Speech by Ambassador Zhang Ming in the Public Lecture on China-Africa Relations

April 24th, Nairobi. The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, H.E. Zhang Ming, attended The Public Lecture on China-Africa Relations held by HEINRICH BOLL FOUNDATION at Safari Club Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. The following is the speech by the Ambassador.

Dr. Axel Harneit-Sievers, Director of Regional Office for East & Horn of Africa of HEINRICH BOLL FOUNDATION (HBF)

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

I feel greatly honored to attend this public lecture on China-Africa relations, and I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Axel Harneit-Sievers for the kind invitation to me and for your sponsor for the Chinese-African Civil Society Dialogue.

China-Africa relation has become a very hot topic not only in the continent, in China, but around the world. Proudly, I want to tell you that the traditional China-Africa relations started from Kenya, when a Chinese Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, 600 years ago, sent a large fleet of 200 ships and 20000 sailors led by the great Chinese navigator Zheng He across the oceans to visit the east coast of Africa 4 times. They visited Mombassa, Malindi, Lamu, and other coastal towns. At that time, China was a real 'superpower' with its GDP representing 70% of the world's total. They came to Africa around 90 years before the fames Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama and brought with them to the local people a message of peace and goodwill, silk and porcelain, and left back for China with the same message of peace and goodwill, flavorings, herbs and a pair of giraffe that stands for auspicious in Chinese culture.

The modern China-Africa relations have been launched since the 50s of the last century. Over the past 50 years, China and Africa have exchanged sympathy, understandings, support and assistance to each other in the national liberation, in the cause of maintaining peace and safeguarding the national sovereignty, in promoting economical and social development. Now, especially after the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC), which was held in Beijing in November 2006, China and Africa have established and are constantly developing a new type of strategic partnership, featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.

China is the biggest developing country in the world and the African continent encompasses the largest number of developing countries. The two sides, working hand in hand, have common interests in many fields including maintaining peace and promoting development.

I like the theme of the discussion, but with your permission, Dr.Harneit-Sievers, I humbly change one word "in" into "and": China and Africa: Opportunities and Challenges. Because China-Africa relations are growing in a cooperating, mutual benefiting and interactive way. We can say China is in Africa and Africa is in China as well. China and Africa, cooperating with each other, are faced with both opportunities and challenges under the new circumstances. I believe the discussion under the theme will be helpful for both China and Africa to seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges.

Also, I like the event as "China-Africa Civil Society Dialogue" sponsored by a European NGO, because it might be helpful for China, Africa and the Western world to understand each other deeper and better, so that they could work together for maintaining peace and promoting development in the continent. Here, I'd like to send a message to the European friends that China- Africa cooperation is an important component of international cooperation for development. Such cooperation is the mutual assistance between developing countries within the south-south cooperation framework, which is neither targeted at any third party nor threats the interest of any country. China, American and European countries share common wishes to help Africa achieve peace and development and therefore enjoy a broad space for cooperation. China takes an open, constructive and inclusive attitude to work together with the international community, including America, EU, India, Japan and etc, to make efforts toward the peace and development of Africa.

Before I conclude my remarks, I'd like to express my appreciation to the idea of "Civil Society Dialogue" and my pleasure for a group of Chinese scholars specialized on African Studies are invited to the Dialogue. Over the past 30 years since China adopted the policy of openness and reforms, China has made great progress in the political, economical and social fields. The civil society of China has witnessed great and fast growth, too. Now, there are around 400,000 civil society organizations registered in China, they are playing an active and important role in the political, economical, social and cultural life in China as well as in the international arena.

I am pleased that you, as representatives of the civil society from Africa, China and Europe sit together to share your views and information on China-Africa relations, which, I believe, will help promote the mutual understanding between the two sides or 3 sides.

Today, we are in a new era, the ear of Globalization. In the era, peoples and countries need more and more communication, exchanges and mutual understanding than ever before, rather than un-rational attacks, defamation, humiliation, misunderstanding and suspicion. Such communication should not be limited within diplomats and politicians, but through the civil society organizations as well.

At last, I'd like to express my congratulations on the convening of the Public Lecture and Discussion and I believe it'll give us inspiration to turn challenges into more opportunities.

Wish you a great success! Thank you.

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