--Remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Ghana H.E. Mdm. Sun Baohong at the Dialogue Series of the College of Humanities of the University of Ghana
(October 19, 2016)
Professor Samuel Agyei-Mensah, Provost of the College of Humanities of the University of Ghana,
Dr. Lloyd Amoah, Acting Director of the Centre for Asian Studies of the University of Ghana,
Colleagues from Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Teachers and Students,
It is a great pleasure for me to attend the Africa-Asia Relations Dialogue at the University of Ghana. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana, I would like to extend my warm congratulations on the convening of this dialogue, and express my appreciation to the great endeavor made by the Centre for Asian Studies of the University of Ghana to promote the development of Asian Studies and Africa-Asia relations.
Asia and Africa, where three fourths of the world population live, were the cradle of human civilization. For half a century, countries and regions in Asia and Africa have participated in the economic globalization, taken full advantages of the global flow of capital and technology as well as the global expansion of industry and trade, building up their economic strengthen and global influence in a swift manner and bringing into being the Four Asian Dragons, Four Asian Tigers, winning prominent places in BRICS and the G20.
China has a saying, "30 years living on the east side of the river, 40 years living on the west side of the river", which tells an interesting folklore. There was a famous general in the Tang Dynasty of ancient China named GUO Ziyi, who was given by the emperor a palatial mansion called "HeDong Fu" on the east side of the river. General Guo's grandson lived a luxurious and profligate life, and used up the great fortune soon after the death of General Guo. Being down and out, General Guo's grandson tried to look for his nanny who fed him 30 years ago. He arrived in a village on the west side of the river and found the nanny's house was full of grain and her family owned lots of horses and cattles. Yet the nanny's son still worked very hard. So General Guo's grandson sought refuge with his nanny's son and became his steward. The nanny's son sighed, "You have enjoyed thirty years of rich life on the east side of the river, but for forty years during the rest of your life you have to depend on others for a living on the west side of the river". Here comes the allusion, which means tendency could be converse after 30 years.
This story contains the simplest truth in the changes of international pattern- the rising of our two continents originates from the unremitting efforts of Asian and African countries and people. The history of Asia-Africa relations is a history of common struggle by developing countries launched against colonists to achieve national independence and prosperity. In 1955, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai led a delegation to attend the Bandung Conference. Adhering to the principles of "Afro-Asian solidarity" and "seeking common ground while putting aside differences", China created the Bandung Spirit featuring "solidarity, friendship and cooperation" together with other Asian and African countries. Over more than 60 years, regardless of the ever-changing international situation or the fluctuating world economy, the spirit of the Bandung Conference has always guided the development of Asia-Africa relations. When Chinese President H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping attended the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Bandung Conference in 2015, he called for Asian and African countries to stand together through thick and thin, and jointly build a community of common destiny, which spoke out the heartfelt wishes of Asian and African countries. The "Belt and Road" initiative carried forward by China also opens up a new prospect for Asia-Africa cooperation.
Today, I will focus on China-Africa cooperation and share my views on the further development of China-Africa relations.
China-Africa relations have a long history. As early as 3,000 years ago, Chinese silk had been taken to Africa. In the early 15th century, the great navigator Zheng He in the Ming Dynasty led seven maritime expeditions to western seas, and arrived at the east coast of Africa twice. In the 19th century, Chinese workers were trafficked to South Africa for gold mining and railway construction. After the founding of new China, China actively supported the cause of African independence and national liberation. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway and the AU Conference Centre aided by China become monuments of China-Africa friendship. African countries including Ghana supported China to restore its legitimate seat in UN, while China always upholds justice in the international fora such as United Nations for African brothers and safeguards the interests of developing countries. In 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) carried forward China-Africa relations onto the path of institutionalized cooperation, and into a new phase of comprehensive development. At the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC last December, China decided to upgrade China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, proposed to build five pillars of China-Africa relations and "China-Africa Ten Major Cooperation Plans", and committed US$60 billion funding support to Africa.
