FOCAC's 20 years witness ever-strengthening China-Africa cooperation, unity
[Shi Yu/ China Daily]
At the turn of the 21st century, China and Africa established what would become one of the world's most vibrant and successful multilateral platforms for international cooperation -- the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
As the forum marks its 20th anniversary this year, it has triumphed over naysayers' pessimism over China-Africa cooperation and carried forward the spirit of jointly building a China-Africa community with a shared future.
FOCAC, since its inception in 2000, has gone a long way in multiple spheres.
Politically, China-Africa ties are at a historic record high. A total of 50 African heads of state and government participated in the FOCAC summit held in Beijing in 2018. What's more, for the past 30 years, China has kept its notable tradition to have its foreign ministers travel to Africa as their very first overseas visit every year. Both facts clearly show that China and Africa attach great significance to their comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
Economically, bilateral trade hit 208.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, more than 20 times that over the year 2000, and China has been Africa's top trading partner for 11 years. More than 3,700 Chinese companies are doing business in Africa, contributing to the region's continued economic growth.
Chinese-built and invested mega projects such as Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway that make front-page news are examples of China's devotion to helping Africa develop its weak infrastructure and industries as well as create jobs. Data show Chinese companies have renovated and built over 6,000 km of railways and roads respectively and constructed nearly 20 ports and over 80 large-scale electricity facilities across Africa.
FOCAC's 20 years have also witnessed closer ties in cultural and educational cooperation and more frequent people-to-people exchanges. Enthusiasm among African youths to learn the Chinese language and culture has grown exponentially, with many considering Chinese universities and colleges as their top destination to pursue higher learning.
To meet the rising demand for learning the Chinese language and culture, China has established 61 Confucius Institutes across Africa over the past 20 years. Africa's unique natural scenery and culture have also been welcoming a fast-growing number of Chinese tourists year by year.
FOCAC's 20th anniversary has fallen on quite an unusual year, when COVID-19, mankind's common enemy, is infecting tens of millions and has stalled nations' economies. Challenging times especially test the truthfulness of a bond, and China-Africa relations have appeared more valuable than gold.
When the virus first hit China's Wuhan city early this year and forced a city-wide lockdown, African countries showed their care and concern to China by providing cash and other kinds of relief. After China managed to contain the spread of the virus, it in return responded with kindness on a larger scale.
China has provided a large quantity of critical medical supplies to African countries and sent more than a dozen teams of experienced Chinese medical experts to help Africa's COVID-19 fight, and facilitated African countries' purchase of supplies from China. Such a scenario is reminiscent of China's significant humanitarian aid during the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa in 2014.
In a joint congratulatory message to mark FOCAC's 20th anniversary on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Macky Sall, president of the forum's African co-chair Senegal, said China and Africa are ready to uphold the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, jointly cope with various risks and challenges, and let their cooperation shine as an example of multilateralism and mutual benefits.
The world today is still challenged by hegemony and power politics. Protectionism and unilateralism continue to be on the rise, while wars, terrorist attacks, famines, and epidemics are emerging one after another. In such a context, China and Africa need to strengthen cooperation more than ever to jointly safeguard the fundamental interests of China and Africa, as well as other developing countries.
With stronger cooperation and partnership between China and Africa, FOCAC will surely maintain its vitality and strive to enhance the well-being of the Chinese and African peoples.