(by H.E. HUA Ning, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan)
From November 29th to 30th, the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully held in Dakar of Senegal. China and 54 African members of the FOCAC, including South Sudan, jointly charted the future development of China-Africa relations in the next 3 years and beyond. The Dakar Declaration, the Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024), the Declaration on China-Africa Cooperation on Combating Climate Change, and the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 were adopted at the conference, reflecting the strong commitment of China and Africa to seeking common development while overcoming difficulties, and showing the huge potential and broad prospects of China-Africa cooperation.
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the FOCAC conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward four proposals on building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, including fighting COVID-19 with solidarity, deepening practical cooperation, promoting green development, and upholding equity and justice. He also announced that China will work closely with African countries to implement nine programs in the next 3 years to come, which are related to medical service and health, poverty reduction and agricultural development, trade and investment promotion, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, cultural and people-to-people exchange, and peace and security. President Xi’s speech has drawn up a new blueprint by providing new opportunities for China-Africa cooperation in the new era.
Similar historical experiences, common course of endeavors, and shared aspiration for development have closely combined China and Africa together, making us Comprehensive Strategic Partners. Since its establishment in 2000, FOCAC has developed into an important platform for China and African countries to conduct collective dialogue and practical cooperation. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, and Africa’s 4th largest source of investment with an average annual growth rate of over 25%. China has supported African countries in building a large number of infrastructure and livelihood projects, and Chinese companies have created more than 4.5 million jobs in Africa. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has offered over 120 batches of emergency anti-pandemic supplies to 53 African countries and the African Union, provided nearly 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, and dispatched anti-pandemic medical expert teams to 17 African countries, among which South Sudan was the very first country to receive the expert team after the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 held last June. At the FOCAC conference this time, President Xi announced that China will provide another 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, which is the largest vaccine aid to Africa that a single country has undertaken. The fruitful results of China-Africa cooperation have benefited all African countries and their peoples.
Although the domestic security situation has adversely affected South Sudan’s engagement in the cooperation under the FOCAC framework after its independence in 2011, China and South Sudan have always shared weal and woe with continuous cooperation. On the eve of the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in 2018, H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit visited China for the FOCAC Beijing Summit and reached important consensus on deepening cooperation with President Xi Jinping, making China-South Sudan cooperation enter its fast lane. Over the past 3 years, China and South Sudan have worked closely to implement the “Eight Major Initiatives” proposed during the FOCAC Beijing Summit. The key projects include Jur River Bridge in Wau, SSBC Broadcasting Facilities, Juba Teaching Hospital, renovation of Juba International Airport and Air Traffic Management System that have been implemented one after another. Our cooperation in education, health, capacity building, agriculture, emergency humanitarian assistance and other fields has also delivered fruitful results. All the programs and projects have well responded to the appeal from President Kiir to “scale back humanitarian programming and devote more energies to development support”, so as to promote the socio-economic development and people’s livelihood in South Sudan.
This year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) solemnly celebrates its centenary. On the basis of completing the building a moderately prosperous society in all respects in 2021, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, have embarked on a new journey to fully build a modern socialist country and implement the14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Goals for 2035. Meanwhile, South Sudan is also standing at an important historical juncture with its peace process advancing through twists and turns, and economic and social development recovering gradually. The Resolution adopted by the just-concluded 5th Governors’ Forum has reflected the desire and determination of the South Sudanese government and people to achieve peace and development. China stands ready to work with South Sudan to well plan and implement the outcomes of the FOCAC conference in accordance with the actual conditions and development needs of South Sudan, so as to upgrade China-South Sudan friendly cooperation to new heights with long-term progress on the basis of the gains and achievements over the past decade since the establishment of our diplomatic relations.
—— We should stay focused on people’s livelihood by strengthening agricultural cooperation. A country will be safe only when its agriculture is stable. At present, food security has become a major issue of people’s livelihood in South Sudan since millions of people are still facing a food crisis. South Sudan has vast fertile land, and thus enjoys great potential for agricultural development. Early in the 1970s, Chinese agricultural experts came to Southern Sudan to help local farmers with rice cultivation. In recent years, we have earnestly assisted South Sudan with agricultural machinery and equipment and provided agricultural technical training. Under the “poverty reduction and agricultural development program” of this FOCAC conference, China will continue to deepen agricultural cooperation with South Sudan. The Chinese Embassy will collaborate with the UNMISS and the Eastern Equatoria State government to carry out a pilot capacity building project on climate-resilient sustainable agriculture for youth in the E.E.S. We will continue to share experiences in poverty reduction and agricultural development through training and technical exchanges, and support South Sudan to increase food production with a view to gradually alleviate food insecurity and turn South Sudan’s fertile land into a “bread basket”.
——We should pursue sustainable development while expanding investment. It is hard for a country to develop with its doors being closed. In the early stage of China’s reform and opening up in the 20th century, China had a relatively hard time in terms of its limited finance, and therefore it used foreign loans in many infrastructure and production projects to accelerate its own development. At the same time, China continues to improve its business environment and proactively attract foreign investment. Last year, China became the world’s largest foreign capital inflow country. At the request of African countries, China has provided financial support including concessional loans in order to alleviate the borrowers’ financial difficulties. Not a single African country has ever fallen into the so-called “debt trap” because of Chinese loans. In the next 3 years, China will implement the “investment promotion program” by encouraging its businesses to invest no less than 10 billion US dollars in Africa, providing credit facilities of 10 billion US dollars to African financial institutions to support the development of African SMEs. Currently, it is difficult for South Sudan to conduct large-scale infrastructure construction financed by oil revenue alone. It also needs to use foreign direct investment and preferential loans while reasonably plan the scale of construction to realize sustainable development. It’s hoped that South Sudan could seize this opportunity and strive for a safe, stable and conducive business environment, creating favorable conditions for the development of local SMEs and foreign direct investment, so as to expand employment opportunities and non-oil revenue, and promote people’s livelihood.
——We should uphold win-win cooperation by promoting bilateral trade. China is a mega-sized market with a population of 1.4 billion, and the purchasing power of Chinese consumers is becoming stronger day by day. Through Chinese e-commerce platforms, citrus from South Africa, coffee from Ethiopia and Tanzania, honey from Zambia, and chili from Rwanda have entered the homes of Chinese people, which has greatly increased the income of African farmers. South Sudan’s sesame, yam, Arabic gum, honey and other products have also aroused much interest of Chinese customers during the exhibitions in China. In terms of export, South Sudan is still facing difficulties such as small scale of production, high logistics cost, and imperfect inspection and quarantine system. China will implement the “trade promotion program” proposed at the FOCAC conference by exploring to open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, strengthening cooperation in inspection and quarantine, and providing trade finance so as to support South Sudan and other African countries’ exports to China.
——We should look ahead to the future by strengthening capacity building. As President Xi once said, “a country will be strong if its education prospers”. Since China and South Sudan established diplomatic relations in 2011, China has trained over 5,000 management and technical talents for South Sudan and provided hundreds of scholarships. China has helped South Sudan build a number of schools, completed the China-Aided Technical Cooperation Project of Education (Phase I), and is now implementing its Phase II project by editing and printing textbooks for primary and secondary school students and providing training for teachers in South Sudan. South Sudan is most welcome to actively engage in the “capacity building program” under the FOCAC framework including carrying out vocational education cooperation, participating in seminars and workshops of high-level African professionals, and expanding youth employment channels.
——We should follow the belief that “peace is of paramount importance” to promote peace and security. There will be no sound development without peace. At this FOCAC conference, President Xi proposed that China and Africa will jointly conduct a “peace and security program”. China supports African countries’ efforts to independently maintain regional security, and conduct joint exercises and on-site training between Chinese and African peacekeeping troops and cooperation on small arms and light weapons control. As an international witness to the revitalized peace agreement, China has provided and will continue to provide in-kind assistance for the building of the unified forces of South Sudan, and supports the mediation efforts of the IGAD and the African Union. We believe that relevant parties in South Sudan will continue to move forward on the basis of the current progress of the peace process toward a better future of the country. The international community should better understand the numerous challenges faced by South Sudan in implementing the revitalized peace agreement, provide more support and assistance, listen to the voices of African countries, and lift the embargo and sanctions against South Sudan as soon as possible to create a more favorable international environment to facilitate the peace and development of South Sudan.
On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries, as well as the 10th anniversary of China-South Sudan diplomatic relations, we will uphold the everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation featuring “sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness”. China will work hand in hand with African countries including South Sudan, to further deepen our practical cooperation in various fields under the FOCAC framework and jointly build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.
China-Africa Cooperation：New Era, New Vision, New Opportunities
(by H.E. HUA Ning, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan)