Two years ago, the first China-South Sudan Think Tank Forum was successfully held here in Juba, South Sudan. Scholars from the two countries gathered together to make suggestions on the development of China-South Sudan relations and bilateral practical cooperation and achieved fruitful results. The heated discussion at that time has left a deep impression on me. Today, 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, experts and scholars from our two countries have once again gathered virtually to provide suggestions for implementing the results of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).Experts and scholars have spent more than 5 hours expressing their opinions on the four topics set in the forum, which inspired me a lot. According to my understanding, these opinions and suggestions could be summarized into three points: First, we all speak highly of the outcome of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC, which is an essential platform for China and African countries to conduct collective dialogues and promote pragmatic cooperation. The results of the FOCAC have fully reflected the strong commitment of China and Africa to seeking common development while overcoming difficulties, and have drawn up a new blueprint by providing new opportunities for China-Africa cooperation in the new era. Second, we all believe that China and South Sudan have promising prospects for cooperation. At the new starting point of the 10th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, China and South Sudan should well plan and implement the outcomes of the FOCAC conference in accordance with the actual conditions and development needs of South Sudan by expanding the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in the fields of agriculture, trade and investment, peace and security, and people-to-people ties, 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. Third, we all believe that the China South Sudan Think Tank Forum has built a bridge for communication between experts and scholars of the two countries. Today’s forum has played an active role in promoting our intellectual and cultural exchanges, enhancing mutual understanding through mutual learning, and serving the overall development of our bilateral relations. It’s hoped that we could continue to well organize the Think tank forum in the future. For the sake of time, I will not list all the specific opinions and suggestions made by the speakers. I believe that the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University, as the organizer of today’s Forum, will carefully sort out your insights and form a final report for the reference of the line agencies of the two governments. Here, I wish to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on practical cooperation between China and South Sudan and that among the think tanks. First, China-South Sudan cooperation should stay focused on people’s livelihood by further strengthening agricultural cooperation. As a Chinese saying goes, 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. If the food insecurity problem is not resolved, we will face more difficulties in solving other problems. South Sudan has vast fertile land, and thus enjoys great potential for agricultural development. 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. 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 alleviating food insecurity and turning South Sudan’s fertile land into a “bread basket”. Second, China-South Sudan cooperation should pursue sustainable development by optimizing the business environment andfacilitating investment. This June, the first “China-South Sudan Workshop on Developing small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs) and Trade” was jointly organized by the Chinese embassy, Yiwu City in Zhejiang Province, together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Sudan, in order to promote exchanges and cooperation between SMEs of the two countries. It is noted that SMEs are an important part of South Sudan’s economy and play a key role in improving people’s livelihood. 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 planning the scale of construction, support the development of African SMEs, to realize sustainable development. China is willing to provide financial support such as preferential loansand governmental assistance according to the needs of South Sudan. It’s hoped that South Sudan could seize this opportunity and strive for a safe, stable, and friendly 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. Third, China-South Sudan cooperation should uphold win-win cooperation by promoting bilateral trade. At present, China is accelerating to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay with domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This has provided new opportunities for the development of South Sudan. 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. Recently, a number of foreign envoys in China have made the online promotion of their products on Chinese e-commerce platforms. Thousands of kilograms of coffee beans promoted by the Rwandan ambassador to China, and Ceylon black tea recommended by the Sri Lankan ambassador to China are sold out within a few seconds, demonstrating the huge potential of the Chinese market with upgrading consumption. South Sudan’s sesame, yam, Arabic gum, honey, and other products have also aroused much interest from Chinese customers during the exhibitions in China includingChina International Import Expo and China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo. In terms of export, South Sudan is still facing difficulties such as the 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. Fourth, China-South Sudan cooperation should look ahead to the future by strengthening capacity building. We always say that 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. Fifth, China-South Sudan cooperation should serve to advance the peace process and promote development and stability. In the 72 years since the founding of thePeople’s Republic of China, China has well balanced the two major undertakings of development and security, achieving the “two miracles” of rapid economic development and long-term social stability. At the 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 for 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. Sixth, China-South Sudan cooperation should be primarily guided by intellectual support by giving full play to the think tanks. South Sudan is the youngest country in the world,therefore, there is not much understanding between the two countries and there are many gaps in academic research. Scholars from the two countries should actively explore new models for the development of think tank cooperation in an integrated manner. You should participate more in the planning and implementation of China-South Sudan cooperation by integrating academic studies into practice. You may further enhance innovation on the basis of existing research methods, explore joint research and field studies, so as to enhance the role of think tank scholars in promoting cooperation between China and South Sudan. We should also give full play to the South Sudan Research Center by conducting in-depth academic exchanges. In the studies, you may determine the priority of cooperation in accordance with the development needs and desires of South Sudan, propose feasible recommendations, and explore new areas and growth points for cooperation between the two countries. In conclusion, I look forward to the sincere cooperation, exchanges and mutual learning between experts and scholars of China and South Sudan, and continuous production of outstanding scientific research results that serve the development of our bilateral relations and the practical cooperation between our countries by applying the principle of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend. I thank you very much.
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