benefit politically, win-win and cooperation economically and exchanges and drawing on by each other culturally, in order to jointly map out a blueprint for the future development of China-Africa relations, and draw up a specific plan for such cooperation in the economic and trade areas in next three years.
Preparations for the summit are now proceeding at a fast pace. Both China and Africa have attached great importance to the summit, and have maintained close contacts on such the preparations.
We believe that thanks to the concerted efforts of and cooperation between both sides, the Beijing summit will certainly become a grand and pragmatic event; and that the China-Africa Cooperation Forum -- a great ship carrying China-Africa relations in the new century -- will surely sail toward a bright future of China-Africa friendship!