Beijing summit to voice closer China-Africa community with shared future: veteran diplomat

The upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit will air a strong voice to build an even closer community with a shared future for China and Africa, said a veteran Chinese diplomat.

Liu Guijin, former Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa and the first special representative of the Chinese government on African Affairs, said this in an interview with Xinhua prior to the FOCAC Beijing Summit.

Working in African affairs for over 30 years, Liu said China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future.

“Africa is home to more developing countries than any other continent, and China is the largest developing country in the world. We shared similar experiences, ideas and common interests,” said Liu.

Liu believes the summit will bring an opportunity for developing countries to better join hands and voice collective opinions to protect globalization and free trade.

The summit is scheduled for Sept. 3 to 4 in Beijing. Priorities and key directions for China-Africa cooperation in the future will be announced.

Liu said an expected highlight of this year’s Beijing summit will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development strategies.

“The summit will improve planning and top-level design to expand cooperation in politics, economy, security, culture and people’s livelihoods,” said Liu.

Customs data showed bilateral trade volume between China and African countries reached 170 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, up 14.1 percent year on year.

As a veteran diplomat in African affairs for decades, Liu has witnessed and participated in the development of China-Africa relations and the growth of FOCAC.

FOCAC was founded in 2000, and its membership has grown to include China, 53 African countries having diplomatic relations with China and the African Union Commission as of June 2018, according to the FOCAC website.

FOCAC has held two summits gathering leaders of China and African countries, one in Beijing in 2006 and another in Johannesburg in 2015.

In response to criticism of China’s policy toward Africa, Liu stressed that China has always wanted an equal and mutually beneficial relationship with Africa and to develop together.

“Our policy toward Africa has never changed. China looks at Africa as a continent full of opportunities and potential, not a charity case,” Liu noted.

Liu reiterated China would never interfere in the internal affairs of any African countries and has no geopolitical ambitions.

He stressed that China helped Africa sincerely and honestly, and the cooperation between China and Africa benefits the whole world.