Welcoming Address for Minister Lindiwe Sisulu at the Opening Session of the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC, Beijing, China, 2 September, 2018
Honourable State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Wang Yi and Honourable Minister of Commerce, Mr Gao Hucheng
Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Rob Davies
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
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to thank Minister Wang Yi and the people of the People’s Republic of China for their warm welcome and the facilities provided, indeed excellent by any standard.
We gather today to reflect on how the FOCAC Forum has performed since the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Action (2016-2018) at the last Summit in South Africa in 2015. We find that the record of implementation is most satisfactory, with approximately 90% of the $60 billion pledged now allocated to projects. We also find that many of the commitments undertaken under the ten new cooperation measures announced by President Xi have been implemented or are in the process of being completed.
We also gather here today to see how the FOCAC Forum can be further strengthened to continue to advance common growth and development even more effectively – growth and development that is mutually beneficial to the peoples of the People’s Republic of China and the African Continent. And achieve the win - win outcome envisaged by my counterpart Minister Wang Yi.
We hope that, through our engagements today, we can continue to forge closer cooperation, exchange experiences and best practices to assist our respective regions to progress.
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 exchanges. We need to further strengthen these important facets of human development.
In the coming years; both China and Africa aspire to reach new milestones. The quest for industrialisation, skills development, FDI in manufacturing, beneficiation, agro-processing and skills transfer programmes will provide ample opportunity for advancing the interests of our two regions in a mutually beneficial manner.
For our part, Africa has taken decisive and tangible steps to determine its own destiny and we have adopted Agenda 2063, which is our 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 Flagship Programmes are designed to achieve the following key deliverables, amongst others:
1. Improving railway connectivity,
2. Improving road infrastructure, sea ports and air transportation,
3. Investing in a well-developed ICT and digital economy, and
4. Developing agriculture and agro-processing
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 need to ensure that FOCAC also serves to support our continental and regional initiatives, programmes and projects.
In this regard we continue to 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.
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 at the source; by modernising how we utilize our land; and by ensuring that we provide our people with the skills and opportunities that will ultimately lead to quality job creation, particularly for the youth and women.
We are living in an era of global competitiveness and cutting edge technological advancement. It is the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The People’s Republic of China has proven to possess the competitive edge, technological innovation and workmanship capable of partnering with Africa to advance the cause of peace, prosperity and mutual benefits. The FOCAC Partnership 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, we will provide the future we seek together. I have the utmost faith that we will not disappoint our peoples in this process. Future generations need to agree that it was here that we ensured the sustainable prosperity of China and Africa.
I Thank You.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo building
460 Soutpansberg Road