|Remarks by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the High-Level Event on Africa's Development Needs|
(New York, 22 September 2008)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year is the year of mid-term review of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is of special significance that we are having the high-level meeting on Africa's development needs at this time, as this will help all parties review the delivery of their commitments to Africa's development, evaluate Africa's development needs and challenges and offer assistance and support to the accelerated development of Africa.
In today's world, peace, stability and development are the shared aspiration of people of all countries. However, the world is not trouble-free. While traditional hotspot issues remain unresolved, new conflicts break out from time to time. Non-traditional security issues are growing more serious, including terrorist threats, spread of diseases, environmental degradation and widening income gaps. Economic globalization presents both opportunities and challenges to developing countries.
In recent years, the peace and security situation in Africa has kept improving and steady progress has been made in regional cooperation and its integration process. Africa has maintained fairly rapid economic growth. Its terms of trade have improved, its debt burden eased further and its governance capacity strengthened. Africa is now showing an encouraging momentum of accelerated development. At the same time, Africa is still faced with daunting challenges on the way ahead. Its peace and stability need to be consolidated, and its agricultural basis and food security need to be strengthened. Its weak infrastructure, lack of development finance and heavy burden of external debt affect the improvement of its investment climate and independent development capacity. The serious shortfalls in social services such as health and medical care, culture and education also make it more difficult to improve people's living standards.
African countries account for one quarter of the UN membership and 12 percent of the world's population, but only one percent of the world's total GDP and two percent of the global trade. Without the development of Africa, there would be no sustained development of the whole world. The international community should pay closer attention to the issues of Africa, listen to and respect its views, accommodate its concerns and support African governments and peoples in their development efforts.
First, it is important to safeguard peace and stability in Africa. Peace is the precondition and guarantee for development. At present, some African countries are still under threats of instability. The UN should play a positive role and urge all parties concerned to settle disputes through consultation and negotiation in order to maintain and consolidate peace and stability in Africa and create a favorable political environment for Africa's development. The international community should have a strong sense of urgency and mission to help African countries develop economy, eradicate poverty, improve the environment, promote social progress and remove the root causes of conflicts and instability in Africa.
Second, it is important to deliver on the commitments of assistance to Africa. Africa's development cannot be possible without the strong support of the international community. The international community, the developed countries in particular, should fully honor all assistance commitments to Africa and increase their official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7 percent of their national incomes. The developing countries should continuously deepen South-South cooperation and strengthen mutual help with Africa. In addition to government departments, all sectors in society should be mobilized to form synergies, and this includes encouraging businesses, non-governmental organizations and international organizations to give more support to Africa. Assistance should be relevant in such a way that meets the basic and long-term needs of African people. In providing assistance, it is important to respect the sovereignty of African countries, ensure the ownership, leadership and full policy space of recipient countries, and support the development paths and models that African countries choose according to their national conditions.
Third, it is important to step up capacity building for Africa. To achieve long-term development, African countries must rely on their own capacity. They need to formulate and translate into real action national development strategies suited to their respective conditions and strengthen capacity for sustainable development. The international community should offer African countries favorable conditions in debt relief, market access and technology transfer to help them overcome development obstacles. In the fields of global economy, finance and trade, it is important to provide African countries with an enabling external environment for their self-development, increase their voice and participation in international financial institutions, and make the international economic order more equitable.
Fourth, it is important to help Africa meet global challenges. In recent years, climate change, food crisis, financial turbulences and rising energy prices have not only increased uncertainties in world economic growth, but also posed new challenges to Africa's development. As all these issues bear on people's basic livelihood, failure to properly resolve them will erode African countries' poverty eradication efforts over the years. The international community should better appreciate African countries' concerns and desire and give them greater support by increasing substantive actions and strengthening consultation and coordination, and work together to meet global challenges and achieve win-win results through a genuine global partnership.
China is the largest developing country and Africa is the continent with the biggest concentration of developing countries. China-Africa cooperation is an important part of the South-South cooperation. The Chinese Government is firmly committed to strengthening its friendly cooperation with Africa and supporting Africa in achieving peace and development.
For over 50 years, the Chinese Government has provided assistance to Africa to the best of its capability. By the end of 2007, China had built nearly 900 infrastructure and public welfare projects, sent 16,000 medical personnel to 50 African countries, where they had treated nearly 190 million patients, provided over 20,000 government scholarships, and made US$4.46 billion of direct investments in Africa. Two-way trade between China and Africa reached US$73.31 billion in 2007.
Within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China has cancelled 308 debts of 34 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and Least Developed Countries in Africa and trained more than 22,000 professionals in various fields for Africa. The eight policy measures announced by the Chinese Government at the 2006 FOCAC Beijing Summit for enhancing practical cooperation between China and Africa and supporting Africa's development are now well under implementation and have produced important results. Facts have shown that through strengthened cooperation, China has played a positive role in Africa's economic and social development, expansion of employment and improvement of people's livelihood. We are glad to see that such cooperation has become a successful example of mutually beneficial South-South cooperation and provided new opportunities for the development of both China and Africa. China will continue to enhance communication and cooperation with African countries, ensure the successful implementation of the measures adopted at the Beijing Summit, and take effective steps to support Africa's development. This way, the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership will be advanced to the benefit of the Chinese and African people. In the next five years, China will provide further assistance and support to African countries in agriculture, education, public health, medical care and clean energy.
The 21st century is a development century. We sincerely hope the fruits of development will be shared by people in Africa and throughout the world, and we will truly live in a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity. China will continue to work with other countries to achieve this goal.
Thank you, Co-Chairmen.