By Xiao Han
China and Africa have both done an excellent job in the past year in dealing with the severe challenges brought by profound changes and a pandemic unseen in a century.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has worked to fight the pandemic, improve livelihood, ensure economic growth and expand opening-up, advancing with unstoppable momentum toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
China’s is currently leading the world in terms of economic growth, injecting a strong impetus for global recovery. It has made a miracle of poverty eradication and achieved the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The country’s technological achievements command the attention of the world, and breakthroughs are being made continuously in the high-tech field. Besides, China has achieved a major victory in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. It has administered over 2.4 billion doses of vaccines across the country, and the number is the highest in the world.
African countries have made active responses and united together facing the impacts from the pandemic. Earlier this year, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was officially initiated. It will create a market that covers nearly 1.3 billion people with a total GDP of more than $2 trillion. The AfCFTA is expected to offer new opportunities for Africa to release development potential and vitalize regional economy. Weeks ago, the World Bank raised its 2021 economic growth forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa to 3.3 percent and 3.5 percent in 2022.
In the past year, China-Africa cooperation has withstood the test of the pandemic.
On one hand, the cooperation between the two sides showed strong resilience, and in particular, their pragmatic cooperation has been accelerating vigorously. China-Africa bilateral trade has been steadily increasing for the past 16 years. China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for more than a decade, with the volume of trade reaching over $180 billion last year. China’s direct investment in Africa hit $2.96 billion last year, which surpassed the pre-pandemic level of 2019. During the pandemic, all Chinese projects in Africa maintained operation, and none of them has recalled personnel or been defunded. Over 1,100 cooperation projects kept running amid the pandemic, with nearly 100,000 Chinese engineers and technicians sticking to their posts.
On the other hand, China-Africa cooperation is advancing with robust vitality, constantly revealing new highlights and growth points. China has actively fulfilled its commitment of making COVID-19 vaccines a global public product, and taken the lead in providing vaccine doses to Africa.
Apart from the cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, China and Africa are also delivering outcomes of their close collaboration in digital economy, aerospace, clean energy and new infrastructure.
For instance, a national data center, a national broadband network and an e-government platform funded and technically supported by China have been put into use in Senegal. Besides, the “Smart Senegal” e-infrastructure project built by China is also about to be delivered, offering a solid foundation for the country’s digital transformation.
Such resilience reveals the profound basis for cooperation between China and Africa, and the vitality of their cooperation is heralding a bright future. Though the pandemic has placed roadblocks on the way of cooperation between the two sides, China and Africa has never stopped their steps of cooperation or wavered in their determination to maintain solidarity. The Chinese and Africans are getting increasingly closer for cooperation. This is a choice made by the two sides upon the past, the present days and the future.
From a historical point of view, both China and Africa cherish their traditional friendship. The two sides enjoy a long history of friendship. Especially since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China has always adhered to the principles of equality, mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs and not attaching political strings to its foreign aid, laying a solid foundation for the robust development of China-Africa cooperation in the 21st century.
Both China and Africa are optimistic about Africa’s prospects. Considering its own development course and experience, China has always been positive about the future of Africa and been committed to enhancing its cooperation with the continent, so as to break the biases and stereotypes about the continent. We firmly believe that Africa is completely capable of independently exploring a path of vitalization that suits its own conditions.
Both China and Africa are unswervingly following multilateralism for a better future of humanity. At the crossroads that concerns the future of mankind, the two sides see an urgent demand to reinforce solidarity and cooperation, and safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese and African people to jointly fight the pandemic, oppose external interference, follow equity and justice, and live a better life, so as to contribute positive energy to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and a new type of international relations, as well as world peace and development.
As representatives from the two sides are expected to gather soon at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to be held in Senegal, China and Africa are about to jointly embark on a new journey and usher in a new era.
The event, to be held amid the pandemic, reflects the mutual trust and support between the world’s largest developing country and the continent that is home to the largest number of developing countries, as well as their resolution, courage and responsibility to answer the questions of the times.
China and Africa, adhering to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, will deepen their partnership, promote sustainable development, and build a community with a shared future between China and Africa. Together, they will strive for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the vitalization of the African continent.
(Xiao Han is the Chinese Ambassador to Senegal.)