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Chinese Foreign Policy and its Impact on Africa
--Remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Ghana Sun Baohong at Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College
2016/05/20
 

(16 May 2016)

Respected Air Vice Marshall Issifu Sakib Kadri,

Faculty members, Student officers from African countries,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to Vice Marshall Kadri for inviting me to deliver a lecture on China's Foreign Policy at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College again. It gives me great pleasure to come to this beautiful college for the second time and exchange views with you.

In June 2014, in my last lecture here, I exchanged in-depth views on China's foreign policy, China-Africa cooperation and other issues with nearly 60 military officers from 22 African countries. The broad vision and high quality of the young African officers left me a deep impression. However, I found that the younger generation in Africa have quite scanty knowledge about China's foreign policy, China-Africa traditional friendship and friendly cooperation, and even some misunderstandings on certain issues. I'd like to take this opportunity to give a full explanation of China's foreign policy and China-Africa cooperation.

China upholds the independent foreign policy of peace

China sticks to an independent foreign policy of peace. Specifically speaking, independence is the basic position of this policy. Preserving independence and sovereignty, as well as promoting world peace and development, are fundamental goals. Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence are basic principles. Strengthening unity and cooperation with the developing countries is the cornerstone. Adhering to opening-up policy and enhancing international exchanges are basic state policies. The establishment of this foreign policy is the historical choice.

The Chinese nation is peace-loving. The culture of He, which means peace and harmony, is the core of the traditional Chinese culture. H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping has once said,"As an important part of Chinese culture, the concept of harmony has a long history and strong appeal. We believe in unity between man and nature, peace among countries, the approach of 'agree to disagree' and the good nature of people…Peace is most precious; treat others with kindness; don't do to others what you don't want others to do to you. These ideas have passed from generation to generation and taken root in the mentality of the Chinese and is reflected in their behavior."

In Chinese history, nearly all schools of thoughts give top priority to peace. Confucianism advocates to inject harmony in individuals, families, states and the world at large through self-cultivation, family management, national governance and establishment of world peace. Taoism believes in "action without action", naturalness, as well as unity and integration between human and nature. Some of you may have heard about The Art of War by Sunzi, a masterpiece of the school of military which gives the most profound interpretation of military strategies. Even the disciples of the school of military are not warmongers. Instead, they insist that "the best policy in war is to thwart enemy's strategy. The second-best is to disrupt his alliances through diplomatic means. The third-best is to attack his army in the field. The lamest of all is to attack a walled city." What they appreciate is to subdue the enemy without fighting. No wonder this book is used as a textbook for business schools after more than 2,000 years.

In history, China was always surrounded by formidable enemies and suffered the invasion of nomadic tribes now and then. But most of the wars waged by the Chinese side were for self-defense. Some of you may have climbed the Great Wall and got the certificate of hero. The Great Wall which snakes across the mountains fully demonstrates the defensive nature of the concept of national defense of ancient China. Ancient China also, through tributary system, assumed some political responsibilities and guaranteed the security of the member countries. Tributary system, built on the basis of the endorsement of China's cultural superiority by the neighboring countries, is a voluntary, mutually-beneficial, sometimes even altruistic arrangement. It reflects some features of the Chinese culture such as "harmony is the most precious", "justice and righteousness are more important than interests".

Ancient China also conducted large-scale business and trade exchanges with East Asia, South Asia and West Europe through land- and sea-based silk roads. As early as 200 B.C., China, which was in the Han Dynasty at that time, exchanged goods indirectly with Africa through silk roads. The Universal Map of Great Ming drawn up in the early Ming Dynasty of China was the first map in the world that depicted Africa, in which Lake Victoria was clearly marked .

