Speech by H.E. Mr. Liu Guangyuan at the Annual IREN Eastern Africa Media Training Programme
(09: 30, March 10, 2011, Pan Africa Hotel)
2011/03/10

Mr. James Shikwati,

Dear friends from the Media,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to attend this Annual IREN Eastern Africa Media Training Programme. Many thanks to Mr. Shikwati and IREN for hosting this event, and for all the great work you have been doing to support and nurture the development of journalism in Kenya and Eastern Africa.

Before I came to this seminar, I carefully went through all the 52 questions you had raised to me, they are indeed very good questions. I have roughly divided them into 5 major aspects, about which I do wish to share a few ideas and my humble thoughts with you today. I hope this will help you get a better understanding of China as well as China-Africa relations.

First, Chinese and African people share a great number of similarities while differences are fewer than others think.

It is obvious that both of Chinese and African people share many connections and similarities in cultures, ways of doing things, values of judging the world, and goals to achieve. Both Chinese and African people are honest, optimistic, hardworking, hospitable, courageous and open-minded. These common characteristics and virtues are reflected by our similar historical experience to fight colonialism, the friendship we forged during our common struggle for national independence, for the common task of development we face to benefit our people and for the strategic interests we share to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

I am not going to deny that differences certainly exist between us. Even closest friends and brothers sometimes have different opinions. What we need to do is to seek common ground while reserving differences by mingling well to get better understanding for each other. Some biased and unfair media coverages do lead to misunderstanding of African people towards China. Seeing is believing. I believe that our African friends are wise and objective enough to tell the right and wrong by visiting and experiencing the real China. Back in 1970s and 1980s, not many Chinese visited Africa and Chinese TV stations used a lot of image and video provided by the western media so that Chinese people thought Africa was a place of diseases, poverty and deserts. Now everything has changed due to our right, objective and proper publicity of Africa all these years. Nowadays, more and more Chinese are coming to Africa as tourists, businessmen, and students with the knowledge that Africa is a beautiful, energetic and promising continent. It is an unstoppable trend that African countries are united to pursue stability and development.

I am happy to see that African people are getting more interested in China. The Chinese government encourages more African media friends to visit China and to bring China closer to the African people. The Chinese embassy is willing and ready to facilitate this venture and provide all necessary support.

Second, China's assistance and investment to Africa has played a significant role in promoting Africa's economic and social development.

Ever since 1949, China has been offering sincere, trustworthy and friendly assistance to Africa and never attached any political conditions to such assistance. This principle was announced as early as 1964 by Premier Zhou Enlai, and we have always been sticking to it. Such principle is also a key distinction from other international aid to Africa. The purpose of China's assistance is pure and selfless; to help African countries with their social and economic development and improvement of their people's living standard. Meanwhile, the majority of China's assistance is in government-to-government model by non-currency delivery. We focus on concrete programmes such as infrastructure, livelihood projects, education, healthcare etc, from which the people can see and feel, can benefit directly. Forum on China-Africa Cooperation established at the beginning of the new century and meeting every 3 years; Chinese and African leaders will sit together to discuss the ways and means to assist each other and to gain win-win cooperation. This forum has contributed tremendously in promoting China-Africa strategic partnership.

China's friendly assistance has won praises from governments and people all over Africa and contributed tremendously in promoting China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, political mutual trust and all-round strategic partnership.

Apart from assistance, China's investment to Africa has also play a big role in promoting Africa's development. By August 2010, China had seen more than 2000 of its companies set up their branches in Africa, with various categories of investments amounting to USD 32.3 billion, taking up 10% of China's total investment to foreign countries. China's investment to Africa, especially that in infrastructure, has seen an impressive list that includes roads, railways, schools, hospitals, telecommunication, clean energy and technology. Compared to assistance, investment is a more constructive way to achieve common development on a much larger scale, by bringing in technology, skills, management conceptions and employment opportunities to our fellow African countries. For the purpose to further facilitate investment to Africa, it is my wish that African countries could provide a better environment for China's investment, by offering more convenience for visa applications, speeding up project approval process and enhancing capacity building. Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of African Union Commission wrote an article titled "China Gives Africa Hope", in which he emphasizes that China-Africa cooperation is win-win cooperation and both must work together and learn from each other.

Here I wish to emphasize one point that China-Africa agricultural cooperation has a promising future. China has made a great achievement by managing to feed 20% of world's population with less than 9% of world's farmland. We have abundant softwares and hardwares that Africa needs to fulfill its dream of becoming the world's "bread basket". The Hybrid Rice technology invented by the agricultural expert Dr. Yuan Longping can produce 3600 kilo of rice per acre and has lifted tens of thousands of Chinese out of famine. Dr. Yuan Longping opened the first training class for Kenya and other African countries last May. China is ready to invest more to Africa in rice growing, fish breeding, vegetables planting and machines and facilities. All these are closely linked to African people's basic needs and welfare.

Third, Trade between China and Africa is mutually beneficial.

