The establishment of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum three years ago has ushered in a new era of cooperation between China and African nations, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said in Addis Ababa Monday.
"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," the premier said at the opening ceremony of the Second Ministerial Conference of the forum.
Wen said China has taken further measures to increase its imports from African countries, and that trade volume between China and Africa has been increasing at an annual rate of more than 20 percent.
Over the last three years, China has also invested 117 new enterprises in Africa. Sino-African cooperation in energy development and hi-tech industries is getting off the ground, he said.
Sino-African 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 premier said.
"The Chinese government has fulfilled ahead of schedule its debt exemption commitments and canceled 31 African countries' debts totaling 10.5 billion RMB yuan," Wen said.
"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," he said.
The Second Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum kicked off in Addis Ababa Monday morning, aiming to greatly improve the all-around cooperation between China and African countries.
Highlighted by the action-oriented spirit, it is the first ministerial conference of the forum to be held on the African continent, and will be a significant event in the Sino-African relationship.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, his host counterpart Meles Zenawi and a dozen of African heads of state or government attended the opening ceremony.
Also present are Chinese and African foreign ministers and ministers in charge of international economic cooperation.
China to increase aid to Africa under cooperation forum framework
In order 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, Premier Wen said.
China will further open its market, and grant duty-free market access for some of the commodities from the least developed countries in Africa, Wen noted.
Wen said "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."
China will encourage and facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation between Chinese and African enterprises, and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa, according to Wen.
"To step up our tourism cooperation with Africa, China will grant eight more African countries the status of approved destination for outbound Chinese tourists," Wen announced.
"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," Wen added.
Int'l community urged to help developing countries benefit from globalization
The international community should take steps to help the developing countries overcome difficulties and benefit from the process of globalization, Premier Wen said.
"We maintain that the developing countries should benefit from the process of globalization, instead of being marginalized," Wen said.
"The international community should take steps to help them overcome difficulties, and enhance their capacity for self-improvement, environmental protection and sustainable development," Wen noted.
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, said the Chinese premier.
Wen said "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," Wen added.
China's assistance to Africa sincere, without political conditions: Premier
Being a developing country itself, China provides assistance to African countries with the deepest sincerity and without any political conditions, Premier Wen said.
"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," Wen said.
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, said the Chinese premier.
However, 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, said Wen. "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," Wen said.
(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2003)