China and Africa: New vision and opportunities |05 September 2023
By Mu Jianfeng, Chargé d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Seychelles
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Africa from August 21-24, 2023. The highlights of this important visit were the 15th BRICS Summit and China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue, both of which are of great significance to China and Africa relations.
BRICS as a platform of south-south cooperation
BRICS is an emerging-market group that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, representing approximately 40 percent of the global population, and accounting for about 25 percent of the global economy.
Since its inception, BRICS has been an essential driving force for global growth and the reform of international governance.
During the summit, President Xi emphasised the vital role of BRICS in global development, and China’s commitment to safeguard the fundamental interests and development space of emerging markets and developing countries.
The most salient outcome of the summit was the decision to invite Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to join BRICS as new members. The summit also welcomed other willing and eligible developing countries to become BRICS partners. The expansion was a milestone in the history of BRICS, showcasing the willingness and capability of the emerging market and developing countries to play an even more important role in world affairs. The enlarged BRICS will certainly help to promote multi-polarisation process and the democratisation of international relations, as well as making the global political and economic governance system more just and equitable.
During the summit, President Xi proposed several cooperation initiatives including the establishment of China-BRICS Science and Innovation Incubation Park for the New Era, BRICS Global Remote Sensing Satellite Data and Application Cooperation Platform, BRICS Framework on Industrial Cooperation for Sustainable Development. These concrete initiatives would bring new energy to BRICS practical cooperation in the near future.BRICS is not a closed club, but rather a big family of mutual support and win-win cooperation. With ‘BRICS Plus’ approach introduced in 2017 by China, many other countries had joined the BRICS activities over the past years, setting a prime example of South-South cooperation.
The building of China-Africa community with a shared future is gaining new momentum
In 2013, President Xi Jinping elaborated China’s policy towards Africa centering on the key principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith. The Chinese side was committed to these principles over the past decade. We pressed ahead on the path of solidarity and cooperation with African friends and partners. We stood for justice amid shifting global dynamics, and looked out for each other in face of the Covid-19 pandemic. China-Africa relations had been elevated to new heights with our common aspiration and endeavour to build a community with a shared future.
During the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue in Johannesburg, President Xi stressed that China is committed to walk side by side with Africa in advancing modernisation. With a view to further boosting practical cooperation and assist in Africa’s integration and modernisation, three proposals were announced:
First, the Chinese side will launch the Initiative on Supporting Africa’s Industrialisation. We will better harness resources to support Africa in growing its manufacturing sector and realising industrialisation and economic diversification. In implementing the nine programmes under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac), China will channel more resources of assistance, investment and financing toward programmes for industrialisation.
Second, the Chinese side will launch the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernisation. We will help Africa expand grain plantation, encourage Chinese companies to increase agricultural investment, enhance cooperation on seed and other areas of agro-technology, and support Africa in transforming and upgrading its agricultural sector.
We will host the Second Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture in Hainan Province of China in November 2023, and will provide additional emergency food assistance to some African countries in need.
Third, the Chinese side will launch the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development. China plans to train 500 principals and high-caliber teachers of vocational colleges every year, and 10,000 technical personnel for Africa. We will invite 20,000 government officials and technicians of African countries to participate in workshops and seminars. To support Africa in strengthening education and innovation, China will launch the China-Africa Universities 100 Cooperation Plan and 10 pilot exchange programmes of China-Africa partner institutes.
These initiatives were a vivid manifestation of China's practical support to Africa's modernisation and development. The Chinese side also explicitly expressed its support for the African Union's accession to the Group of 20. Meanwhile, it was also emphasised that China will continue its efforts to realise the synergy between Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of African countries, with a view to accelerating the implementation of Agenda 2063. The Chinese side will further strengthen the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac), and President Xi announced that China would host the Ninth Focac meeting in 2024.
The African side spoke highly of China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue co-hosted by China and South Africa, and thanked China for supporting African integration and assisting African countries in times of need. The African side warmly welcomed initiatives of cooperation, and expressed full support and readiness to build a strong synergy between the Agenda 2063, the national development strategies of African countries and the Belt and Road Initiative. The two sides committed themselves to firmly support each other in upholding their sovereignty, security and development interests, and the African side reiterated their firm position on the one-China policy.
During the visit, African partners and other friends were briefed about progress of Chinese modernisation. It was stressed that with strong resilience, tremendous potential and great vitality, China’s growth and modernisation will always be an important opportunity for global and African development. The advantages of China’s growth were reflected on its socialist market economy, huge domestic market in terms of demand, full-fledged industrial system in terms of supply, and abundant, high-caliber labor force and entrepreneurs in terms of human resources. The Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Civilisation Initiative (GCI) were also further elaborated, and China will soon set up a special fund dedicated to the implementation of the Global Development Initiative.
China has maintained sound relations with Seychelles over the past decades, and the bilateral relations are entering new stage of development. Against the background of strengthened ties between China and Africa and other developing countries, we are confident that Seychelles will benefit a lot from all the initiatives proposed by China. The Chinese side is looking forward to working with Seychelles brothers and sisters to unleash the cooperation potential and bring more benefits to our two peoples.