The past decade has seen one of the most significant growth in China-Africa trade relations since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Our two-way trade has surged from USD 10 billion in 2000 to a historic USD 100 billion in 2008, of which USD 50.8 billion is China's exports to Africa and USD 56 billion is imports from Africa, indicating a good trade balance. Although China-Africa trade volume dropped to USD 91.07 billion in 2009 as a result of the international financial crisis, China became Africa's largest trade partner in that year for the first time. As the global economy recovered, our trade maintained a favorable recovery and development momentum. China-Africa trade volume reached USD 126.9 billion in 2010, accounting for 4% of China's total foreign trade.

Following the principle of mutual benefit and reciprocity, China has been promoting trade facilitation, and an all-round, comprehensive and balanced China-Africa trade for years. Since 2005, China has offered the least developed countries in Africa with China zero tariffs on some of their exports to China. This favorable treatment had increased to 4700 taxable items and allowed USD 1.32 billion worth of African products exported to China by 2010.

China is also fighting fake and low-quality products home and abroad. Most recently, Ministry of Commerce of China, together with other seven Ministries, initiated a joint campaign in fighting the fake and improving the quality of Chinese products so as to bring back the fame of Chinese foreign trade products. Some fake goods did flow from China to Africa, but the fact is clear that the majority of Chinese goods are of good quality with low prices. The Chinese government has declared war against the fake products, so our African friends now have every reason to believe that the products from China are good, safe, genuine and reliable. While China is controlling its export source, I think it is time for governments of African countries to do something in monitoring and supervising their import gate. Local dealers must be taught and warned not to import fake products of low costs for high profits. Please inform us whenever a fake case is revealed, so that joint efforts could be taken.

Fourth, there are many reasons that China and Africa must be friends, brothers, and partners.

One; our longstanding friendship has a profound historical trace. As early as two centuries B.C., Chinese Han Dynasty began exchanges with African countries. More than 1000 years ago, Chinese Tang Dynasty started exchanges with Africa. The most important ancient period of China-Africa exchanges was in Chinese Ming Dynasty when official visits took place, marked by the Chinese great navigator Zheng He's visit to Africa during his seven voyages to the Western Seas over 600 years ago. History and traditions have brought us together with a bond that is deeply rooted in each other's hearts and souls.

Two; the common historical fate and experience in fighting colonialism and striving for national independence has brought us together. We are both deeply aware of the truth that backwardness and poverty leave one vulnerable to attack. That's why we have been sticking together and helping each other. We know well that China-Africa friendship was jointly developed by Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and the older generation of African statesmen. It is an invaluable political asset and tradition for both of us and it gives us a unique strategic advantage. We have every reason to cherish it, uphold it and let it grow even stronger. China shall never forget that it was our African brothers who "carried" us into UN in 1971 and have been extending to us generous support ever since on every international and multilateral front. Without your support, we would by no means become the very China today. We do feel we owe you a lot, thus we shall keep on offering the same generosity and sincerity. Solidarity and cooperation with African countries is always the very basis and point of departure of China's foreign policy. We have always given respect to the sovereignty and development paths of African countries and never interfered in your internal affairs. We have always followed the principle of equality and mutual benefit in conducting cooperation with foreign countries.

Three, we have much to share in order to overtake our common challenges and realize our common development goals at present stage. China still remains the largest developing country of the world while Africa is the continent with the greatest number of developing countries. China is consistently emerging as one of the best choices to do business in Africa. We are delighted to see that Africa has so much to achieve in the future. When China was a poor country in the past, we regarded African countries as our best friends. When China is gaining fast development, we think the same and will work jointly with you to achieve harmony and common prosperity. This will never change with the development of China's economy, or the changes in China's international standing, or the changes of the international situation.

Fifth, only African people can make proper judgments on China's existence in Africa.

When China-Africa relationship is moving forward and the African people rejoice at its progress, some in the world seem to be not very comfortable with this and are saying that China is no longer a developing country, that China no longer needs Africa or thinks of Africa as important and that China will team with someone to jointly "manage" the world. Some have gone so sensational as to claim that China is repeating the colonial path of exploiting Africa. I am not going to explain anything, because I know that actions speak louder than words and seeing is believing. It is for the African people to judge whether China is good or bad for them. Actually, the recent survey conducted even by some western media shows that China is the most favored country for Africa. We Chinese are born to have an introverted personality, preferring doing rather than saying. Of course, we should try to change a little bit in this aspect by improving our publicity and raising our voices. More support and understanding from our African friends are most needed and deeply appreciated, especially those from the African media friends.

Above are some of my personal ideas. I do hope they can bring you something inspiring. Africa is not new to me, for I was posted in Ghana and Nigeria in my early career life as a diplomat (My son was "made in Nigeria") and now my first post as Ambassador happily and luckily is in Kenya. I find myself bonded with Africa with deep affection and have inevitably fallen in love with this beautiful continent as well as its great people. I shall do whatever I can to contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity of Africa and its unbreakable ties with my dear motherland. I firmly believe that, through our joint efforts, we make a better tomorrow for both China and Africa!

Thank you very much!!

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