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Wen Calls for More Help for Africa

Chinese and African leaders attending the Second Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation yesterday expressed their common desire to further strengthen economic and trade relations.

"China has taken further measures to increase imports from African countries, and the China-Africa two-way trade is increasing by more than 20 percent (annually),'' said Premier Wen Jiabao during the conference's opening ceremony. He is paying a three-day official visit to Ethiopia.

Wen said the two sides should strengthen high-level exchanges through regular leadership meetings and dialogue within the framework of the forum.

China will continue to urge the international community to help African countries settle conflicts, participate in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa and provide assistance to the peacekeeping efforts by African regional organizations.

Wen said Africa and China share a common interest in the further democratization of international relations. This should be achieved through more intense consultations, Wen added.

At the same time, China supports Africa's position on multilateralism.

Wen called on developing countries to meet the challenges of globalization together.

Developed countries, for their part, should take up their obligations to developing countries by eliminating trade barriers and farm subsides.

Under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, China will increase its aid to Africa, further open its domestic market and grant duty-free market access to some commodities from the least developed countries in Africa, Wen said.

For example, China will increase its investment to the Africa Human Resources Development Fund by 33 percent and provide professional training to 10,000 African personnel in the next three years, Wen said.

To accelerate tourism co-operation with Africa, China will grant eight more African countries, including Kenya and Zimbabwe, approved destination status for outbound Chinese tourists, Wen disclosed.

Expressing appreciation towards China's support for Africa's development, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the Chinese Government should be commended for taking significant steps to cancel debt of 31 African countries.

"China's exemplary endeavor to ease African countries' debt problem is indeed a true expression of solidarity and commitment,'' he said.

Delegates from China and 44 African countries attended yesterday's meeting, including national leaders from 13 African countries and ministers in charge of foreign affairs and international trade.

The following is the full text of the speech by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening ceremony of the second ministerial conference of China-Africa Cooperation Forum Monday in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia:

Your Excellency Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Your Excellencies the Heads of State and Government, Your Excellency Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare of the AU Commission, Your Excellencies the Heads of National Delegations, Ministers and Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,     

It is my great pleasure to come to Addis Ababa and join our African friends at the Second Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in identifying the way forward for closer China-Africa cooperation.

As Premier of China, the Co-Chair country of this Conference, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, my warmest welcome to all delegates, and express my heartfelt thanks to the Ethiopian Government for its commendable efforts and thoughtful arrangements which have made this meeting possible.

Three years ago, Chinese and African ministers gathered in Beijing and jointly launched the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, ushering in a new era of cooperation between China and African nations. The past three years since then have witnessed steady growth and remarkable achievements of cooperation between China and Africa on all fronts. Our friendship and mutual trust are stronger and deeper. Our cooperation on international affairs has been constructive and fruitful. Our trade and economic cooperation are growing with a more robust momentum.

China on its part has taken further measures to increase its imports from African countries, and China-Africa two-way trade is increasing by more than 20 percent. A total of 117 new China-invested enterprises are up and running in Africa, and our bilateral cooperation in energy development and hi-tech industries is getting off the ground. Our cooperation in human resources development is on the upswing. China has sponsored a variety of training programs and trained nearly 7,000 African personnel of a wide range of professions. The Chinese Government has fulfilled ahead of schedule its debt exemption commitments and canceled 31 African countries' debts totaling 10.5 billion RMB yuan. The Forum follow-up activities have been implemented as a strong support to the brotherly African nations and people in their endeavors to overcome difficulties and realize national rejuvenation and development, testifying to the broad prospect and strong vitality of China-Africa friendship and cooperation under the new historical conditions.

Despite the complex and profound changes of the present day world, peace and development remain the themes of our time. The people of the world share the aspiration for peace, stability and development. But hegemonism is raising its ugly head. Regional conflicts are going on unabated. And non-traditional security problems, such as terrorism, communicable diseases, environmental degradation and aggravating poverty, have become more prominent. Economic globalization while bringing development opportunities to all nations, is also posing unprecedented challenges to the developing world. The widening gap between the North and the South and between the rich and the poor makes it all the more difficult for developing nations, particularly African nations, to maintain economic security and achieve sustainable development.

