Xi calls for greater Sino-African ties
Updated: 2012-07-11 07:58
By Cheng Guangjin in Suzhou, Jiangsu (China Daily)
Vice-President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called on China and Africa to elevate their economic ties to a new level, at a time when the pace of restructuring in both economies is picking up pace.
Two African delegates view pictures during the opening ceremony of the Second China-Africa People's Forum in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Tuesday. Vice-President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. Feng Yongbin / China Daily
Xi made the remarks when addressing the opening ceremony of the Second China-Africa People's Forum, attended by about 300 delegates from China and 35 African states, held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Suzhou, a tourist resort and economic hub in East China.
"Both China and Africa are picking up the pace in restructuring their respective economies, rendering the two sides in greater reciprocal demand with a broader convergence of interests," said Xi.
"This signifies new opportunities for our win-win cooperation."
Xi urged the two sides to make full use of these new opportunities, expand the size and optimize the structure of China-Africa trade and mutual investment, and cultivate new areas of cooperation and new sources of growth.
The two sides should also improve the quality and enhance the level of trade and economic ties to provide a solid foundation for overall China-Africa cooperation, Xi said.
Xi noted that the keystone for China-Africa relations lies in the win-win results. "China has offered as much assistance as possible to African countries. On the other hand, China has also received strong support from Africa in many ways. Our assistance is mutual."
China is the largest trading partner of Africa, and Africa is the fourth-largest destination of China's overseas investment.
In 2011, China-Africa trade volume reached a record high of $166.3 billion. As of 2011, China's direct investment in Africa exceeded $14.7 billion. More than 2,000 businesses with Chinese investment are operating in Africa.
"These entities have not only created jobs for local people, but also provided community services," Xi said.
In a meeting with Xi before the forum opened, former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, speaking on behalf of the former leaders of five other African countries and two first ladies, hailed China's "long-term important contribution in safeguarding and promoting Africa's peace and development".
"Africa sincerely welcomes and fully supports China to realize bigger development and firmly believes China's development will bring more opportunities to Africa and the whole world," Obasanjo said.
Talking about the win-win cooperation between China and Africa, Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, China's special representative on African affairs, stressed the importance of using the local African labor force.
Traditional Chinese entrepreneurs brought their own people to Africa for easy management and low cost, said Zhong, noting that it is no longer good for them to do so, for reasons that include the rising cost of labor in China.
"Using local labor is the only way for Chinese investment," said Zhong, suggesting that more training be given to African local technicians and workers.
Liu Hongwu, dean of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, said Africa is right now at a crossroads as "the strong demand for labor, markets, resources and land from newly emerging economies, including China, brings a special opportunity for African countries to develop".
"Africa should learn from China, be a partner of China with clear goals and realize a common development with China," said Michel Joseph Mongo, secretary-general of Foundation Congo Assistance.