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A Brief Introduction to the China—Africa Forum on Cooperation

After the ending of the cold war, profound changes have taken place in the international situation. Political polarization is developing in a tortuous manner and the economic globalization speeds up its pace.  Meanwhile, power politics and hegemonism still exist, the gap between the south and north and the poor and rich keep widening thus hampering the sovereignty, security and development of the broad developing countries. The common issues such as how to meet the challenges, safeguard their own legitimate rights are over the horizon for all the developing countries to reflect upon at the turn of the century.  China and Africa enjoy traditional and friendly cooperative relations.  It is the wish of both sides to strengthen consultation and coordination and promote unity and cooperation. Judging from the fact stated above, the Chinese Government proposed to convene “China—Africa Forum on Cooperation—Ministerial Meeting, Beijing 2000” from October 10th to 12th in Beijing in accordance with the suggestions of some African nations. There are two topics on the Forum Agenda: A. How to push ahead with the establishment of a fair and just new international political and economic order in the 21st century so as to safeguard the common interests of the developing countries.  B. How to promote China-Africa economic and trade cooperation under the new circumstance. The aim of the forum is “ conducting equal consultation, broadening common consensus, increasing mutual understanding, strengthening friendship and promoting cooperation”.  Foreign ministers and foreign cooperation and trade ministers from more than 40 African countries, which have diplomatic ties with China, will attend the Forum.  Representatives from some international and regional organizations and institutions will also be present as guests. In addition, we also welcome the participation of entrepreneurs from African nations in the Forum.

Last October, President Jiang Zhemin in his letter to the heads of African nations and the Secretary-general of OAU, formally made the proposal of convening the said Forum, which has garnered warm reception and enthusiastic response. To follow up, the Chinese side has established the preparatory committee composed of 18 ministries with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation as the anchormen. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and Minister Shi Guangshen of MOFTEC are the honorary Co-chairmen of the preparatory committee and Vice Foreign Minister Ji Peiding and Vice Minister of MOFTEC Sun Guangxiang act as the Co-chairmen of the committee. Under the committee, there is the secretariat in charge of the routine preparatory work.

In order to guarantee that the African countries will also contribute to the preparatory work of the Forum and demonstrate the common vision of the two sides, China, following the principle of being democratic and open, has contacted and discussed with African countries on details of the Forum at various levels and through different channels.  At present, with the joint efforts of the two sides, China and Africa have reached consensus and made arrangement for a series of problems. Now the preparatory work is being carried out in full swing as planed.

Considering time is limited, the Forum will have the general conference and the branch meeting to be carried out in conjunction with each other. In the general conference, representatives of each country will focus their speech on the two topics of the Forum.  At the same time, the branch meeting will conduct its own discussions on different topics at different time schedule which is just like an research forum with topics concerning the cooperation between China and Africa in the fields of economy and trade and in other sectors as well.  President Jiang Zhemin and Premier Chu Ronji will attend the opening and closing ceremonies and make speeches respectively.

Apart from that, the Forum will arrange meetings between the officials of African delegations and the Chinese entrepreneurs so as to jointly explore ways of expanding economic and trade cooperation. To enable the African friends to know more about China, visits to Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen will be undertaken after the conclusion of the Forum.

The Forum will work out two documents, i.e. “Beijing Declaration” and “the Program for Social and Economic Development and Cooperation between China and Africa”. The “Declaration” will focus on the common consensus on major international and political issues of the two sides while the “Cooperation Program” stress on the vision, plans and steps of the two sides for further strengthening their cooperation in all fields.

The Forum is a significant attempt for both China and Africa in conducting collective dialogue and seek common development at the turn of the century. The Forum is the first of its kind not only in the history of the Sino-African relations but also in its 50-year diplomacy of new China. The successful convening of the Forum will produce positive effect on the further promotion of the friendly cooperative relations between China and Africa, the development of South and South cooperation and the establishment of a fair and just new international economic and political order.  

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