Nduduzo Tshuma in Pretoria, South Africa
President Robert Mugabe arrived here yesterday evening to attend the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, on Friday and Saturday.
He landed at the Waterkloof Military Airport in Pretoria where he was welcomed by South African Information Minister Faith Muthambi and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo.
President Mugabe is accompanied by the ministers of foreign affairs, finance and industry and commerce Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Patrick Chinamasa and Mike Bimha respectively.
The President had earlier been seen off at the Harare International Airport by the two Vice presidents Cdes Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, ministers, senior government officials and service chiefs.
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The Johannesburg summit, being held under the theme, “China-Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development,” comes following the conclusion of a two day State visit to Zimbabwe by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The two countries signed 12 landmark agreements to fund vital projects in key economic sectors.
The summit is the second in the 15 year history of FOCAC and the first on the African continent after the Beijing Summit in 2006.
In a statement last week ahead of his two day State visit to Zimbabwe, President Xi said he looked forward to joining African leaders at the FOCAC Summit, “and working with them to advance our friendship and cooperation, lift China-Africa solidarity to a new high and build a better future for China-Africa friendship and cooperation.”
President Xi said consolidation of relations with Zimbabwe and other African nations remained a cornerstone of China’s foreign policy.
“In conducting China’s relations with Africa, we adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests,” said President Xi.
“We’ll work with Zimbabwe and all other friendly African nations to pave a broader and more solid road of mutual benefit and common development for China and Africa.”
President Xi said China values the important contribution to the solidarity and development of Africa that Zimbabwe has made after President Mugabe assumed the chairmanship of the African Union.
According to reports, over the past 15 years, the trade volume between China and Africa has soared from US$10 billion to US$220 billion. During the same period, China’s direct investment in Africa has sharply increased from US$500 million to US$30 billion.
There are over 3,000 Chinese companies running their businesses in Africa.
According to a recent World Bank report, since the turn of the century, sub-Saharan region has maintained robust economic growth which would otherwise be impossible without its economic ties with China
Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Tian Xuejun was recently quoted in the media saying, the summit will further synergize China and Africa’s respective development strategies.
“Both China and Africa are at the crucial stage of development and have formulated ambitious development strategies. China has put forward the two centenary goals and the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee has proposed the 13th Five-Year Programme,” he said.
“The African Union has adopted Agenda 2063 and its first Ten-Year Implementation Plan. China and Africa are moving forward in the same direction. During the upcoming summit, leaders of China and Africa will gather in South Africa to discuss the ways to further align China and Africa’s development strategies and map out the new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation.”
The Ambassador said, during the summit, China will announce new measures of cooperation with Africa for the next three years, “which is both a tradition and a defining feature of FOCAC.”
“These new measures will directly serve the development strategies of both sides. Priorities will be given to address two major bottlenecks constraining Africa’s development, namely the backward infrastructure and the lack of professionals,” he said.
“Moreover, China will focus on issues concerning African people’s wellbeing, like food, employment and health, and strengthen cooperation in such major areas as industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure building, public health and poverty reduction, investment and trade facilitation, people-to-people exchanges, peace and security and green development.”
Tian said China is the largest contributor of peacekeepers in Africa among all the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
“As we speak, 90% of China’s overseas peacekeepers are performing duties in Africa and the accumulated number has reached over 30,000. China also actively engages in the international counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast. Up to now, China has sent 21 batches of all together 60 vessels and escorted over 6,000 ships,” he said.
“China is actively implementing the “Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security” and has provided military and financial assistance to the AU for peacekeeping missions in relevant countries and the building of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis.”
President Xi announced at the UN General Assembly in September that China will in the coming five years provide free military aid of US$100 million to the African Union to support the building of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis.