China holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month. On 19th May, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who visited The Gambia successfully in 2019, chaired an open debate on “Peace and Security in Africa: Addressing Root Causes of Conflict While Promoting Post-Pandemic Recovery in Africa” and proposed the “Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development” with the African side.
The initiative is based on the trend of major development, major change and major adjustment in the world today, and believes that promoting peace, security and development remains the core tasks for us all. Africa is a continent with enormous development potential and one of the fastest-growing regions in recent years, but Covid-19 has seriously impacted the economies of Africa countries. We understand that contributing to Africa’s development is a broad-based consensus and the common responsibility of the international community. Therefore, the initiative aims to develop new approaches of mutually beneficial cooperation with Africa.
The initiative calls for cooperation with Africa on the basis of respecting sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of African countries, and assistance to African countries in exploring development paths suited to their own national conditions. We applaud the progress made by Africa in containing Covid-19 and call for increasing the supply of vaccines to support Africa’s early victory over the pandemic. We call on the international community to beef up support for Africa in fighting the pandemic, post-pandemic reconstruction, trade and investment, debt relief, food security, poverty reduction and alleviation, coping with climate change, as well as industrialisation. Our goal is to support Africa in accelerating the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving independent and sustainable development at an early date.
The initiative is a vivid embodiment of the Community of Shared Future for Mankind and an even stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future. It’s the common aspiration of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) family. The Gambia, as a member of the FOCAC family, is both a beneficiary of Africa’s development and a contributor of China-Africa cooperation. Under the framework of FOCAC, China and The Gambia have achieved fruitful results in many fields, including infrastructure construction, agriculture, education and people-to-people exchanges, which have greatly benefited the Gambian people. At the end of this year, a new session of FOCAC high-level meeting will be convened in Senegal to further map out the blueprint for China-Africa cooperation in the next three years. China will effectively implement the content of the initiative and the spirit of the FOCAC high-level meeting, continue to strengthen cooperation with The Gambia in support of its economic and social development.
As for China-Gambia bilateral cooperation, presently, we will focus on the following four areas:
Firstly, we will strengthen cooperation with The Gambia in the field of infrastructure construction. The Gambia International Conference Centre, which was built with the cooperation of China and The Gambia, has been put into operation and will be the main venue of the OIC 2022 Summit. In the next stage, we will do our utmost to complete the Road and Bridge Project for the Upper River Region in this August. It will greatly facilitate the travel of the people on both sides of The Gambia River, and the trade across the country, improve the living standard of the local people.
Secondly, we will continue to provide urgent aid to The Gambia. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Chinese government has sent a team of medical experts to The Gambia to help fight against the epidemic, and donated several batches of anti-pandemic materials to The Gambia, which have effectively safeguarded the lives and health of the Gambian people. In the next stage, the Chinese government will consider providing new aid projects and programs to The Gambia. We will seize the opportunity of the new session of the FOCAC high-level meeting to discuss with The Gambia on strengthening cooperation in various fields.
Thirdly, we will continue to strengthen agricultural cooperation with The Gambia. More than two years ago, the Chinese government officially launched the agricultural cooperation demonstration project for The Gambia. Over the past two years, China has sent agricultural experts to assist the Gambian people in improving rice varieties, advancing agricultural technologies and training agricultural talents. We will continue to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the agricultural cooperation demonstration project, and contribute to The Gambia’s agricultural independence and food self-sufficiency. In 2021, China will also provide humanitarian food aid to The Gambia, which will contribute to people’s health and national economic recovery.
Fourthly, we will resume the people-to-people exchanges between China and The Gambia at the proper time. Since the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and The Gambia more than five years ago, China has provided capacity building programmes for nearly 900 Gambian people from public and private sectors, and more than 140 Gambian students have received Chinese government scholarships and studied in China. As the situation of fighting against pandemic continues to improve and international travel restrictions gradually ease, exchanges between China and The Gambia will be resumed to provide more opportunities for Gambian youth and women and boost up capacity building for The Gambia in key areas.
All in all, bilateral cooperation works better with multilateral partnership. We call on all international partners to jointly contribute to the economic and social development of The Gambia. The Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development is an open and inclusive international public good. It not only requires the participation of China and Africa, but also welcomes more countries and international organisations, especially Africa’s traditional cooperation partners, to join this initiative. For instance, such a kind of a project will be implemented in The Gambia. It is an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) project to design and build transmission infrastructures between Brikama and Jabang, which is funded by the World Bank, and will be designed and constructed by a Chinese company with the involvement and participation of French and Spanish companies.
Just As Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the UN Security Council Open Debate, “China will never step away from anything as long as it’s good for Africa”. Let’s hold high the banner of supporting Africa’s development, break the darkness and fog brought by the Covid-19, and create a better future for Africa and The Gambia.