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Strengthen Solidarity, Enhance Cooperation and Pursue Common Development ---- By Zhu Rongji, Premier of the State Council, 12 October 2000
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Your Excellency President Abdelaziz Bouteflika,


Your Excellency Mr. Salim,


Honourable Ministers,


Distinguished Guests and Dear Friends,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Thanks to our joint efforts, the three-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation-Ministerial Conference Beijing 2000 has achieved a complete success. I would like to express, on behalf of the Chinese Government, our warm congratulations to the Forum and heartfelt thanks to all those who have actively participated in and supported the Forum.


The Forum is and event unprecedented in the history of China-Africa relations, during which ministers from over 40 African countries and about 20 regional organizations and their Chinese colleagues have had extensive consultations and discussions, on an equal footing, on major international issues of mutual interest and on the important question of China-Africa cooperation. Beijing Declaration and Programme for China-Africa Cooperation in Economic and Social Development, the two documents to be adopted by the Forum, present a blueprint for future cooperation between China and Africa and will guide this cooperation in all fields into a new stage. This Forum marks an important milestone and will inevitably enter the glorious annals of China- Africa friendship and cooperation.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Mankind is about to enter a new era. It is therefore more imperative and important than ever for China and Africa to strengthen their cooperation in all fields.


Economic and trade cooperation constitutes a crucial part of our cooperation. Our closer cooperation in this area will enable us to give full play to our respective advantages, speed up our economic development and help us to shake off poverty and backwardness to the benefit of all our peoples. It will also help us to increase our international competitiveness and build up our capacity against possible risks, which will put us in a better position to participate in economic globalization and safeguard our economic interests and economic security Furthermore, it will help deepen and expand South-South cooperation and improve the standing of the developing countries in North-South dialogue so as to facilitate the establishment of a fair and rational new international political and economic order. In a word, it is the common desire of both the Chinese and African people, an inevitable requirement of evolution of history and a strong call of the times for progress to enhance China-Africa economic cooperation and trade.


This cooperation between us has broad prospects. Africa, on the one hand, boasts hardworking and talented people, abundant natural resources and great market and development potentials. China, on the other, has got considerable economic strength, a promising market and a wealth of commodities, managerial expertise and production technologies suitable to African countries. More importantly, there is a solid political foundation for such cooperation. As developing countries, we have common interests and needs. The road towards friendship and cooperation is covered with footprints of Chinese and African leaders of several generations and thereon stand monuments to the joint struggle waged by the Chinese and African peoples shoulder by shoulder. Over the decades and particularly since the beginning of the 1990s, this cooperation between China and Africa has steadily expanded and substantiated. We have created new forms of cooperation and accumulated a wealth of valuable experience in this regard. I am convinced that as long as we all try to learn from each other's strong points to make up for our deficiencies, the economic cooperation and trade will yield even more fruits.


In approaching the new century, we should work hard to open up new dimensions for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. We should go along with the trend of the times, have new thinking and open up new areas for the economic and trade cooperation according to the principles of "equality and mutual benefit, diversity in form, stress on practical results and pursuit of common development". We should enhance and upgrade this cooperation by orienting ourselves towards market and improving coordination between governments and enterprises with the latter being the main players. Now, we should take concrete steps and effective measures to implement what has been agreed upon at this Forum.


Continue to expand imports and exports. Over the years, the bilateral trade between China and African countries has been growing steadily, but its total volume is not big enough. We all need to further open our markets, remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and create better market access conditions for each other. The Chinese Government will encourage Chinese enterprises to give preference to African goods in its import when all other conditions being equal and the in the light of the demand on its domestic market with a view to a trade balance between China and Africa.


Vigorously develop investment cooperation. The Chinese side will set up special funds and take other incentive measures to encourage its strong and credit-worthy enterprises to make investments in African countries to set up export-oriented processing industries, explore natural resources, launch projects with marketable products and good economic returns, and carry ort transnational business operations. African businesses are also sincerely welcome to invest and operate in China. Both sides should try to foster a sound investment environment. Meanwhile, China will continue to strengthen and improve its cooperation with African countries in engineering projects and take part in their economic development and project development through project contracting, technological cooperation, management cooperation and labor cooperation among others.


Improve the work of China's assistance to African countries. China never attaches any political string to its assistance to Africa or seeks any political privilege in doing so. China will continue to offer, within its means, assistance to African countries, including assistance gratis, concessional loans and interest-free loans through project cooperation, technological cooperation and other means. With the deepening of the reform of the modality of its foreign assistance and an increase in its economic strength, China will offer better terms for its concessional loans and improve the mechanism of its assistance to Africa under the new situation to make its assistance better serve the need of the development of the African countries concerned. Apart from China's efforts to increase and improve its assistance, the effective coordination of African countries is also necessary for the assistance to generate greater economic and social benefits.


Expand the cooperation in various fields. Efforts should be made to constantly increase and improve the cooperation between China and African countries in agriculture, transportation, medical care and public health, the exploration and exploitation of natural resources, banking, information technology and other areas. We should particularly deepen our cooperation in the development of human resources, science and technology, education and other areas. China will set up a Foundation for Human Resources Development in Africa, specifically for the purpose of training professionals for African countries. In addition, we should enhance our cooperation and consultations in multilateral and regional organizations in order to safeguard the interests of both sides.


Work together to facilitate the settlement of the African debt issue. As a developing country and a net debtor, China understands your deep concerns over the debt issue and deeply sympathizes with you. To reduce African debt is not only what the international community should do to fulfil its responsibilities and obligations, but also a necessary condition for the humanity to achieve common prosperity and progress in the new century, Though the African debt to China is really not much compared with the bulk of its debts, we in China are, nevertheless, ready to do our utmost to lighten its debt burden. We sill implement, in real earnest, the debt-reduction measures announced at this Forum. At the same time, we will continue to urge main creditor states and institutions to honor their commitments and take concrete actions for an early solution to this issue.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


We have just celebrated the 51st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the past51 years and particularly in the 20-some years since the launching of the reform and opening-up program, earthshaking changes have taken place in China. Practice has told us that the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only way that will lead China to its prosperity and strength. We will continue to work hard and unswervingly to build up the country. We have just had the Fifth Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The Session, which was closed yesterday, adopted the Suggestions on the Formulation of the Tenth Five-Year plan for National Economic and Social Development, a document that has identified an all-round plan for China's reform, opening up and modernization drive in the coming five years. In the new century, China will unfold its economic development campaign on a large scale and on a new basis and will press ahead with its reform and opening-up. A vigorous and prosperous China will not only bring about more benefits to the thousands of millions of the Chinese people, but also contribute to closer economic and trade cooperation and friendly exchanges between China and African countries.


As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "Distance tests the endurance of a horse and time reveals the heart of a person". Over the past five decades and more, China-Africa cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields has developed steadily and the friendship between the Chinese and African peoples has grown deeper and deeper with each passing day in spite of the vicissitudes in the international arena. Under the new conditions, China and Africa will stand together through thick and thin, close ranks, enhance cooperation and seek common development. Together, we will surly make greater contribution to the lofty cause of world peace and development.

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