Working Together to Write a New Chapter in China-Africa Cooperation
– Speech at the China-Africa Business Forum
H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China
Johannesburg, 4 December 2015
Your Excellency President Zuma,
Your Excellency President Mugabe, Rotating Chairperson of the African Union,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency Dr. Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to meet all of you here in this beautiful city of Johannesburg. This Forum, with the theme of “China-Africa Cooperation for Common Development – Catapulting the African Industrialization Renaissance”, is highly relevant for the inclusive and sustainable development of the African continent. Here, I wish to extend my warmest congratulations on the successful convocation of the Forum and my heartfelt appreciation to friends of all sectors that have made contribution over the years to trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa.
Though geographically far apart, China and Africa enjoy a long history of exchanges and a friendship that has stood the test of time. Today’s Africa is brimming with vigor and vitality, and business cooperation between our two sides has reached an unprecedented level. A large number of Chinese entrepreneurs have come to Africa for investment and business ventures, while more and more African friends are working and doing business in China. In Zhejiang, a province where I used to work, there is a small city called Yiwu, now well known as the world’s “capital of small commodities”. Several thousand businessmen from Africa are based there, engaging in China-Africa trade.
By the end of 2014, the total stock of Chinese investment in Africa had reached US$101 billion, resulting in more than 3,100 Africa-based enterprises. Two-way trade reached US$221.9 billion in 2014. China has become Africa’s principal cooperation partner in such areas as trade, investment, infrastructural development and economic cooperation parks.
At present, the situation facing the world economy is both complex and fluid, with weak recovery in developed countries, economic slowdown in emerging markets and increasing risks of uncertainty and instability in global economic growth. But, Africa, the continent that has more developing countries than any other, has distinguished itself as an economic bright spot in recent years.
The security situation in Africa has been generally stable. Taking economic development as their central task, governments in Africa have formulated ambitious economic, industrial and infrastructure development plans, prompting an average annual growth rate of nearly 5% on the continent. Africa’s vibrant process of industrialization and urbanization has injected fresh dynamism into global economic growth and made it the fastest growing and most promising continent in the world.
Looking at the modern history of world economic development and the experiences of China and many other countries, we can say for sure that industrialization is an inevitable path to a country’s economic success. China has gone through a hard and tortuous journey of industrialization for the past century and a half. Back in the mid-19th century, the overwhelming military might of foreign powers forced China to open its door and began what was called “self-strengthening movement” in an early form of industrialization. Since the beginning of reform and opening-up, China has embarked on a fast track of industrialization. Within a short span of several decades, China has accomplished what took developed countries hundreds of years to accomplish and put in place a complete industrial system with an enormous production capacity. By becoming the world’s largest manufacturing country and second largest economy, China has testified to the success of its probe for an industrialization path suited to its national conditions.
Looking at China’s journey of industrialization, we have keenly recognized that industrialization cannot be achieved behind closed doors. Industrialization in the age of economic globalization requires that we take full advantage of both domestic and international markets and both home and overseas resources, put our comparative advantages to the best use and realize the global allocation of resources. What is more, we should draw on as much as possible the experience of the advanced countries, and choose an industrialization path suited to our national features and conditions. It is entirely possible for Africa, as the world’s most promising region in terms of development potential, to bring into play its advantages and achieve great success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The achievement of inclusive and sustainable development in Africa hinges on industrialization which holds the key to creating jobs, eradicating poverty and improving people’s living standards. Africa’s path of industrialization can only be found by African people through their own practice and exploration. It is China’s sincere hope to share its experience with African countries, and we are willing to provide capital, technology and personnel in support of African industrialization. In the areas of industry, infrastructure building, and investment and trade facilitation, China-Africa cooperation will create more investment and trade opportunities for companies of the two sides, thus enhancing the competitiveness of African industries and closing the infrastructure gap in Africa. In the fields of modern agriculture, green development, poverty reduction and people’s welfare, China-Africa cooperation will enable companies from the two sides to share advanced know-how, and help African countries establish a sustainable development model, enhance their independent development capacity, improve their public governance and raise the quality of life of the African people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With new circumstances come new opportunities. China and Africa should embrace our proud tradition of sincere friendship and enhance mutual assistance and cooperation. To this end, I wish to make the following proposals:
First, we must go for win-win cooperation based on equality. Both China and Africa should uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests, bear in mind their realities and each other’s concerns, seek and expand converging interests and jointly build a community of shared future for China and Africa.
Second, we must go for multilateral cooperation that is open and inclusive. Our world has already become a closely interconnected whole. We want to see an open and inclusive global economy and reject trade and investment protectionism. As China-Africa economic cooperation is open, companies from other countries are welcome to get involved on the basis of mutual benefit.
Third, we must go for practical cooperation aimed at capacity building. China is ready to share, without any reservation, advanced applicable technology with Africa and combine Chinese competitive industries with African needs for development to deepen industrial cooperation. This will help enhance the quality of the African workforce, and create more jobs and strengthen Africa’s internal drive for economic development. We will send over more experts, set up more vocational training centers and strengthen personnel training and entrepreneurial exchanges to earnestly meet African needs for well-trained personnel and capacity building in industrialization.
Fourth, we must go for green, low-carbon and sustainable development. As Africa boasts rich natural resources and a superb ecological environment, we should give top priority to sustainable development in China-Africa cooperation. We will launch projects for African countries to cope with climate change and better protect the ecology, train more African professionals in environmental protection and help Africa embark on the path of green, low-carbon and sustainable development.
Fifth, we must go for priority cooperation with focus on the fundamental aspects. We will make an overall design for the all-round business cooperation between China and Africa, help African countries in farmland and water conservancy projects, strengthen transportation, infrastructure and power supply, and support SMEs and programs of poverty reduction and people’s welfare, thus delivering tangible benefits of China-Africa cooperation to all the people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Entrepreneurs are the main players in China-Africa business cooperation as well as promoters of China-Africa friendship. I sincerely hope that Chinese and African entrepreneurs will shoulder the responsibility of all-round business cooperation between the two sides, be prepared to blaze new trails and learn from each other, and work together to bring about a better future for the Chinese and African peoples.