In the Ming Dynasty, Mr. Zheng He, the greatest navigator in Chinese history led a colossal fleet composed of over 200 vessels and more than 27,000 crew members and carried out seven maritime expeditions to the Western Seas. He reached four times the eastern coast of Africa, where current Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia are located. Zheng He and his fleet introduced tea, porcelain, silk and advanced technology to the visited regions. What Zheng He took away from Africa was only a giraffe. China has been one of the most powerful countries throughout most of the history, but it has never snatched a piece of colony. Aggression and invasion have never found their seats in mainstream Chinese culture. There is indeed no gene for invasion in Chinese people's blood.

Since modern times, China's overall strength had been on decline and suffered foreign invasions by cannons and warships of western powers. The whole Chinese nation was plunged into deep crisis. Numerous Chinese people launched arduous struggles for national independence and liberation. 35 million Chinese soldiers and civilians died or wounded in WWII and China paid the cost of 100 billion US dollars of direct economic loss and 500 billion US dollars of indirect economic loss, calculated at the exchange rate of 1937. Our beautiful homeland has been reduced to desert, numerous families have been broken, and, at large, the Chinese nation was on the brink of extinction. Learning from history and being fully aware of the value of peace, China chose the independent foreign policy of peace.

Under the guidance of the independent foreign policy of peace, we stick to the path of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening up, and have reaped fruitful achievements in our national development. China is now the world's second largest economy, largest trading nation in goods, largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, third largest outbound investor and largest trading partner for nearly 130 countries. Meanwhile, more than 600 million people have been lifted out of poverty. As the powerhouse for global development and stabilizer of world peace, China's peaceful development has brought about huge opportunities for the world. China's contribution to the economic development of the world, Asia and Africa exceeded 25%, 50% and 20% respectively in 2014. Meanwhile China has continuously contributed its wisdom and proposals in resolving regional and global hot-spot issues and defending world peace and stability.

With the innovation of China's diplomatic theory and practice, the connotation of the independent foreign policy of peace has been continuously enriched. China is on path to a distinctive diplomatic approach befitting its role of a major country with a salient Chinese feature and Chinese vision. The major-country diplomacy theory with Chinese characteristics is designed with five pillars sustaining it: forging a community of common destiny for all mankind is the goal, adhering to peaceful development is the strategic choice, seeking win-win cooperation is the basic principle, establishing partnership is the main pathway, adopting a balanced approach between righteousness and interest is the value. This theory reflects the essence of the traditional Chinese culture, echoes the trends of the times featuring peace, development, cooperation and win-win results, and conforms to the overall interests of mankind.

China is committed to realizing win-win cooperation and common development with Africa

China and Africa enjoy a long-standing friendship and the foundation of our relations is solid. With similar historical experiences, we always show sympathy and support for each other in striving for national independence and development and have forged deep friendship. Africa always holds a special position in the overall strategic layout of China's diplomacy. Under the guidance of China's foreign policy and the initiatives of African countries, China and Africa set up the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), an efficient mechanism of collective dialogue and pragmatic cooperation. China and Africa established during Beijing Summit of FOCAC in 2006 a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges. In the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC last December, the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership was upgraded to a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. Moreover, we set up five major pillars of China-Africa relations and put forward 10 cooperation plans, charting the direction for the development of China-Africa relations in the next 3 years. Under the guidance of mechanism of FOCAC, China-Africa relations are flourishing.

First, China and Africa enjoy frequent high-level exchanges and ever-increasing strategic mutual trust, with in-depth consultations and dialogues in various fields and at different levels. The new Chinese central leadership attaches great importance to China-Africa relations. In 2013, Chinese President H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping visited Tanzania, South Africa and Congo and put forward the guideline on China's relations with Africa featuring sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, as well as a policy of upholding justice and pursuing shared interests. In 2014, Chinese Premier H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang paid another visit to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya and mapped out "461" China-Africa cooperation framework and "Three Networks and Industrialization" projects with Africa. In December 2015, the FOCAC Summit was held in Africa for the first time. Chinese President Xi Jinping and 50 heads of state and government as well as representatives of African nations attended the Summit with the theme of "China and Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development" and outlined the new China-Africa cooperation framework of "1+5+10". Early this year, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Mr. Zhang Dejiang and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Mr. Yu Zhengsheng visited Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya and Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana respectively. The successive Chinese Foreign Ministers have chosen African countries as the destination of their first trip each year for 26 consecutive years. The high level exchanges, which are much like visiting relatives, shore up the political mutual trust between China and Africa. We always understand and support each other on issues concerning other's major and core interests, defending the interests of developing countries effectively.

