FOCAC Summit: Rebranding Sino-African Development In Beijing

Leaders of Africa and the President of China redesigned the roadmap for Sino-African cooperation as they held their forum yesterday 3 September, 2018.

The dawn of another new era for China and Africa has come. It was the semblance or even a challenge to the atmosphere at the United Nations General Assembly viewed yesterday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Virtually all leaders of African countries answered present at the 7th Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, holding at the summit level for the third time which opened yesterday in Beijing with far-reaching disclosures conceived around the Belt and Road Initiative put in place by President Xi Jinping to link China, Europe and Africa through modern and compelling infrastructure.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, with more African countries expressing their interest in joining the outstanding project. So far, nearly 10 African countries have signed the Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China, and more are at negotiation stage. President Paul Biya who took an active part at the opening conference yesterday 3 September already confirmed to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping on Friday 31 August, 2018 during an audience that Cameroon is ready to work with the Beijing regime following the terms of the initiative.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference in Beijing, President Xi Jinping, chair of the forum and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, co-chair, all harped on the importance of meeting objectives set by Africa and China to attain a number of development moves. In particular, President Xi made several announcements concerning facilities that China has made and will continue to put at the disposal of African countries as a mark of his country being sincere to commitments to the relationship they share with Africa. While non-interference, no political strings attached to cooperation and no selfish gains desired in exchanges China has with Africa, President Xi went on to underline their determination to continue to defy all odds to work with Africa.

For his part, President Cyril Ramaphosa castigated the view that a new colonialism is being forged in Africa by China saying it is the work of detractors. FOCAC, he continued, will implement measures that will reduce the cost and increase the volume of trade between China and Africa. He appreciated several offers made by President Xi in favour of Africa bringing out the fact that through resolute actions, China is the second largest economy and the third largest investor in the world. FOCAC will help Africa balance the structure of trade between Africa and China and he was glad that President Xi Jinping is in favour of such a balance.

Following in the same line, was President Paul Kagame of Rwanda who is the Chairman of the African Union. To Mr Kagame, Africa is not the property of anyone and undertaking trade relations with China is not at the expense of anyone.

Other keynote speakers were the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation, Antonio Guterres and the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat who all lauded the importance of the China-Africa partnership. Proposed in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.

Established 18 years ago to foster such ambitions, FOCAC, according to observers, has achieved fruitful results and has become a significant mark of China-Africa cooperation. China-Africa trade volume amounted to 170 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, up from just over 10 billion dollars in 2000, according to data from China's Ministry of Commerce.

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