Remarks to Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (as delivered)
Beijing, 19 July 2012
It is a great honour for me to participate on behalf of the United Nations at this important Forum on China-Africa cooperation. I thank the Government of China and the people for their kind invitation and warm hospitality.
I commend the leadership of President Hu Jintao in organizing this forum at this very important time in Beijing.
I also thank the Government of Egypt for their contribution and leadership and for co-chairing this FOCAC during the last several years.
As the largest developing country, and as the region with the largest number of developing countries, China and Africa have a lot in common.
Both share the same aspirations for peace, development and dignity for all.
Both believe in working together for the common good – including through South-South cooperation, which the United Nations has strongly promoted and advocated for many, many years.
This is especially important in today’s economic climate. The global economic slowdown and the European sovereign debt crisis are impacting traditional donor support in many countries.
At the same time, South-South cooperation is expanding steadily.
Traditional donor support and South-South cooperation each have different strengths and limitations. North-South cooperation commitments must be met to advance development. South-South cooperation is an increasingly important complement to this. Both forms of cooperation are essential.
China and African countries see their future well-being as closely linked with integration in the global economy and marketplace.
So it is no surprise that you who fill this Great Hall today have entered into a strategic partnership for the future.
Of course, ties between China and Africa date back to antiquity.
Trade along the Silk Road raised mutual awareness of their respective riches.
In the 15th century, Chinese sailors reached East Africa.
In our own time, China provided strong support for African independence movements, while Africa has been firmly behind the growing role of China in international affairs.
Today this relationship of equality and mutual benefit is scaling new heights.
China has become Africa’s major trading partner.
China's exports to Africa increased dramatically last year, as did imports from Africa.
In fact, last year Africa had a trade surplus with China.
Thousands of exports from Africa’s Least Developed Countries have received zero-tariff treatment.
China has cancelled significant amounts of African debt. Much of its development assistance goes to Africa. And China continues to provide much-needed financing to meet the very large demands for capital investment, especially for infrastructure.
Africa, for its part, is investing in China, on a smaller scale.
This deepening partnership is bringing gains to both sides.
It is creating opportunities for African countries to diversify their economies, create jobs, and improve health care and education.
It is contributing to the world economy at a time when traditional drivers are in economic downturn.
Yet even more can be done. I see three areas where this Forum can build on progress to date.
First, making deeper inroads against poverty.
We need to increase the development impact of trade and infrastructure projects, especially for the benefit of women and young people.
I am pleased to note that this Forum places a high priority on food security. The work you are doing is closely aligned with the “Zero Hunger Challenge”, which I announced at last month’s Rio+20 conference, and which seeks a world of resilient food systems.
It is significant that this Forum will convene again in 2015, the target year for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. I urge you to focus on poverty reduction and social development so that by then, more people here and in Africa will see the difference in their lives.
We have very serious, very important responsibility to establish sustainable development goals built upon the Millennium Development Goals. I have already started to work together with the Member States to establish sustainable development goals in close coordination with the Member States. And I am going to establish a high-level panel of eminent persons whose political and professional visions will give this input to this process. I will count on the leadership of Africa and China fully engaged and to back their leadership in this process.
Second, strengthening African capacity.
China has already trained thousands of African officials in recent years. Many African students graduate from Chinese universities. I encourage China to continue sharing this knowledge. Africa looks to China not only as a source of funds and trade, but also as a source of technology and innovation. Many Chinese experts, volunteers and businessmen contribute to development in Africa.
Third, building green economies.
Many African countries and China have been promoting green initiatives as part of their development strategies. I encourage you to continue this effort, and help us to sustain the momentum generated by last month’s successful Rio+20 summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro.
I am very encouraged that Chinese and African business and financial leaders are involved my Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
China is a world leader in solar and wind energy. It has taken great strides toward improving its carbon intensity and energy efficiency. And it has developed many low-cost, low-tech alternatives with great potential for the world’s rural areas.
Many African countries are also moving ahead with renewable energy innovations.
All of you in this audience face growing demands for energy. Countries that embrace sustainable energy will improve public health, safeguard the environment, increase prosperity and reduce the risk of climate change. Energy is the golden thread that weaves together these and other key concerns starting from climate change, food security, water scarcity, gender empowerment, urbanization and many other issues. They are all interlinked. If we had sustainable energy, these can be solved all at once. I look forward to working with you to realize the great potential of our efforts in this area.
The United Nations is strongly committed to this process: to supporting China-Africa partnership and cooperation. The United Nations system is intensifying its collaboration with China on South-South cooperation in ways that benefit the countries of Africa.
Here in China and across Africa, we will continue connecting those who face challenges with those who have solutions. We will deepen our already close ties with the African Union, NEPAD and the continent’s regional and sub-regional organizations.
The road ahead will be challenging.
Africans are determined to sustain a decade of impressive economic growth and make a decisive break from conflicts and military coups.
China is determined to build on its remarkable gains.
This Forum has an important role to play. I commend the growing emphasis you place on people-to-people exchanges.
Durable peace, truly sustainable development, a future of prosperity and dignity for all: this is our common agenda – China, Africa and the United Nations can work together to realize a world where all people – men and women, old and young – can live with dignity, peace and prosperity. I count on your leadership.
Statements on 19 July 2012