The rapid advancement of science and technology and the ever deepening of economic globalization are bringing nations closer and making countries more inter-connected. Given such situation, how to build a world where all nations shall be winners and where dialogue, cooperation and mutual benefit shall prevail is an important, urgent and practical issue before us all. It is all too clear that world peace and development cannot possibly be sustained if the North-South divide grows wider and developing nations go poorer. The international community must therefore devote more care, pay more attention and give more understanding towards African nations, who are faced with special daunting challenges in the process of economic globalization The international community must provide more and tangible support and assistance to the African governments and people, and must help African nations to develop on their own.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

China is the largest developing country, and Africa the largest developing continent. China-Africa cooperation is part and parcel of South-South cooperation. It is an unshakable policy of the new Chinese Government to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with African countries and other developing nations. We are ready to work with African countries to further develop and strengthen our new-type partnership featuring long-term stability, equality and mutual benefit and all-round cooperation, so as to make it a paragon of South-South cooperation. It is our belief that China-Africa cooperation should be substantiated with more actions, and should contribute to the economic and social development of African countries and their efforts to improve people's livelihood.

Under such a principle, I would like to make the following proposals on how to further promote China-Africa relations:

1. Promote further development of China-Africa traditional friendship through mutual support. The Chinese Government is ready to further expand high-level exchanges between the two sides, and provide new impetus to China-Africa friendly relations and the mechanism of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum through regular leadership meetings and dialogues. China supports African countries in establishing the African Union, implementing the program of New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and promoting the process of regional and sub-regional integration and cooperation. The Chinese Government will continue to urge the international community, the United Nations in particular, to take all necessary measures to support African countries and regional organizations in their efforts to settle conflicts. China will continue to participate in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, and provide assistance to the peacekeeping efforts of African regional organizations.

2. Promote democratization of international relations through intensified consultation. China and Africa share the same goal and interests in promoting democratization of international relations. We support Africa's position on multilateralism. The international community should intensify consultation, work to maintain a diversified world, and facilitate mutual exchanges and emulation among different civilizations and modes of development. We stand for the observance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and the safeguarding of the authority of the UN and its leading role in handling major international issues.As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will always stand side by side with developing countries in Africa and other parts of the world, and support their legitimate requests and reasonable propositions.

3. Jointly meet the challenges of globalization through coordination of positions. We maintain that the developing countries should benefit from the process of globalization, instead of being marginalized. The international community should take steps to help them overcome difficulties, and enhance their capacity for self-improvement, environmental protection and sustainable development. The developed countries have the obligation and responsibility to further open their markets, eliminate trade barriers and farm subsidies, and earnestly fulfill their commitments to developing countries through more aid and debt relief. The Chinese Government supports and will actively participate in the North-South dialogue. China is ready to coordinate its positions with African countries in the process of international economic rules formulation and multilateral trade negotiations, with a view to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries.

4. Turn a new page in China-Africa friendly relations through enhanced cooperation. To facilitate pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa, the Chinese Government will gradually increase its aid to Africa under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. We will further open our market, and grant duty-free market access for some of the commodities from the least developed countries in Africa. We will increase our capital investment to the African Human Resources Development Fund by 33 percent, and provide professional training of various kinds to 10,000 African personnel in the next three years. We will encourage and facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation between Chinese and African enterprises, and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa. To step up our tourism cooperation with Africa, China will grant eight more African countries the status of approved destination for outbound Chinese tourists. We propose to stage a "China-Africa Youth Festival" and grand Africa-themed cultural exchange activities in China next year. We will vigorously cooperate with African countries in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, in the prevention of natural disasters and in environmental protection.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

Thanks to more than 20 years of reform and opening-up, China has made a historic breakthrough in economic development and aggregate national strength. The Chinese people as a whole are living a better life. But China has a huge population of 1.3 billion, and even though its total economic volume is among the largest in the world, in per capita terms, it is still quite low. China is a big country with uneven development and relatively low overall productivity level. We still have a long way to go before the goal of modernization is accomplished. Against such background,the assistance China can provide to African countries is limited. However, we do offer our assistance with the deepest sincerity and without any political conditions. It is our firm belief that support and help between countries are mutual, and we will never forget the invaluable support China has received from African countries over the years in our endeavors to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are ready to continue such sincere cooperation as always.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

China and Africa together have more than one-third of the world's population. The friendly cooperation between us in the promotion of development and reinvigoration of our own nations is in itself a significant contribution to world peace and development. Let us, under the new circumstances, join hands to build on our past achievements and bring China-Africa friendly cooperation to a new high.

I wish the Ministerial Conference a complete success.

Thank you.

(China Daily and Xinhua News Agency, December 15, 2003)

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