China-Africa cooperation on economy and trade is continuously moving forward with strong internal impetus. China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for 7 continuous years, and more than 3,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa, contributing a large amount of taxes and jobs to the local society. Since the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC, 245 new contracts worth of over US$50 billion have been signed between China and African countries. I know that everyone follows with great interest the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway, which connects the capitals of Ethiopia and Djibouti. It was inaugurated on 5th this month. This railway, which used Chinese loans and technology and is the first fully electrified modern railway in Africa with China's construction standard, successfully narrows the logistics time between two cities from 3 days to 10 hours. Many experts of western companies asserted that this kind of railway is a "mission impossible". But due to the strength and wisdom of Chinese and African engineers and workers, the railway was completed in only three years. I heard that, in Djibouti, the so-called "Boiling Pot", Chinese technicians lived outdoors to survey the railway route and worn out a pair of shoes every 5 days. I also heard that, the railway undertook the task of carrying emergency food aid to famine-stricken people of Ethiopia before the formal operation. In this sense, the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway is a lifeline of East Africa, and a way to achieve development and prosperity. After the TAZARA, China writes down another legend in China-Africa cooperation.
China-Africa people-to-people and cultural cooperation mechanism has been further improved with ever-deepening non-governmental exchanges. The cultural and people-to-people exchanges brands such as "China-Africa People-to-People Friendship Action", "China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program", "China-Africa Media Communication Centre" and "China-Africa Cultural Cooperation Partnership Program", actively promote the people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Africa. Under these brands, the Chinese Embassy in Ghana has built "China-Ghana Friendship ICT Classrooms" in five regions of Ghana, and will aid three more this year. The remotest ICT classroom is located only 15km from the border area of Ghana, Burkina Faso and Togo. Fujian Acrobatic Troupe, Jiangxi Culture Exchange Group and Chinese National Youth Football Team visited Ghana successfully. The Confucius institutes and Chinese language teaching in Ghana are flourishing, and nearly one thousand students go to China for advanced study every year. Last year, the Chinese side provided 90 government scholarships and more than 700 training opportunities for Ghana. The correspondents from Ghana News Agency, Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times and GTV have received training in China. Exchanges and cooperation between colleges and universities of our two countries are becoming more frequent. I believe that all our friends present here can feel closer China-Ghana relations over the years. This is because "amity between people holds the key to the sound relations between states".
China-Africa peace and security cooperation has developed fast, and China's contribution has attracted worldwide attention. As an old Chinese saying goes, "the biggest benefit comes from peace, and the biggest damage starts from turbulence". At present, the security situation of African continent remains fragile. Adhering to the principle of non-interference of internal affairs, China actively cooperates with the international community, and makes important contribution to the peace and stability of Africa. China is the biggest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Up to now, China has sent 30,000 military personnel, police and civil officials to UN peacekeeping operations. There are more than 3,000 people deployed in 10 peacekeeping missions including South Sudan, Mali, DR Congo and Liberia. In June and July this year, three Chinese soldiers in Mali and South Sudan peacekeeping missions sacrificed their young lives for the cause of peace and stability of Africa. China has also joined the international fight on piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the waters of Somalia. China has sent 60 ships in 21 batches to provide escort service for 6,000-strong Chinese and foreign vessels. Last year, as the rotating presidency of United Nations Security Council, China successfully put the proposal of supporting the countries along the Gulf of Guinea to combat piracy and armed robbery on the UNSC agenda. At the same time, China has actively taken advantage of its good relationship with Africa, and promoted dialogues for political settlement of African hotpot issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
The foundation of China-Africa cooperation is solid, and the prospect is broad. Both sides should make joint efforts to achieve new development of China-Africa relations.
First, the development of China-Africa relations has to be based on the right concept of morality and benefits. Chinese people often say that, " If people make friends by their power,the friendship will break up when the power is lost；If people make friends by money,they will separate when money is gone; Thus only heart-to-heart exchanges can last long". In 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Africa 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. He further proposed the initiative to build community of common destiny between China and Africa at the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC in 2015. China and Africa should carry forward the traditional friendship and translate the strength of our friendship into the driving forces for solidarity, cooperation and development, so as to make greater contribution to a more balanced, just and inclusive world development, and to the building of a new model of international partnership featuring win-win cooperation. China will cherish the fraternal relations with African countries and support each other through thick and thin.
