|AU Headquarters: China's 'gift' to Africa Photo courtesy|
Africa today is a land with faster economic growth and rising influence in international affairs. It is a land that radiates fresh vigor and vitality and holds out bright prospects for development. The AU, whose establishment and development has been closely linked with overall progress of Africa, has played a critical role in this regard. We are glad to see that the AU has become an important force for peace, stability and development in Africa and the world as a whole thanks to its growth over the decade. We have every reason to believe that, under its guidance, Africa will make even greater and more solid progress along the path of strength through unity.
At present, both the world and Africa are undergoing profound and complex changes. The underlying impact of the international financial crisis and the continuing turmoil in west Asia and north Africa have affected, to a considerable degree, the cause of peace, stability and development in Africa. A host of internal and external factors have posed growing challenges to Africa in its quest to enhance strength through unity and solve regional issues independently. Though Africa has made impressive progress in economic and social development, meeting the Millennium Development Goals remains a daunting task. The people of Africa are reflecting on their future and development path, and conducting explorations accordingly. The international community should view Africa's development from the perspective of a community of common destinies, take a responsible attitude and make active efforts to promote peace, stability and development in Africa. In this connection, I wish to share with you some of my observations.
First, we must firmly uphold peace, stability and development of Africa. Africa cannot achieve peace and development in isolation from the world, and the world needs Africa for stability and prosperity. A peaceful, stable and constantly developing Africa is a blessing for the world. In a land that has gone through so many wars and conflicts, the state of overall peace and stability as enjoyed by Africa today is hard won and calls for our extra care. In dealing with the hotspot issues in Africa, China has always stood for adherence to the UN Charter and generally recognized principles governing international relations, and encouraged the relevant parties to find solutions through dialogue and consultation with a view to maintaining international and regional peace and stability.
Second, we must fully respect the efforts of African countries in resolving African issues independently. In recent years, Africa has steadily built up its capacity to independently address African issues. Facts have proven that African countries are able and wise enough to do so. The international community should provide support and help to the resolution of African issues. China believes that such help should be based on respect for the will of the African people and should be constructive. It should reinforce, rather than undercut, Africa's independent efforts to solve problems. Interference in Africa's internal affairs by outside forces out of selfish motives can only complicate the efforts to resolve issues in Africa.
Third, we must vigorously support African countries in seeking strength through unity and the integration process. Strength through unity is the right choice made by African countries in light of their history and tradition, their current circumstances and their need for future development. The proud achievements made in the cause of African peace and development in recent years is, to a large extent, attributable to the growing momentum of seeking strength through unity. The current summit, which takes "Boosting Intra-African Trade" as its theme, will undoubtedly play an important role in advancing African integration. Everyone who hopes to see African development should vigorously support African countries in seeking strength through unity and advancing the integration process.
Fourth, we must pay more attention to the issue of African development and make bigger input. The North-South imbalance in development is the principal cause of global economic imbalance. In addressing the international financial crisis, the international community should pay more attention to the issue of African development. It should actively deliver on the aid commitment, take concrete actions to accommodate African concerns in context of the WTO Doha Round negotiations and the reform of the international financial system and make the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development this year focus more on sustainable economic and social development in Africa.
Despite the vast geographical distance, China and Africa enjoy a long-standing friendship. Our peoples have over the years shared weal and woe and forged a strong bond of affinity. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, China and Africa supported each other and worked together hand in hand. In the new century, with the establishment of the FOCAC, particularly with the launch at the FOCAC Beijing Summit of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges, relations between China and Africa have entered a new era of all-round, fast and in-depth development and demonstrated strong vigor and vitality.
Throughout the development of China-Africa relations, we have always respected the sovereignty and development path of African countries and refrained from interfering in their internal affairs. We have always treated African countries on an equal footing and pursued mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation with them. We have always regarded assistance and support between China and Africa as mutual, and have never attached political strings to our assistance to Africa. While pursuing our own development, we have always endeavored to seek common development with Africa and promote African development through China's development. African countries, for their part, have all along given China firm support on issues concerning China's major and core interests, and offered strong support to China's economic development. The Chinese people will always remember the selfless help that the African people have given to the Chinese people.
The present-day world is undergoing major development, major transformation and major adjustments. Being respectively the world's largest developing country and the largest group of developing countries, China and Africa should strengthen solidarity and cooperation. This is of great significance for world peace, stability and development. China views and develops its relations with Africa from a strategic and long-term perspective. We will work still harder with African countries to bring the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership to a higher level.