Second, China-Africa cooperation on economy and trade are booming and fruitful. China-Africa trade volume reached USD 221.96 billion in 2014, making China the largest trade partner of Africa for 6 consecutive years. Around 3,000 Chinese enterprises are investing and developing in Africa, with cooperation areas covering agriculture, mining, construction, resources processing, manufacturing, finance, business and trade logistics, real estate, among others. China-Africa cooperation contributes to 20% of Africa's development for several years and was thereby acclaimed as a model of South-South cooperation by many African leaders.

Assistance to Africa and cooperation on finance and investment is an important part of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. By the end of 2012, China had offered aid to 53 African countries, assisting more that 1,000 set projects with no political strings attached. By the end of 2014, China's stock of investment in Africa has reached USD 32.35 billion, which has consolidated the economic foundation and enhanced the sustainable self-development and competitiveness of Africa. At the Johannesburg Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined the new China-Africa cooperation framework of "1+5+10". Specifically, "1" means the comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Africa, "5" means five pillars sustaining our relations, that is, political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation, mutual learning between Chinese and African civilization, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and coordination in international affairs. "10" means 10 cooperation plans ranging from industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment, poverty reduction, public health, cultural and people-to-people exchanges to peace and security. To ensure the successful implementation of these ten cooperation plans, China pledged to provide a total of USD 60 billion of funding support. These new measures in China-Ghana cooperation focus on resolving the three major livelihood issues including employment, food and clothing and health concerned most by the African people and on breaking the three development bottlenecks of backward infrastructure, insufficient talents and fund shortage, and will add fuel to the sustainable self-development of Africa.

Third, China-Africa cultural and people-to-people exchanges have become increasingly frequent. China is a country with a 5,000-year civilization and has made tremendous contributions to the progress and development of the human race. Africa also boasts a long history and brilliant culture. Being a colorful polar of the human civilization, Africa is the place of origin of the world civilization and has a far-reaching impact on enriching and spreading of the diversified cultures. Cultural exchange is one of the important pillars of the comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and Africa. Since August 2012, China has provided training for a total of 30,173 African personnel. China offered scholarship to a total of 15,126 African students in 2013 and 2014. By the end of 2014, under the framework of "China-Africa People-to-People Friendship Action", 141 projects had been conducted in 49 countries. In 2014, 3,062,400 Chinese citizens chose Africa as their first stop in overseas trips, up by 61.6%. Furthermore, Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping said in the plan on China-Africa cultural and people-to-people exchanges, "China will build five cultural centers in Africa and provide satellite TV reception to 10,000 African villages. We will provide to Africa 2,000 educational opportunities with diplomas or degrees and 30,000 government scholarships. Every year, we will sponsor visits by 200 African scholars and study trips by 500 young Africans to China, and train 1,000 media professionals from Africa. We support the opening of more direct flights between China and Africa to boost our tourism cooperation." The cultural exchanges and mutual learning effectively consolidate the public support for our friendship.

