China-Africa cooperation forum hailed as model for multilateral engagement

For nearly the past decade, China has been Africa's largest business and trading partner. Image courtesy: Xinhua
For nearly the past decade, China has been Africa’s largest business and trading partner. Image courtesy: Xinhua

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which had its latest summit in Beijing earlier this week, was hailed by an African diplomat as an effective model for multilateral engagement with Africa.

“The fact that China pursues the win-win cooperation and the ‘five-no’ approach in its engagement with Africa renders FOCAC a strategic importance not only as a model for South-South cooperation but also with the potential to transform it into an exemplary platform for international cooperation as well,” said Semungu H. Gebrehiwot, minister counselor at the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, in New York on Friday.

The “five-no” approach is no interference in the development paths of individual countries; no interference in their internal affairs; no imposition of China’s will; no attachment of political strings regarding assistance; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation.

Once labeled as a “hopeless continent,” Africa is now on a path to transformation and change, thanks to the major role played by China, Gebrehiwot said.

For nearly the past decade, China has been Africa’s largest business and trading partner. The recent announcement of $60 billion of financing package during the summit is another huge opportunity that has far-reaching positive impact on Africa’s continued development and stability, he said.

African leaders and African Union officials have expressed the view that the Beijing Declaration and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan fully reflect the priorities set by Africans in Agenda 2063, a strategic framework that envisions creating an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, the Ethiopian diplomat said.

China is putting a bulk of its fund on areas that matter most to African countries, hastening their development, which would also meaningfully contribute to addressing the root causes of conflicts in Africa, when seven out of eight of the major initiatives China launched during the FOCAC Beijing summit target socioeconomic and development issues, he said.

FOCAC can serve as an important tool for preventing conflicts, a priority championed by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres since taking the UN’s highest office in January 2017, Gebrehiwot said.

He added that through FOCAC, China is complementing AU’s Agenda 2063, UN’s SDG 2030 and vision of the UN reform proposal that was recently endorsed by the General Assembly.

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