Promote China-Africa Belt and Road Cooperation in the New Era

By Ambassador Liu Yuxi

ADDIS ABABA – Taking advantage of the successful holding of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the China-AU Coordination Mechanism for Implementing the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) held the first meeting on 13 December, and both sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of the coordination mechanism.

This was an important step after the signing of the Cooperation Plan on Promoting Belt and Road Initiative, marking China-Africa joint construction of the BRI, stepping into a new track of institutionalization, and entering a new phase of implementation.

From top-level design to practical cooperation, from concept establishment to mechanism docking, the China-Africa cooperation of BRI, like a picture, is being drawn up one step at a time with extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits as the background.

Africa is an important direction for the joint construction of BRI, with 52 African countries as well as the African Union Commission have already signed agreements on cooperation under the initiative. The African Union is the most representative and internationally influential intergovernmental organization in Africa, and is the banner of Africa’s unity and self-improvement. The African Union adheres to multilateralism, actively promotes peace and development in Africa, advances the integration process, and coordinates African countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It has made remarkable achievements and has shown important influence in regional and international affairs.

The Cooperation Plan on Promoting Belt and Road Initiative is the first cooperation document signed by China and a regional international organization to jointly build BRI, which focuses on the fields of policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, and clarifies the content and focus of cooperation between the two sides. The establishment of the coordination mechanism between China and the AU will surely effectively promote the docking of the Belt and Road initiative with the AU Agenda 2063, adding new impetus to the high-quality development of China-Africa’s joint construction of BRI.

Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed a high-level symposium on BRI in Beijing. He emphasized to fully, correctly and comprehensively implement the development philosophy, with the goal to improve people’s lives and promote sustainable development at high standard, consolidate the foundation for connectivity cooperation, expand new spaces for international cooperation, set up a network of risk prevention and control, and strive to achieve a higher level of cooperation, higher investment efficiency, higher supply quality, and higher development resilience, in order to promote the high-quality development of joint construction of BRI to continuously make new achievements.



At the Opening Ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, President Xi also said that almost all African members of FOCAC had joined the big family of the Belt and Road Initiative, which injected strong impetus into the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

China will work closely with African countries to implement 9 programs, including medical and health, poverty reduction and agricultural development, trade promotion, investment promotion, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, cultural and people-to-people exchange, and peace and security.

The establishment of The China-AU Coordination Mechanism for Implementing BRI is at the right time, and is an important step to promote the implementation of BRI and cooperation projects between China and Africa. It will promote the institutionalization and standardization of China-AU cooperation on BRI, enable the effective docking of the executive departments and resources of the two sides, and build channels and mechanisms for exchanges, communication, and consultations. Moreover, it will promote practical cooperation in various fields between China and Africa, and facilitate the quality upgrade of China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.

In September, President Xi delivered remarks at the United Nations General Assembly, proposing the Global Development Initiative (GDI). By confirming development as the master switch, the GDI stays committed to development as the priority and takes a people-centered, benefit-for-all, innovation-driven and results-oriented approaches. It also focuses on the harmony between man and nature.

The GDI synchronizes with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the AU 2063 Agenda and forms strong synergies. It has received positive responses from African countries and around the world and charts the course for deeper cooperation under the BRI. The China-AU Coordination Mechanism for Implementing the BRI is an important move to implement the GDI in Africa, which injects new impetus to win-win cooperation and promoting common development between China and Africa. It contributes to the sharing of China’s development opportunities with African countries and strives for more achievements of China-Africa cooperation under the BRI at an early date.

BRI cooperation pursues development, aims at mutual benefits, and conveys a message of hope. Since its inception, the Initiative has earned active support and participation from African countries. A large number of key cooperation projects between China and Africa are now up and running, delivering concrete benefits.

In recent years, under the BRI, a number of transport infrastructure projects have been completed and opened to traffic, including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya, No. 1 National Highway of the Republic of the Congo, the Thies-Touba highway in Senegal, the Port Gentil-Omboue coastal road and the Booué Bridge in Gabon, and the first and second phases of the Nigeria Railway Modernization Project. Projects such as the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port in Djibouti and the Lome Container Terminal in Togo have been successful in increasing entrepot trade. These projects have played an important role in boosting regional connectivity and integration.



Despite the impact of COVID-19, China has maintained its position as Africa’s largest trade partner for 12 years straight. The direct investments in Africa from China remain steady. Over 1,100 cooperation projects keep running, contributing to the economic recovery of Africa. Moreover, China-Africa cooperation in new areas such as digital economy, aerospace, clean energy and new infrastructure are also scaling up.

In the context of COVID-19, China-AU cooperation has become a new name card for China-Africa joint construction of BRI. China has given strong support to the AU in implementing its anti-pandemic strategy, provided supplies and vaccines in batches to AU and other African countries, building a Healthy Silk Road which protects lives.

At the end of last year, China started construction of the Africa CDC headquarters ahead of schedule and completed the topping-out of the main building last month, helping Africa enhance its capacity for disease prevention and control. China also established an energy partnership with the AU, actively supported the development of the AfCFTA, set up a China-Africa economic cooperation expert group with the secretary of the AfCFTA, and promoted cooperation in infrastructure, digital economy, cyber security, satellite navigation, climate change, agriculture and other fields.

At present, peace and development remain the main theme of our times. Economic globalization is irreversible and a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is in the ascendant. At the same time, we are also living in a world where cooperation parallels competition and opportunities exist with challenges. Global issues such as epidemic control and climate change are having an unprecedented impact on human society.

Unilateralism and trade protectionism are rampant and profound changes unseen in a century are accelerating in the world. This calls for the international community to practice true multilateralism and work together to meet challenges and achieve common development. The deepening of China-Africa cooperation on BRI has set a good example for international development cooperation and injected strong impetus into global development.

The trend of peace, development and progress of mankind cannot be stopped, and the great strength of the 2.7 billion Chinese and African people cannot be stopped. Like a Chinese poem says, “I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves, and set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea.” China is ready to work with AU and African countries to take high-quality China-Africa joint construction on BRI to a new level and build a community with a shared future of higher standards.

 

The author, Ambassador LIU Yuxi, is Head of Mission of China to the African Union

 

Editor’s note: The article reflects the authors’ opinion only, and not necessarily the views of the editorial view of EM News.

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