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Unique role in building strong bond

By Lin Songtian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-16 07:33

Editor's note: The China-Africa Media Forum hosted by the Information Office of the State Council and co-organized by Xinhua News Agency and Independent Media Group of South Africa was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday. Below are excerpts from the speeches of the participants.

China has proposed new concepts for China-Africa cooperation. In March 2013, immediately after taking office, President Xi Jinping paid a visit to Africa. During the visit, he said China would adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests in its relations with Africa, pointing out the direction for the development of China-Africa relations. To realize this goal, both China and Africa have agreed to safely, orderly and effectively promote our friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation through the new concepts of common, intensive, green, secure and open development.

During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Summit in December 2015, President Xi announced that over the next three years, China and Africa would implement 10 cooperation plans to accelerate Africa's industrialization and agricultural modernization, with China providing $60 billion in funding. And during the summit, it was unanimously agreed to upgrade China-Africa relations to comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, ushering ties into a new era.

New breakthroughs have been made in China-Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation. China always keeps to its faith and remains committed to efficiency and practicality in its cooperation with Africa. Through the joint efforts of China and African countries, progress has been made in the implementation of outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit. We have completed a number of signature projects including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, the Nairobi-Mombasa Railway in Kenya, and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line in Nigeria. Rapid progress has been made in production capacity cooperation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo. The construction of special economic zones and industrial parks in Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, the Republic of Congo and Egypt has achieved encouraging results, attracting more and more Chinese investors and creating a large number of jobs for the local communities.

Today, we are proud to say that China has become Africa's largest trading partner, main investor and engineering contractor. In the first half of 2017, despite the economic headwinds, the China-Africa trade volume soared to $85.3 billion with a growth rate of 19 percent. The Chinese non-financial direct investment in Africa grew by 22 percent to exceed $1.6 billion. China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation has entered a new stage of transformation and upgrading, shifting from government-led assistance to market-driven trade and enterprise investment, from general merchandise trade to production capacity cooperation and processing trade, from project contracting to investment, construction and operation.

And we are confident that, by implementing the China-Africa Ten Cooperation Plans and the African Union's Agenda 2063, as well as China's Belt and Road Initiative, we can deliver more tangible benefits to both of our peoples.

As journalists from China and Africa, you have personally witnessed the development of China-Africa cooperation. Over the years, the stories you have told have played an irreplaceable role in the development of the friendship and cooperation between China and Africa, and these efforts will always be profoundly remembered. But our media need to do more to better serve China-Africa relations. This is a pressing task for all of us, and here I wish to make three proposals with regard to the roles that our media can play.

First, the Chinese and African media should promote China-Africa friendship and uphold our common interests. Our media should fully leverage their strengths in telling the true stories of the friendship between China and Africa and their mutually beneficial cooperation and help build up positive energy for China-Africa ties. Efforts should be made to establish platforms for Chinese and African people to learn more about each other, and help them realize that both China and Africa face the same tasks of reform, development and improving people's livelihoods. Our media should also give due expression to the legitimate demands of the developing countries, and firmly defend our common interests.

Second, our media should strengthen their voices. China and Africa should deepen their media exchanges, share the best practices, encourage mutual learning and increase the number of journalists we send to each other. Only by working together can we boost our collective voice, and the voice of the developing countries in the international community. In the face of the vicious attacks and smears by the Western media, our media should come up with detailed facts and figures to refute their false claims. I'm confident that through our joint efforts, we can foster a new environment and narrative for China-Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Third, our media should communicate strongly to the public the great opportunities of China-Africa development cooperation. That includes full, fair and objective knowledge of our mutual development demands, our respective strengths, and the historic opportunities they harbor. Our media should engage actively to call for implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, and synergize Africa's development with China's Belt and Road Initiative, so as to create a positive and favorable environment for deeper friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa.

The fast development of China-Africa cooperation makes it imperative that our media plays a greater role. Let us work together with a strong sense of sincerity, unity, and motivation, to contribute further to the common development of China and Africa.

Lin Songtian is Chinese ambassador to South Africa

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