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The Coordinators’ Meeting of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit: Further Promoting China-Africa Relations

On July 29, 2016, a high-level Eritrean government delegation headed by Mr. Hagos Gebrehiwet, Head of PFDJ Economic Affairs, took part in the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Beijing.
The meeting was a success with abundant achievements, and has added new impetus to the China-Africa Relations.

As it was pointed out by Chinese President Xi Jinping in his congratulatory letter to the Coordinators’ Meeting last December, the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit marks the beginning of a new era of win-win cooperation and common development between China and Africa, and adds significance to the development of China- Africa relations. Over the past six months, China and Africa have shown close coordination overcoming the negative impact of the sluggish world economy and reached a consensus on the implementation of the summit outcomes and achieved tangible results as a demonstration of the vigorous development of China-Africa cooperation. The Coordinators’ Meeting this time was an important step by China and Africa to implement the consensus of Chinese and African leaders and the outcomes of the FOCAC Summit.

The level, scale and outcomes of the Coordinators’ Meeting went beyond expectation and were summarized by China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming and Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming, the two Chairmen of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the FOCAC. Their summary contained the following aspects:

First, the meeting enjoyed high standard and great popularity as both sides attached high importance to it. President Xi Jinping sent a letter of congratulation. Vice President Li Yuanchao held a group meeting with heads of African delegations. State Councilor Yang Jiechi attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng jointly held the welcoming banquet. Fifty-two African members of the FOCAC participated in the meeting with the attendance of over 100 officials above the ministerial level.

Second, the highly-productive and pragmatic meeting yielded rather practical outcomes as it focused on development. People from governmental departments, enterprises, financial institutions and other organizations for both sides held intensive bilateral meetings and consultations on the sidelines. At the signing ceremony on July 28, the two sides signed 61 cooperation agreements in various forms with a total contract of 18.2 billion dollars, of which the amount of direct investment from Chinese enterprises to Africa reached 14.8 billion dollars, accounting for over 80 percent of the total value. According to incomplete statistics, over the past 7 months after the conclusion of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, China and Africa have signed 243 cooperation agreements of various kinds, involving a total of 50.7 billion dollars. The volume of direct investment and commercial loans from Chinese enterprises to Africa reached over 46 billion dollars, accounting for more than 91 percent of the total amount. The Joint Statement adopted at the meeting has put forward the five major cooperation concepts of common, intensive, green, safe and open development for implementing the summit outcomes in the next stage. This will vigorously advance and guide the future cooperation between the two sides.

Third, China-Africa cooperation mechanism and patterns are becoming more mature and complete. Given the continuous downturn in current world economy, China-Africa cooperation is bucking the trend and showing thriving vitality. The implementation of the summit outcomes has become a strong impetus for the development of bilateral cooperation. The 60- billion-dollar financial support as a catalyst of China-Africa cooperation will promote investment and financing in various aspects. The principle of “government guidance, enterprises dominance, market operation, and win-win cooperation” is becoming more clear and effective. China- Africa cooperation structure is continuously improving demonstrating a new state of transformation and upgrade and ushering in a new level to the China-Africa relations.

Fourth, the Coordinator’s Meeting represented another innovation in the development process of the FOCAC mechanism, highlighting the forum’s unique advantages of high efficiency, pragmatism and leading the cooperation between the international community and Africa. China’s Ministry of Commerce signed 20 inter-governmental economic and trade cooperation agreements with relevant African countries.

Among these, Mr. Hagos signed a new agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Eritrea and China, with China’s Minister of Commerce Mr. Gao Hucheng, representing yet another important fruit in the two countries’ bilateral cooperation. Representatives of Chinese enterprises and financial institutions signed several cooperation agreements with the African side, laying a sound foundation for the follow-up work.

The success of the Coordinators’ Meeting speaks volumes about the vibrancy and dynamism of China-Africa cooperation, about the strong commitment of China and Africa to collaborate in good faith to overcome difficulties, and about the firm resolves of China and Africa to seek a win-win cooperation for common development.

China-Eritrea friendship and cooperation form an important and integral part of China-African relationship. We firmly believe that the Follow-up Actions of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit will be effectively implemented between China and Eritrea and will further promote and deepen China-Eritrea friendly relations and cooperation in all aspects.

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