In October of 2000, Beijing played host to the China-Africa Forum on Cooperation-Ministerial Meeting, an event organized to address globalization and enhance cooperation between China and African countries. Attendees included Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, Shi Guangsheng of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, 80 ministers in charge of foreign affairs and international trade and economic cooperation from 45 African countries that have diplomatic relations with China, and other representatives. Malawi and Liberia, two countries without diplomatic relations with China, also sent representatives as observers to the meeting. The attendance reached 500.
China and Africa's new order
The meeting reached a broad consensus about establishing a fair and just international political and economic order in the 21st century, and discussed how to promote Sino-African economic and trade cooperation. The creation of two official documents, Beijing Declaration of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and Sino-African Cooperation Guidelines for Social and Economic Development, came out of the two-day discussions. Both documents lay the framework for China and Africa to build long-standing, stable and mutually beneficial new relations.
Since the meeting, China and Africa have followed closely to the forum's follow-up action. China established a committee consisting of 21 government departments in December of 2000, co-chaired by leaders of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. The committee's secretariat is the Department of African Affairs and is in charge of coordination and handling of day-to-day affairs of the forum. Ethiopia, Gabon, Sudan and Zambia also established follow-up action organizations.
In the past three years, implementation efforts on both sides have been hugely successful. Since October 2000, 30 leaders of African Countries visited China and the former president Jiang Zemin and ex-premier Zhu Rongji have both visited Africa. China reduced debts of 31 African countries, which contributed greatly to the economic and social development of these countries.
Trade between China and Africa continues to rapidly increase. In 2000, the total volume of bilateral trade was more than US$10 billion, a six-fold increase from 1991. The bilateral trade volume of January to July of 2003 reached US$10.253 billion. The Chinese government encourages Chinese enterprises to invest and trade in Africa, as the demonstrated and potential growth is sure to aid both sides. In the past three years, China has also trained 7,000 African people for professions aiding African economic and social development.
The China-Africa Cooperation Forum is an important platform for dialogue and strengthening solidarity and cooperation. In April of 2002, the Procedures on the Follow-up Mechanism of China-Africa Cooperation Forum passed by China and Africa officially went into effect. According to the document, China and Africa should alternatively hold ministerial level forum meetings every three years, and hold high-level official meetings one year prior to ministerial meetings
Looking to the future
From December 15 to 16, 2003, Ethiopia's capital Addis-Ababa will be the scene of the ministerial meeting of the Second China-Africa Forum on Cooperation, with Ethiopia and China co-presiding the meeting.
The gathering will address the implementation of the Beijing Declaration of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation and Sino-African Cooperation Guidelines for Social and Economic Development as well as human resource development, agriculture, infrastructure, investment and trade. The underlying theme will be the pragmatic and cooperative China-Africa Cooperation Forum-Addis Ababa Action Plan（2004-2006），which will lay out and deploy Chinese and African cooperation in political, economic, trade and social development areas.
On this, the first time the forum's ministerial level meeting is to be held on the African continent, it will be attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi. Foreign ministers and ministers in charge of international economic cooperation from member countries of the forum will head their respective delegations.
China and Ethiopia will also jointly hold China-Africa Business Conference, for which China will organize 100 enterprises interested in Africa to discuss the business opportunities though cooperation with African entrepreneurs.
(China.org.cn December 11, 2003)