Second, we have to speed up the transformation and upgrading of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. At present, there is a view that "China's economic slowdown encumbers African development", which does not conform to the fact. Since 2015, the international commodity prices have declined and global capital has been drawn back to developed economies, giving birth to the decrease of fiscal and export revenues, currency devaluation and rising debt in some African countries. Both China and Africa are victims of the world economic slowdown. Right now, China's international commodity demand is still strong. In 2015, China imported 953 million tons of iron ore, increasing by 2.2%, and 334 million tons of crude oil, up by 8.8%. The steady development of China's economy has made a great contribution to the economic recovery of Africa and the world. China is willing to share its experience with African countries, provide capital, technology and personnel to support Africa's industrialization, promote cooperation on key areas such as production capacity, equipment manufacturing, and help Africa realize industrialization and sustainable development. We need to upgrade our pragmatic cooperation from normal merchandise trade to investment cooperation, from low-end to high-end industry development, from project contract engineering to international cooperation on industrial capacity.
Third, we have to continue expanding China-Africa non-governmental exchanges and cooperation on peace and security. China-Africa relations are rooted in the traditional friendship between our two peoples, and are developed through increasingly frequent people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The non-governmental organizations have the great power to promote China-Africa friendship, public communication and cooperation on people's livelihood, and carry forward the main theme of China-Africa friendship to build a favorable atmosphere and environment of public opinion for the development of the comprehensive and strategic cooperative partnership. To further promote China-Africa people-to-people and cultural exchanges, China will build five cultural centers in Africa, provide satellite TV reception to 10,000 African villages, provide to Africa 2,000 educational opportunities with diplomas or degrees and 30,000 government scholarships, sponsor visits by 200 African scholars and study trips by 500 young Africans to China, train 1,000 media professionals from Africa every year, and support the opening of more direct flights between China and Africa to boost our tourism cooperation.
China-Africa cooperation on peace and security has a huge potential. We support African people take initiatives in addressing African issues and highlight the leading role of AU and other sub-regional organizations in maintaining peace and security in Africa. China is committed to the stability and peace cause of Africa and always advocates to solve problems through dialogue. China has pledged to provide US$60 million of military grant to support the building and operation of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for the Immediate Response to Crisis. China will continue to participate in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and support African countries' capacity building in areas such as defense, counter-terrorism, riot prevention, customs and immigration control.
Fourth, we will improve the mechanism of FOCAC. The establishment of FOCAC has promoted the development of Africa's economy and also increased the international status of Africa as a whole. There are a good number of Africa-related cooperation mechanisms in the world. But I would like to say proudly that FOCAC is more pragmatic and efficient, and puts more emphasis on the implementation as well as mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation. President Xi jinping said, " One action counts more than a dozen programs". With the joint efforts of both sides, the development goals and commitment proposed at all prior meetings have been fully implemented. The Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC has put forward higher requirements on implementation capacity. China needs not only to enhance internal coordination mechanism, but also to strengthen the alignment of development strategies with African countries. All the Chinese Ambassadors on this continent are working hard for this goal.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
"If a man walks every day, he will not fear thousands of miles; If a man works every minute, he will not fear thousands of things". To further develop China-Africa relations, advance our cooperation, and improve mechanisms, we need to work together. As Chairman Mao Zedong said, "Ten thousand years are too long, seize the day, seize the hour!" I hope that African and Ghanaian friends can have a sense of urgency to catch every minute. I hope that you will give full play to your own initiative and participate into the torrent of China-Africa cooperation. I hope that think-tanks of China and African countries will play a more important role in strengthening studies of Asia-Africa and China-Africa relations, promoting the development of exchange of governance experience between China and Africa, and actively offering advice and suggestions to uplift the China-Africa and China-Ghana relations to a new height.