VII. Giving Full Play to the Guidance Role of FOCAC
Founded in 2000 by China and Africa, FOCAC has formed dialogue and cooperation mechanisms at various levels such as ministerial conferences, senior official meetings and entrepreneurs' conferences. So far, four ministerial conferences and a summit have been held within this framework. Owing to the joint efforts of China and Africa, FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa. It enhances political mutual trust, leads to cooperation, especially economic and trade cooperation, and expands and deepens China-Africa relations, and raises the level of their relations.
Since the first FOCAC Ministerial Conference in 2000, the Chinese government, focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing China and Africa, has taken a series of steps to deepen China-Africa economic relations and trade on the basis of long-term cooperation, mutual respect and consultation on an equal footing. These steps, fitting the needs of Africa, represent the practical spirit and creative endeavors of the Chinese government.
At the first FOCAC Ministerial Conference China announced it would reduce or cancel African countries' debts to China, and encouraged Chinese companies to invest in Africa and train professionals for Africa. At the second FOCAC Ministerial Conference in 2003, China pledged to increase aid to Africa, enhance cooperation in the sphere of human resources development and give zero-tariff treatment to some of the exported products from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa with diplomatic ties with China.
At the Beijing Summit and third Ministerial Conference of FOCAC in 2006, China announced an eight-point plan for strengthening practical China-Africa cooperation and supporting the development of Africa, including increasing assistance; providing preferential loans; helping the African Union (AU) to build a convention center; raising the number of African export items to China eligible for zero-tariff treatment; setting up a China-Africa Development Fund; building overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in African countries; setting up demonstration centers of agricultural technology; and setting up malaria prevention and treatment centers. All the above-mentioned eight commitments were fully in place by the end of 2009 with the joint endeavors of China and Africa.
In 2009 China declared another eight-point plan at the fourth FOCAC Ministerial Conference, covering agriculture, environmental protection, investment promotion, debt reduction and cancellation, wider market access, education, and medical care and public health. These eight commitments, focusing on improving the living standards of the African people, enhancing cooperation in agriculture and human resource development and raising Africa' s self-reliance capacity, aim to help African countries solve their current practical problems, realize sustainable growth, and further consolidate the foundation for economic and social development.
China's commitments offered through FOCAC help all African countries having diplomatic ties with China, and provide practical benefits to these countries and their peoples. In future, based on the spirit of mutual benefit and progress, friendly consultation, pragmatism and high efficiency, the Chinese government will, together with African countries, continue to strengthen the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa within the FOCAC framework, and further develop a new-type of China-Africa strategic partnership.