FOCAC: 20 years of shared destiny and success

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

by Hanane Thamik

Chinese President Xi Jinping and foreign leaders attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, September 3, 2018. /Xinhua

Over the past 20 years, the China-Africa Cooperation Forum has continuously improved and upgraded and is now an important platform for consultation and dialogue between China and Africa.  The consultation mechanism and dialogue channels between China and Africa are becoming increasingly diversified. This is mainly manifested in the establishment of new sub-forums under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum or the promotion of institutionalization of existing sub-forums.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation started with trade as its main focus and formed comprehensive cooperation covering politics, economy, culture, security, and international affairs. The second is to upgrade from cooperation in specific areas to cooperation in development capabilities such as formulating policies and plans. For example, from sending medical teams to African countries to helping African countries strengthen their health system construction and policy formulation, to improve Africa’s capacity for independent and sustainable development in the field of medical and health care.

China-Africa cooperation keeps pace with the times and becomes more pragmatic. It accomplishes this by adding new cooperation content. For example, in political cooperation, in addition to high-level exchanges, political parties, legislatures, local governments, and exchanges of experience in state governance are gradually increased. Increase maritime economic cooperation, food safety cooperation, traditional Chinese medicine, and African traditional medical cooperation, and China-Africa cultural industry cooperation. The second is to deepen pragmatic cooperation.

FOCAC continues to connect and support Africa’s development strategy. This is mainly manifested in the docking of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the “Belt and Road” construction, and the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The goals of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and NEPAD are the same, that is, both are committed to promoting peace and development in Africa. Both the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and NEPAD regard infrastructure cooperation as a priority area for development. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation supports Africa in implementing the “Agenda 2063” and its first ten-year plan to achieve independent and sustainable development. To support Africa’s realization of interconnection and integration, so that Africa has more integrated infrastructure, China will work with the African Union in the design, inspection, financing, and management of the “Infrastructure Development Plan” and the “Presidential Infrastructure Initiative” which aims to establish partnerships and strengthen dialogue and exchanges to provide support for project planning and feasibility studies across the continent.

At the same time, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation also maintains its original intention to make agriculture and infrastructure cooperation the priority areas of China-Africa cooperation.

In the future, FOCAC will continue to expand China-Africa cooperation in education and human resources development and other areas with the ultimate goal of achieving a balance and expansion of China-Africa trade and mutual benefit for all parties.

Hanane Thamik 

Hanane Thamik is a Ph.D. scholar at the School of Information Management at Wuhan University. She was chosen as the Ambassador of Wuhan City to the world by Changjiang Weekly Magazine. She won the awards of the Belt and Road Tourism ambassador 2019, the Outstanding African Student in China 2018, the Cultural Achievement Award by UNESCO, Top 20 Outstanding Students of Wuhan University 2017, and recently the Wuhan University Outstanding International Students award.

The preceding article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN Africa, its staff and management.