A Successful Journey of Friendship and Cooperation
- Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Talks of President Hu Jintao's Eight-Nation African Tour
On Feb. 10, 2006, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing accepted the joint interview by the journalists accompanying the Chinese delegation just before President Hu Jintao wound up his state visits to the eight African countries.
Li said that President Hu's eight-nation African tour is a journey of friendship and cooperation and another significant event following the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The huge success of the tour will surely exert far-reaching influence on the future development of China-Africa relations.
Li said that the eight nations are located in different sub-regions of Africa. Some are big and some are small. They are at different stages of development. The tour to these countries is a good demonstration of the comprehensiveness and diversity of China-Africa relations. It is the first time for 6 nations to receive the visit by a Chinese President. In the past 12 days, President Hu traveled some 38,000 kilometers and flied over 50 hours. In addition to holding talks and meetings with more than 20 leaders of the 8 countries, President Hu communicated with over 100 high-level persons from all walks of life and reached out to the African people and those Chinese working in Africa. President Hu attended over 90 activities and delivered more than 30 speeches. Li pointed out that President Hu's tour achieved many important results in many areas and is a veritable journey of friendship and cooperation.
The friendship between the Chinese and African people will be passed on from one generation to another
Li said that in looking back upon the past half-century and more, the Chinese and African people established profound friendship in the fight for national liberation and in the process of national building. Such friendship has withstood the tests of time and becomes stronger and stronger. The Tanzania-Zambia railway, the Chinese medical teams working in Africa, and the return of China to the United Nations have all shown the rarity and sincerity of China-Africa friendship. Such sincere friendship ran through the entire tour.
The leaders of many countries received and saw off President Hu at the airport and hoped to make President Hu feel at home. South African President Thabo Mubeki held a meeting with President Hu in the meeting room of the Cabinet. The headmen in local villages presented rice, fruits and white pigeons to President Hu, which is the most sacred traditional ceremony held by the local people to express the best wishes for peace and prosperity. There were over tens of thousands of people along the streets welcoming President Hu by playing the drum, singing, dancing, waving the flags, or cheering. There were even some shouting "Welcome" and "Hello" in Chinese. Some even danced Yangge (a popular folk dance in China). The singer in South Africa who sang the Chinese national anthem in the state banquet was very impressive. The African friends, from the leaders to common people, all sang high praise for the traditional friendship between China and Africa, thanked China for supporting and assisting Africa's liberation causes as well as Africa's economic and social development, and called China "the brother of Africa", "the all-whether friend of Africa" and "the most important partner of Africa".
During the tour, President Hu held cordial talks with African leaders and people from different walks of life and communicated frankly with the media. He talked pleasantly with the common people at the airports, meeting places, construction cites, factories, hospitals and residence buildings, conveying the best wishes of the Chinese people to the African people and sowing the seeds of China-Africa friendship. He pointed out on multiple occasions that the Chinese people will always be the good friend, partner and brother of the African people. The Chinese people will never impose our ideology, social system and development model upon others. The Chinese people will never do anything that harms the African countries and people. President Hu was warmly applauded every time when he affirmed so. He also paid a visit to the old friends of the Chinese people, Kaunda and Nujoma. He put forward an initiative to the African youths aimed at carrying forward the friendship, enhancing exchanges and creating a joint future, which was also warmly responded.
Li pointed out that the visit indicates that the torch of China-Africa friendship can surely be passed on to the generations to come, just as President Hu declared in speech at the University of Pretoria, "The friendship between the Chinese and Africa people can surely be passed on from one generation to another."
To implement the Achievements of the Beijing Summit to benefit the Africa people
Li mentioned that President Hu put forward eight policy measures aimed at strengthening the pragmatic cooperation with Africa and supporting the development of African countries at the Beijing Summit last November, which were warmly welcomed and earnestly expected by the Africa countries.
During the trip, President Hu told the African side that China will, in light of the needs of African countries, earnestly implement the 8 measures in a step by step manner, according to the overall planning, and in the principle of mutual benefits, win-win cooperation, friendly consultations, effective and pragmatic implementation. Within this framework, China will offer free aid, interest-free loans, and preferential loans to the eight countries, identify the assistance projects, implement debt and tariff exemption treatment, assist the construction of schools in rural areas, demo centers for agricultural technologies, and malaria prevention and treatment centers, and increase the number of government scholarship recipients. There were over 50 cooperation agreements signed during Hu's visits, most of which relate to the implementation of the achievements of the Summit. President Hu attended the board-unveiling ceremony for China's first economic and trade cooperation zone, demo center for agricultural technologies and malaria prevention and treatment center in Africa. President Hu also put forward some policy proposals for the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation, such as enriching means of cooperation, utilizing complementary advantages, promoting joint development and benefiting the people. Hu stressed that China will be committed to optimizing the trade structure, expanding investment in Africa, strengthening technical training and helping African countries improve self-development ability.
African friends complimented China for implementing the achievements of the Summit in such an efficient manner, saying that they had been convinced by China's pledge, sincerity and actions to help Africa develop and improve the lives of its people. The actions declared by President Hu on different occasions were warmly applauded. The African leaders commented that China is a trust-worthy and reliable partner. Both sides will strengthen coordination so as to turn the cooperation projects into great successes. Africa expects to consolidate cooperation with China in trade, investment, infrastructure, agriculture, resources, energy, health, medical treatment, human resources and other fields.
Li believed that President Hu's tour has vigorously advanced the pragmatic and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa for the achievements of the Beijing Summit have been implemented in many areas during this tour. President Hu mentioned on a number of occasions "to enable the African countries and people to benefit in the earliest possible time", a goal that can surely be reached.
The new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa will embrace a bright future
Li said that in the Beijing Summit, China and Africa agreed to establish a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges.
President Hu and the African leaders jointly planed the future development of China-Africa relations. Hu pointed out that China adheres to the policy and principle of sincerity and friendliness, equality and mutual benefit, solidarity and common development and is willing to work together with Africa to earnestly implement the achievements and consensus of the Beijing Summit, enhance mutual trust in politics, expand economic and trade cooperation, increase cultural exchanges, solidify international cooperation, and advance China-Africa relations toward higher levels and broader areas. Hu proposed that China and Africa learn from each other, promote joint development, jointly safeguard the interest of developing nations, and promote the building a harmonious world featuring lasting peace and common prosperity.
The African leaders spoke highly of China's African policies and called the cooperation between China and Africa "a new practice in international cooperation", "the cooperation based upon friendship, sincerity and mutual benefits", and "the model for the cooperation between nations". They appreciated the proposed policies and recommendations and said that consolidating the relationship with China is the strategic choice of African countries, which complies with the time and situation as well as the fundamental interest of the African people. South African President Mubeki said that economically China is the most important partner of South Africa, politically the consultations and cooperation with China are the wealth for South Africa in dealing with challenges, and in terms of Africa's rejuvenation, the cooperation with China and China's continued attention to Africa are of great significance to Africa. The eight nations all expressed their adherence to the one-China policy and support to China's grand cause of reunification.
Li said that China and Africa have reached broad consensus on strengthening the all-round friendly cooperation and furthering the new type of strategic partnership. Li quoted one sentence told by President Hu to journalists in South Africa, "I'm convinced that with the concerted efforts of both sides, the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa will surely embrace a brighter future."
To play constructive roles in promoting the peace and stability in the African region
During his visit to Sudan, President Hu expounded China's principle and position on the Darfur issue: China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sudan, adheres to resolving the Darfur issue by peaceful means through dialogues and equal consultations, and supports the African Union and the United Nations to play constructive roles. China also offered material assistance for the improvement of living conditions in Darfur. The Sudanese leaders thanked China for holding such a position and making such efforts to help Sudan achieve peace and stability and indicated that they will make positive efforts to resolve the Darfur issue politically. In response to the concerns of the international community, President Hu expounded China's policies and positions on many different occasions. This is a good reflection of China's sincerity in supporting Africa to achieve peace and stability with concrete actions, in supporting African countries join hands to pursue the rejuvenation of Africa, and in supporting Africa to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development.
To advance China-Africa relations and benefit the Africa people
Li said that President Hu will go to visit the Chinese citizens working in Africa and the representatives of overseas Chinese in every of the eight countries he visited. He required the diplomats to bear their mission in mind and work hard to promote the development of China-Africa relations and safeguard the interests of the Chinese citizens. He instructed the Chinese-funded enterprises to pursue reputation and quality, take active actions to work and live in harmony with the local people, earnestly undertake social responsibilities and help the African people improve their lives. He inspired the Chinese peacekeepers to carry forward their outstanding traditions, fulfill their peacekeeping tasks, perform their sacred missions and safeguard the global peace. He encouraged the Chinese medical teams to improve their medical expertise, heal the wounded, rescue the dying, and serve the local people. The Chinese staffs were greatly inspired and indicated that they will never fail the expectations of the country and will work hard in their respective posts to implement President Hu's instructions of "making greater contributions to developing China-Africa relations and benefiting the African people". President Hu asked the overseas Chinese to carry forward the good tradition of the Chinese nation of working hard and being kind, pay attention to protecting self-safety, and consolidate solidarity and mutual help. The people present were greatly moved by President Hu's remarks.
Li said that the African leaders all spoke highly of President Hu's eight-nation African tour, saying that the tour was a historical one and a milestone for bilateral relations. Hu's visit was widely covered by the media of the eight countries. Some newspaper published special issues and some TV even broadcast the tour live, commenting positively on the significance and achievements of Hu's visits and stressing that China-Africa relationship is a type of cooperative relationship based upon equality and mutual respects. The local people even called Hu's visit "the pride of our country".
Li pointed out that President Hu's eight-nation tour is a journey of friendship, which fulfilled the goal of consolidating the traditional friendship between China and Africa, implementing the achievements of the Beijing Summit, expanding pragmatic cooperation, and promoting common development. It is an important chapter in the annals of China-Africa relations. It had shown to the world that a China that is walking on the path of peaceful, harmonized and scientific development is an important force for the promotion of peace and development of the world. The Chinese nation will make new and important contributions to the progress of human civilizations.