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    New boost for ties with Africa

    By ZHOU JIN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-11-27 07:14
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    Kenyan workers at the construction site of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, contracted by China Communications Construction Company Co Ltd. [Photo provided to China Daily]

    President set to unveil major package of measures to enhance bilateral relations

    President Xi Jinping is expected to announce a series of major steps to boost substantive cooperation between China and Africa in the next three years when addressing the opening ceremony of the eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation via video link on Monday.

    The measures will cover areas including China's support to Africa in the fight against COVID-19, cooperation on trade and investment and the response to climate change, according to Wu Peng, head of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry.

    State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao will attend the conference from Monday to Tuesday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Leaders attending the opening ceremony will include Senegalese President Macky Sall, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

    Calling it another major gathering of the China-Africa family since the 2018 Beijing summit, the conference is the biggest face-to-face diplomatic event China has co-hosted abroad since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wu said.

    On Friday, the State Council Information Office issued a white paper entitled "China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals", the first white paper published by the Chinese government on bilateral cooperation, and also the first of its kind on China's cooperation with a specific region.


    Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao said the white paper aims to introduce China's philosophy behind its Africa policy and present the outcomes of China-Africa cooperation in the new era.

    It also helps to increase the understanding of the international community on China-Africa cooperation, and contribute China's experience and wisdom to international cooperation with the continent as well as global development cooperation, he said.

    Noting that Africa is a big stage for international cooperation rather than an arena for competition between major powers, he called on various countries to respect the sovereignty of African countries and listen to their voices when conducting cooperation.

    China welcomes more countries and international organizations to join the global development initiative and the initiative on partnership in Africa's development in order to coordinate the international community's support to help African countries achieve stronger, greener, and healthier growth, he added.

    The assistant foreign minister also slammed the so-called debt traps, saying that one cannot say that the loans provided by Western countries including Japan are development aid, while viewing Chinese loans as "debt traps".

    This allegation has been disproved by a wide range of governments, scholars and institutes across the globe, said Wu Peng. Not a single developing country has fallen into so-called debt traps because of Chinese loans, he said.

    He said that China has been supporting the move to ease African countries' debt burden, is actively implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for Poorest Countries and has the highest deferral amount among G20 members.

    After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China had announced the cancellation of 15 African countries' debt in the form of interest-free government loans that were due to mature by the end of 2020, he said.

    He said the two sides have also been working closely together to seek progress in economic recovery.

    With these joint efforts, a large number of major projects have been completed or made progress, and China-Africa cooperation has shown great resilience despite the pandemic, Wu Peng said.

    China's confidence in strengthening cooperation with Africa will not be shaken by the pandemic and economic problems, nor will the country change its commitment or weaken its actions, he said.

    Trade between China and Africa rose 38.2 percent year-on-year to $185.2 billion in the first three quarters of this year, reaching the highest level in history for the same period, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

    The pandemic has triggered stronger China-Africa cooperation in areas like medicine and health, 5G, the digital economy, and industrial and supply chain integration, Wu Peng said.

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