The relationship between China and the African Union (AU)

…linking Africa’s industrialization and agricultural modernization with China’s development

By Qian Hongshan

The famous African statesman and founding president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere once said that, “Together, we, the peoples of Africa will be incomparably stronger internationally than we are now with our multiplicity of unviable states.”

Fifty-three years ago, thanks to the vision and unswerving efforts of the older generation of African leaders and statesman, the epoch-making Organization of African Unity (OAU) came into being, leading African people to national liberation and independence and contributing to world peace and development.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the African Union (AU), which has grown out of the OAU, has carried forward its mission and continued to guide Africa’s solidarity and integration. The Agenda 2063 and its first 10-year plan introduced by the AU last year, as the mid- and long-term development roadmaps for Africa, were highly applauded and widely supported by the international community.

Africa has now risen to be one of the regions with the fastest economic growth rate and greatest investment potential, and is praised as the “continent of hope” and “a land of development”. On the international arena, Africa speaks with one voice and acts in solidarity. Africa formed common positions on issues such as the reform of the UN Security Council and climate change, making major contribution to safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and bringing about a more just and equitable international political and economic order.

An Africa that seeks strength through unity has become an important pole in the world in the political, economic and cultural aspects. What President Nyerere once envisioned is now becoming a reality.

China and Africa are good friends, partners and brothers. China has always firmly stood by the side of Africa as it pursues strength through unity, supported the leading role of the OAU, and later the AU, in addressing Africa’s internal and external affairs and provided assistance to Africa to the best of its ability.

The relationship between China and the AU continued to consolidate and deepen in recent years. The two sides maintained frequent high-level visits, as evidenced by a number of meetings between Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang and the AU leaders. Dialogue and cooperation mechanism between China and the AU is also improving with six rounds of strategic dialogue being held after 2008. Practical cooperation across the board between the two sides has been productive. The AU Conference Center built with China’s assistance now stands as the new symbol of China-Africa friendship. In the building of Africa’s high-speed rail, expressway and regional aviation networks and the African Center for Disease Control and in the industrialization process of Africa, our cooperation will further boost Africa’s development and improve its people’s wellbeing. China firmly supports Africa in its efforts to resolve African issues in the African way and has played an active and constructive role in this regard.

Last year, President Xi Jinping announced military aid of US$100 million to the AU in the coming five years to support the building of the African Standby Force at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. In the past year since its inception, the Chinese Mission to the AU has served as a more direct and efficient channel of cooperation between the two sides. China-AU cooperation has become the new engine behind China-Africa relations.

During the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit last December, China-Africa relationship was upgraded into a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. President Xi Jinping proposed during the Summit ten cooperation plans and announced a total of US$60 billion of funding support, drawing a new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation with clear priorities in key areas.

The ten cooperation plans encapsulate the policy of sincerity; real results, affinity and good faith put forward by President Xi Jinping for our relations with Africa and reflect a balanced approach to principles and interests. Formulated in light of the “new normal” of China’s economic development, the cooperation plans can also dovetail well with the strategic goals and priority areas put forward by the Agenda 2063. The aim is to link Africa’s industrialization and agricultural modernization with China’s development, so that Africa will enhance its own development capacity, realize economic independence and sustainable development and become a new pole that drives the economic growth of China and the world as we pursue win-win cooperation and common development.

China, as always, will honor its words with real actions. We are now actively engaging with African countries to implement the outcomes and pushing for early and better results.
I hope Africans will actively play the role of bridges connecting China and Africa, by making proposals to their own country, and making best use of your postings here in Beijing to strengthen communication and coordination with relevant Chinese agencies and companies to form synergy and turn the outcomes of the Summit into real benefits for the people of China and Africa at an early date. The Chinese Foreign Ministry will continue to provide you support and assistance in this regard.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Africa. In traditional Chinese calendar, 60 years is a full cycle. And here we are, 60 years on, standing at the new starting point of China-Africa relations. China is ready to join hands with African friends, to build on past achievements and pursue new progress, and open up a new era of win-win cooperation and common development for China and Africa.

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