Welcome Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, H. E. Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), 3rd December 2015

Your Excellency, Mr Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China,
Honourable Colleague, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Rob Davies
Your Excellency, Mr Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce
Honourable Ministers of Foreign Affairs, International Relations and Cooperation, Economic Affairs and Commerce representing Africa
Honourable Heads of Delegation
Honourable Representatives of Observer Nations and Organisations
Distinguished Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of President Jacob Zuma, and the People and Government of the Republic of South Africa, please allow me to extend a warm welcome to this historic meeting of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

I am confident that, at this 15th Anniversary of the FOCAC strategic partnership, we will be vindicated in deciding to upgrade this 6th Ministerial meeting to Summit level – only the second Summit held and the first on African soil.

The Theme of this year’s Summit is entitled: “Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development”.  This clearly directs us to follow the principles of mutual cooperation and equality, as well as to further South-South cooperation and the consolidation of the African Agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen

The FOCAC Summit is also taking place at a time when the UN has taken stock of the Millennium Development Goals and has adopted Agenda 2030 as its Post-2015 Development Agenda; with the overriding purpose of creating a better life for all.  In this regard, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been adopted.

For our part, we have ensured that the SDGs are linked to the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063 with a vision to place the continent on a developmental path that will address Africa’s key challenges of poverty, inequality and under-development.

In this regard, Agenda 2063’s First 10-Year Implementation Plan is designed to achieve the following key deliverables, amongst others:

  • Improving railway connectivity,

  • Improving road infrastructure, sea ports and air transportation

  • Investing in a well-developed ICT and digital economy

  • Developing agriculture and agro-processing

It is our belief that the FOCAC Partnership has the potential to help us achieve both the SDGs and Agenda 2063, as well as the deliverables under the First Ten Year Implementation Plan, its flagship projects, and the programmes and projects outlined in NEPAD.

It is our firm and shared conviction that the FOCAC partnership is ready to be given a strategic boost to a significantly higher level of cooperation and achievement.

Apart from anything else, our partnership today covers a wide spectrum of activity and transcends cooperation on economic issues.  It has, for example, advanced over the years to cover issues of peace and security. We have seen the Government of the People’s Republic of China providing technical support and deployment of personnel in the United Nations (UN) Missions to Africa to assist in stabilising parts of the Continent in line with our objective to “Silence the Guns by 2020”.  President Xi also announced during the UNGA in New York in September that China would provide $100 million to the AU over the next four years to assist in the operationalization of the African Standby Force and ACIRC.

Your Excellencies

We have gathered today to reflect on how the FOCAC Forum can be used to advance common growth and development that is mutually beneficial to the peoples of the People’s Republic of China and the African Continent.

We hope, through our engagements today, that we can forge closer cooperation, exchange experiences and best practises to assist our respective regions to move another step forward.

In the People’s Republic of China, we are partnering with a country of huge manufacturing capacity, strong technological advancement and capacity in industrialisation.  Our relations with China have already made great strides in addressing Africa’s developmental challenges, ranging from education and training, to health care, infrastructure development, tourism and skills exchange. We need to strengthen these important facets of human development.

In the next ten years; both China and Africa aspire to reach new milestones. The quest for industrialisation, skills development, FDI in manufacturing, agro-processing and skills transfer programmes will provide ample opportunity for advancing the interests of our two regions in a mutually beneficial manner.

We need to ensure that, going forward, FOCAC continues to be an effective cooperative partnership that serves the core interests of all its members.

We look at the People’s Republic of China as a trusted development partner with a long–term strategic commitment to the African Continent; which equally supports Africa’s needs, while looking to its own. This perspective must gain more prominence to counter the misconstrued narrative that this is a one-sided self-serving relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are all well aware that Africa is endowed with vast resources of mineral, natural and human wealth. However, the challenge is to utilise these assets more effectively to transform the lives of all our people by not merely extracting, but by also processing and beneficiating; by modernising how we use the land; and by ensuring that we provide our people with the training, skills and opportunities that will ultimately lead to quality job creation, particularly for the youth.

We are living in an era of global competitiveness and cutting edge technological advancement. The People’s Republic of China has proven to possess the competitive edge and workmanship capable of partnering with Africa to advance the cause of peace, prosperity and mutual benefits.

The FOCAC Partnership surely appreciates the complementarities that can be harnessed between Africa and China in this regard.

In conclusion, it is within us collectively to elevate the FOCAC partnership to a high performing, results based mechanism. In the coming few days, through positive and constructive engagements, bilateral meetings, trade exhibitions, and cultural events we will provide a better picture of the future we seek together.  I have the utmost faith that we will not let our people down in this process.  Future generations will surely write that it was here at this historic time and place that we ensured a golden age for China and Africa.

I thank You.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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