First, we should energetically promote the traditional friendship between China and Africa. This traditional friendship is our common asset. It constitutes the foundation of our strategic mutual trust and the foremost driving force for the development of China-Africa relations. No matter what changes there might be in the world or in our respective domestic situations, we must work together to take good care of and further develop our traditional friendship so that it will be passed on from generation to generation. China is ready to increase high-level exchanges with African countries, step up strategic dialogue and communication, share experiences on governance and enhance mutual understanding and trust.
Second, we should intensify coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues. As developing countries, China and African countries share broad common interests. We should continue to render each other support on issues concerning our respective major and core interests. China will firmly support African countries in their efforts to uphold sovereignty and independence and resolve African issues on their own. We will firmly support African countries' independent choice of development path. We maintain that all countries, big or small, are equal, and we are opposed to the big, strong and rich bullying the small, weak and poor. We will firmly support the just position of African countries at various international fora. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will continue to actively participate in affairs concerning peace and security in Africa with a responsible attitude.
Third, we should endeavor to raise the level of economic cooperation between China and Africa. China is ready to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation with African countries in agriculture, infrastructure, personnel training, finance and other areas on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and common development. China will encourage more competitive and reputable Chinese companies to make investment in Africa, scale up assistance to African countries and help African countries build greater capacity for independent development so as to deliver greater benefits to the local people. China takes the problems existing in our bilateral business cooperation seriously. We have and will continue to take effective measures together with African countries to resolve them and enable African countries to benefit more from out cooperation.
Fourth, we should vigorously expand people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa. While cherishing contacts at official levels, the two sides should also value the role of people-to-people exchanges. We should encourage non-governmental organizations, academics, news media and institutions of higher learning from both sides to interact and cooperate more closely. We should encourage our young people to increase exchanges and carry out various forms of cultural exchanges. In short, we should let the people of China and Africa get more extensively engaged in China-Africa cooperation.
Fifth, we should enhance the building of FOCAC. The two sides should strengthen the strategic planning and institutional building of FOCAC in a spirit of innovation and keeping pace with the times, earnestly implement the outcomes of the Fourth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, and come up with cooperation proposals that meet both the call of our time and the need of the two sides at the Fifth Ministerial Conference scheduled for this year. By doing so, we will make FOCAC truly instrumental for the growth of China-Africa relations.
China attaches great importance to its relations with the AU, regards the AU as a key cooperation partner in African and international affairs and firmly supports a greater AU role in both the internal and external affairs of Africa. To further strengthen China-AU friendship and cooperation, I wish to announce, on behalf of the Chinese government, that China will provide a total of RMB 600 million free assistance to the AU in the next three years. We are ready to work with the AU to improve on the mechanism of China-AU Strategic Dialogue, and enhance cooperation in cross-border and cross-region infrastructure development in Africa and in areas pertaining to African peace and security, thus adding new substance to the development of China-Africa relations.
In the 60-odd years since the founding of the People's Republic, and especially in the past three decades or more since the beginning of reform and opening-up, China has grown remarkably both economically and in terms of comprehensive national strength; and the living standards of the Chinese people have markedly improved. We have succeeded in opening a new path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is a path that leads to socialist modernization for China and contributes to development in the region and the world at large. We will unswervingly follow this path as we move forward to the future.
At the same time, we are soberly aware that China remains a developing country. Such problems as uneven, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remain salient. The country is under tremendous pressure in terms of population, resources and the environment. With 128 million citizens still living below the poverty line, there is a long way to go before China can achieve modernization and ensure common prosperity for all the people. Last year, China formulated and issued the 12th Five-Year Plan, which lays out the guiding principles, strategic goals and major tasks for China's economic and social development in the next five years. We will approach development in a scientific way, speed up the shift of the growth model, strive for long-term, steady and fairly rapid economic growth and social harmony and stability, and lay a foundation crucial for the building of a well-off society in all respects.
China's development is peaceful, open and cooperative. China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development. We will develop China by maintaining world peace and contribute to world peace by developing China. We will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace, respect the right of the people of all countries to independently choose their social systems and development paths, and refrain from imposing our will on others. China will, proceeding from the fundamental interests of its own people and the common interests of the people around the world, formulate its positions and policies on various issues on the merits of each case, uphold justice, and play a positive role in international affairs. China will continue to follow a win-win strategy of opening-up. While seeking our own development, we will strive for the common development of all countries through mutually beneficial cooperation. Facts have shown and will continue to show that China's development is an opportunity for the world. China will always be a staunch force for world peace and stability.
As an African saying goes, to be without a friend is to be poor indeed. The people of China and Africa are good friends, good partners and good brothers. Our friendship is as solid as the towering Mount Kilimanjaro and as vibrant as the Yangtze River and the Yellow River. Let us work hand in hand to promote the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa and write a fresh chapter of China-Africa friendship.
By Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China.