China is the largest developing country and the African continent is home to the largest number of developing countries.
China-Africa friendship was born in the formidable years of national liberation and is deeply rooted in our peoples’ heart.
20 years ago, embracing the dawn of the new century and the trend of globalization, China and African countries decided to hold the first ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to promote win-win cooperation and pursue the goal of common development, which marked the birth of FOCAC. Since then, the family of China and African nations has had its own platform for collective dialogue and mechanism for practical cooperation, ushering in a brand-new chapter in China-Africa relations.
Over the past 20 years, FOCAC has bolstered high-level interactions and political trust between China and Africa, delivering a leap in China-Africa relations from “a new type of partnership” to “a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership”. China and Africa have, under FOCAC, co-hosted three summits and seven ministerial conferences, and reached a full range of important consensuses which have been implemented with great achievements. As Chinese and African leaders both agreed to build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future, the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit represented a broader prospect for this partnership.
The past 20 years have witnessed expansive and fruitful cooperation within the framework of FOCAC. Trade and investment have been growing at a higher speed, with China-Africa trade up by nearly 20 times and Chinese direct investment in Africa up by nearly 100 times. Infrastructure cooperation has become the highlight.
A host of projects such as railways, roads, ports, power stations, hospitals, schools, stadiums and conference centers have not only changed the outlook of Africa but also empowered the people on this continent. People-to-people exchanges have made impressive achievements, with about 120,000 Chinese government scholarships and tens of thousands of training opportunities provided to African students, officials, scholars and skill workers. China has also dispatched a total of 21,000 medical workers to Africa, who have so far treated 200 million patients.
China and Botswana enjoy longstanding friendship, and our bilateral relations have benefited greatly from FOCAC.
In 2018 when President Masisi paid a state visit to China and attended the FOCAC Beijing Summit, China-Botswana relations have ushered in a new era. Guided by the “Eight Major Initiatives” proposed at the Beijing Summit, China and Botswana have signed agreements and MOUs in such areas as mutual visa exemption; economic, trade, investment and technical cooperation; as well as human resources development. China-aided projects such as Mmopane Primary School and Kazungula Primary School are in smooth progress.
And Botswana beef export to China is just around the corner. In the face of COVID-19, China and Botswana have joined hands to fight against the pandemic. With batches of medical supplies provided to Botswana and the arrival of the 16th Chinese Medical Team, China has supported Botswana’s COVID-19 response with concrete actions, which has been applauded by Botswana people from all walks of life.
20 years have unfolded rapidly, and history has come to a new starting point.
FOCAC has grown into an important and dynamic platform for China and Africa to carry out collective dialogues, an effective mechanism for practical cooperation, and a model of upholding multilateralism, achieving mutual benefit and promoting South-South cooperation.
Faced with the world’s profound changes unseen in a century, China and Africa, as good friends, partners and brothers, as important forces for world peace and development, need to stay united and work more closely together.
I am convinced that with our joint efforts, FOCAC is sure to deliver more for the 2.6 billion Chinese and African people in the course of building an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
*H.E. Dr. Zhao Yanbo is the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana