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Ambassador ZHOU Pingjian: Working together to Usher in Another Golden Decade of China-Africa Cooperation

On January 16, 2020, Nigerian newspaper Pilot published an article written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. ZHOU Pingjian. The full text goes as follows:

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi was visiting Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe from January 7 to 13. His first and successful official overseas visit of 2020.

When Foreign Minister Wang was here in Abuja for an official visit from January 11 to 12, 2017, a friend in the media pleasantly reminded me that Nigeria was the only African country which had been paid official visit to by consecutive Chinese Foreign Minsters since 1991.

Indeed, Minister Wang’s four predecessors visited Nigeria in January 1995, January 2000, January 2006, and January 2010, respectively, since 1991.

Why January? Why 1991?

Since January 1991, Africa has been the destination for Chinese Foreign Ministers’ first overseas visits each and every year. This is unique in diplomatic history. China does not change its initial heart and has been doing this ever since. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s recent visit marks the 30th consecutive year of this practice. The continuation of this fine tradition once again speaks volumes about the high priority China consistently attaches to developing its ties with Africa as well as ever stronger China-Africa friendship.

You may wonder why Chinese Foreign Ministers choose Africa for their first visit for 30 years in a row. During his visit in Zimbabwe on January 12, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang shared his observations on this with the media.

First of all, this is based on the special feelings of friendship from generation to generation and sharing weal and woe between China and Africa. China-Africa friendship has a long history. Especially in modern times, the two sides fought together for national independence and liberation, supported each other, formed a brotherly friendship, and became each others' trusted good friend. In the period of development and construction, we joined together again and made progress hand in hand, and became good partners for mutual benefit and win-win progress. For decades, no matter how the international situation have changed, the friendship between China and Africa has become even stronger, and the torch has been handed down on and on. Our relations have stood up to the test, eliminated the disturbance, and become a model for international relations and South-South cooperation.

Second, it is based on the realistic needs of deepening cooperation and common development between China and Africa. China is the largest developing country, and Africa is the continent where developing countries are most concentrated. We are natural partners, complementary to each other’s advantages, and have unlimited cooperation space and potential. In recent years, we have achieved results such as the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the consensus of building a community with a shared future, the co-construction of “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and China-Africa pilot projects for production capacity cooperation, and so on. All of which have brought groundbreaking influence in the history of China-Africa relations, and helped push China-Africa cooperation into a new era. China is full of confidence in the prospects for Africa's development, full of confidence in the future of China-Africa cooperation, and will promote China-Africa cooperation to be in the frontline of international cooperation with Africa.

Third, it is based on the important mission of strengthening international cooperation and safeguarding common interests between China and Africa. Nowadays, the world is becoming less peaceful, especially in recent years, unilateralism and power politics prevailed, the Cold War mentality is overflowing. Developing countries including Africa have suffered greatly from this. There is an urgent need to strengthen communication and coordination between China and Africa, reveal the power of solidarity, send a common voice, safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese and African people to oppose outside interference, pursue fairness and justice, and lead a better life.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The FOCAC has now become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa, maintaining a leading position in international cooperation with Africa. The 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit was a great success, leaders of China and Africa side unanimously decided to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future, defining the general direction of joint efforts.

Over the past 20 years, China has consistently adhered to China-Africa cooperation, adhered to the correct concept of justice and benefit, and is committed to cooperation and common development. We have always insisted on non-interference in internal affairs, no political conditions, and never forcing others to do anything difficult, and we have always paid attention to listening to the voices of Africa, respected Africa’s will, and been in line with Africa’s needs. Chinese workers sweat, work hard and make progress with their African brothers. China’s cooperation with Africa has gone deep into the grass-roots, rural areas and fields. These are what those countries that intend to discredit China-Africa cooperation cannot do at all and what they are unwilling to do. That is the fundamental reason why China-Africa cooperation is welcomed by African countries and appreciated by the African people.

Both China and Nigeria are major developing countries of great influence in the world. As the largest developing country in the world, China highly values its strategic partnership with Nigeria, the largest developing country in Africa. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971 and strategic partnership in 2005 in particular, the all-round, wide-ranging and high-quality bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria has been a pace-setter for China-Africa cooperation. In recent years, thanks to the strategic guidance and personal commitment of President Xi Jinping and President Buhari, China and Nigeria have significantly enhanced political trust and secured fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation. China-Nigeria relations are at their best time in history and face new opportunities of growth.

At the beginning of a new decade, China stands ready to work with Africa to speed up the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, promote high quality BRI development, deepen practical cooperation in various fields and jointly build a closer community with a shared future for China and Africa.

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