Fourth, China has always been an active participant, supporter and vindicator of Africa's peace and security affairs, and is the contributor of the largest number of peacekeepers to Africa out of the 5 permanent members of UN Security Council. The information on UN website shows that in the past 25 years, 16 out of 24 peacekeeping missions carried out by China were in Africa. In the 9 ongoing UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, China participates in 7. 90% of Chinese peacekeepers stationed overseas are in Africa. Since 2009, China's convoy fleets have joined the international crackdown on piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the waters of Somalia. Till now, China has sent 60 ships in 21 batches, 46 helicopters, 1,300-member special task force and 17,000 officers and soldiers and provided escort service for 6,000-strong Chinese and foreign vessels. Last September, at the UN Peacekeeping Summit, H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to provide free military aid of USD 100 million to the African Union to support the building of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis in the next 5 years. The Chinese government takes an active part in the mediation of hot-spot issues in Africa, such as the relations between Sudan and South Sudan, and the Somalia, South Sudan, and Mali issues, playing a unique role in resolving security issues in Africa.

Experience and enlightments on cooperation with Africa

While bringing tangible benefits to African countries and people, China-Africa cooperation also provides enlightenments and experience on cooperation with Africa to the global community.

First, China-Africa Cooperation has stimulated international cooperation with Africa and inputs to Africa. The African continent has once been labeled "hopeless continent" by the Western countries for being mired in prolonged wars, suffering dilapidated industries and spreading famine. However, when Chinese people come to Africa, they see infinite opportunities and immense developing space. Since the establishment of FOCAC, China-Africa trade volume has risen from USD 11 billion in 2000 to USD 220 billion in 2014. Against the backdrop of the ever-growing China-Africa cooperation, the Western countries begin to "rediscover Africa" and, together with emerging economies such as Brazil, India, Turkey, increase inputs in Africa. Africa's economic growth rate has surpassed the world average for several years. Now Africa is widely acclaimed as a hot spot for investment and a continent of hope.

Second, China always respects the independence of Africa's development while carrying out cooperation with Africa. When I attended a seminar organized by a think-tank in Washington DC during my term there, someone asked me, "Which model should Africa choose in its pursuit of development, the Washington Consensus or the Chinese model?" Well, my answer is "African path should prevail". China is fully aware that African people play their initiative in the development of Africa. In conducting cooperation with Africa, China always supports African countries in finding the development path that conforms to their own national conditions. We never attach political strings, never interfere in domestic affairs of Africa, never impose our wills upon Africa, never issue any empty check in conducting China-Africa cooperation. In dealing with the problems arising in our cooperation, China always seeks to resolve them through negotiation on an equal footing. China's stance is widely acclaimed and welcomed by African countries and people. In the final analysis, the fundamental goal of the Johannesburg Summit is to help Africa realize sustainable self-development.

Third, China always seeks inclusive development in cooperation with Africa. China and Africa have always been a community of shared destinies. A prosperous, stable and integrated Africa is to the best interest of China and the world. We each view the other's development as our own opportunity and pursue win-win cooperation and common development. In conducting cooperation with Africa, China always abides by the guideline on China's relations with Africa featuring sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, as well as the policy of upholding justice and pursuing shared interests. We focus on scaling up the driving force of inner growth of Africa and help it realize sustainable self-development without sacrificing Africa's ecological environment and long-term interests. China sincerely hopes to see Africa diversifies its cooperation partners, welcomes more international input into Africa, and is ready to carry out cooperation schemes in Africa with third parties on the basis of the "Africa-proposed, Africa-agreed and Africa-led" principle.

Fourth, China advocates a new concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in cooperation with Africa. We propose that all countries should make concerted efforts to jointly build a road of shared security that is win-win to all, and abandon the Cold War and zero-sum mentalities. The major countries should, in particular, strengthen cooperation, discard the mentalities of confrontation, resolve the issues besetting the regional and world peace and development through negotiation and cooperation, and should not destabilize the regional situation for their own parochial interests. We support African people in addressing African issues and highlight the leading role that AU and other sub-regional organizations play in maintaining peace and security in Africa. China is committed to the stability and peace cause of Africa and always advocates to settle problems through dialogue.

China-Africa relations have today reached a stage of growth unmatched in history. I sincerely hope that all the officers present today can contribute your share to China-Africa relations and cooperation and jointly create a better future of China-Africa cooperation featuring win-win cooperation and common development!

Thank you!

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