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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Response to several questions on China-Africa relations

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I. All roads lead to China – nothing is wrong

Recently, I have noticed a columnist’s article that draw on ancient Roman history to insinuate that “all roads lead to China”, concluding that China’s development poses a threat rather than an opportunity to the world. This kind of view is untenable both logically and practically. I cannot help but explain the reason why “all roads lead to China” now.

Since the founding of People’s Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening up of China, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), have created a great miracle of economic and social development, building China from a poor country to the second largest economy in the world today. Nearly 100 million rural poor people have been lifted out of poverty, and the problem of absolute poverty has been historically resolved. The middle-income group exceeds 400 million people, making the largest middle-income group in the world. China has become a major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions. According to the latest report published by the World Bank, from 2013 to 2021, China’s average contribution to world economic growth reaches 38.6%, more than the combined contribution of the G7 countries. All of this is a clear and unmistakable indication that China has become an important, positive and constructive force on the international stage, and that roads to global development are and will continue to be connected to China.

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But China is not Rome. Peace and harmony are ideals that have been pursued and passed down by the Chinese people for more than 5,000 years, and it is not in the blood of the Chinese people to invade others or to claim hegemony. In 2013, H.E. President Xi Jinping proposed the construction of “the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road”. In the past ten years, it has become a path of peace, development, cooperation and win-win cooperation, with 150 countries and 32 international organizations forming the “Belt and Road” family, marking a new level of international economic cooperation and creating a new engine to promote the global development. In 2021, H.E. President Xi Jinping proposed the “Global Development Initiative (GDI)”, with the goal of building a global development community and accelerating the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More than 100 countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, have already supported the GDI, and more than 60 countries, including The Gambia, have joined the “Group of Friends of the GDI”. Indeed, all roads are leading to China, not as a “superpower” exporting ideology and hegemony, but as a “pioneer” seeking for modernization based on its own conditions and a “friend” willing to share development opportunities with other countries to achieve common progress for all mankind.

II. China-Africa Community of Shared Future – the people’s desire

China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Shared past experiences and similar aims and goals have brought China and Africa close together. China and Africa will always be a community of shared future.

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China and Africa enjoy a long-lasting friendship. Chairman Mao Zedong and other first-generation leaders of the People’s Republic of China, along with African statesmen of the older generation, laid the foundations for China-Africa friendship. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 67 years ago, China and Africa have supported each other in the fight for national liberation and independence, helped each other in pursuing economic development and national rejuvenation, and coordinated closely on major international and regional issues, thus forging an unbreakable brotherhood. Entering the new era, H.E. President Xi Jinping put forward the principles of China’s Africa policy – sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, charting the course for China’s cooperation with Africa, and providing the fundamental guidelines. At the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018, China and Africa decided to build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, establishing a new milestone in China-Africa relations.

Since the establishment of FOCAC, China and Africa have deepen political mutual trust, promoted economic and trade cooperation, and expanded people-to-people exchanges. The China-Gambia cooperation in infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, environmental protection and other fields has yielded fruitful outcomes. China has helped African countries build and upgrade more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, and 66,000 km of power transmission and distribution. China has built more than 80 large-scale power facilities, and funded over 130 medical facilities, 45 sports venues and over 170 schools. China has also trained more than 160,000 personnel for Africa. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years since 2009, and the trade volume between China and Africa exceeds $260 billion by 2022. 52 African countries and the African Union Commission have signed “Belt and Road” cooperation documents with China, and landmark projects such as the African Union Conference Center, the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mombasa–Nairobi Railway and the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway have emerged. All these real figures and vivid stories show us the unbreakable brotherly and friendly relations between China and Africa. China-Africa cooperation has no hidden agenda and no political conditions. China-Africa friendship has not been an overnight achievement, nor has it been gifted from on high. Rather, it has been fostered throughout the years when China and Africa supported and stood alongside each other in trying times. We believe the African people have the most knowledge and right to comment on this.

III. Cooperation between China and The Gambia in various fields – a bright future

The Gambia is a member of the FOCAC family and China-Gambia cooperation is an important part of China-Africa cooperation. China attaches great importance to the development of China-Gambia relations. Although the two countries just re-established diplomatic ties a few years ago, we have made solid efforts to promote bilateral cooperation in various fields under the framework of FOCAC and yield fruitful outcomes. The International Convention Centre (ICC) and the road and bridge in the Upper River Region has been completed and contribute to the economic and social development of The Gambia. China and The Gambia have worked together to fight the COVID. China has provided medical supplies and vaccines to The Gambia and dispatched several batches of medical teams to The Gambia, helping The Gambia to improve public health service capacity. China has provided several batches of large-scale food aid to The Gambia, and Chinese agricultural experts have carried out demonstration projects in The Gambia to teach agricultural techniques to Gambian farmers, improve hybrid rice varieties adoptive to local conditions, making active efforts to help The Gambia ensure food security and achieve food self-sufficiency. We are pleased to cooperate with our Gambian friends and will continue to support the economic and social development of The Gambia based on the principles of friendship and sincerity, helping The Gambia realize its full potential and meet people’s real needs. We strive to do more within our capability.

Recently, I’m honored to accompanied H.E. President Barrow to attend the ceremony of laying Foundation Stone-23MW Solar PV Plant built by a Chinese company, which is an example of tripartite cooperation. I applaud The Gambian government for this historic project decision. We will invite more Gambian friends to China to participate in exchange and training programs, and welcome more Chinese tourists to visit the “Smiling Coast” and more Chinese businessmen to invest and do business in The Gambia, giving new impetus to exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

As the new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said during his first visit to Africa earlier this year, China has always supported Africa with practical actions, and the future of China-Africa relations is bound to be even better. I am confident that China-Africa relations will continue to reach new heights, and China-Gambia friendship will continue to bear fruit, so as to make a common voice and contribution to global peace and development.

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