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Statement by Ambassador Wang Yingfan, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, at the Security Council Public Meeting on the Situation of Africa

2002/01/29

Mr. President,

At the outset, let me, on behalf of Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of China, thank you for presiding over this meeting and welcome Mr. Amara Essy, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations and distinguished guests from other countries and regional organizations to be here today. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Delegation of Mauritius for having made arrangements for this meeting and prepared the guiding document.

Peace and development in the region of Africa has always been an issue of great concern to the Security Council. The United Nations has achieved progress, to different degrees, in its peace-keeping efforts in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and other places. The recently-declared official end of the civil war in Sierra Leone, for example, is attributable partly to the UN's peacekeeping role there. At the same time, we should also see that in some areas on the African continent, which are still plagued by armed conflicts, poverty, diseases and other problems, the situation remains grave. Today's meeting is an opportunity for the Security Council to have a direct exchange of views with representatives of the OAU as well as the African countries on the issue of Africa. It is of high importance to the strengthening of communication, cooperation and coordination between the Security Council and the OAU with a view to finding solutions for the issue of Africa.

Here, I would like to share with you my views on the following points.

I. Our world is diversified. The African continent is an important part of it. After long and unremitting struggles, most African countries won national independence by the middle of the 20th century. However, due to years of colonialism as well as other reasons, their economic foundation is extremely weak, education for their people is minimal and their socio-economic development has been hampered by many factors. After winning independence, many African countries have traversed a difficult path of twists and turns. At present, like many other places, Africa also faces the two tasks of peace and development. But, these two tasks take on different characteristics on the African continent and have a lot to do with its history, relations between countries and ethnic groups as well as the socio-economic realities there. Therefore, we believe that when discussing and seeking a solution to the African issue, we should never forget the realities in Africa and neglect its unique characteristics.

II. In 1998, the Secretary-General submitted the Report on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa, in which he put forward, on the basis of the root causes of African conflicts, a series of ideas and recommendations as to how to establish durable peace and promote economic development in Africa. He highlighted in his report that "the international community must summon the political will and take concrete action to intervene where it can to have an impact and invest where resources are needed". We fully agree with the Secretary-General on this point.

The United Nations Millennium Summit has clearly identified it as a priority for us to address the issue of peace and development in the African region. The Declaration and the Program of Action adopted at last year's World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Tolerance have also stressed that poverty and economic disparities are closely related to racism and racial discrimination. They have also contributed significantly to the underdevelopment of developing countries, especially African countries. And they are among the root causes as well as consequences of armed conflicts. After the September 11th event, the international community has come to realize that poverty and armed conflicts are also causes of terrorism. We believe that, only by increasing development aids to African countries and helping them develop economy and eradicate poverty can we lay a solid basis for a thorough solution to African conflicts. The Secretary-General's report, which I just mentioned, and the United Nations Millennium Declaration have already clearly provided many proposals and concrete objectives in this regard. The most important thing now is when and how to translate them into real action.

III. The OAU and other African sub-regional organizations are working hard to solve African regional conflicts and to promote economic development there. As a primary organ for maintaining world peace and security, the Security Council has squarely on its shoulders a responsibility to solve the issue of African conflicts. Therefore, we fully support the Security Council to strengthen its cooperation and coordination with the OAU and other sub-regional organizations and pay more attention to the will of the African people in the process of addressing the issue of African regional conflicts, so as to formulate relevant strategies to that end. The Security Council should take it into consideration to institutionalize its dialogue with the OAU. We also hope that the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in West Africa, which is to be inaugurated very soon, will play a positive role in promoting cooperation between the United Nations and the ECOWAS.

IV. Promoting peace and development in Africa and strengthening cooperation with African countries constitute an important part of China's foreign policy. In October 2000, China successfully hosted the China-Africa Forum on Cooperation in Beijing. The senior officials meeting and the ministerial meeting of the China-Africa Forum on Cooperation will be held in Ethiopia this year and next year respectively. Preparations for these two meetings are smoothly under way. The Chinese Government has always tried to provide necessary assistance to African countries to the best of its capacity. The China-Africa Forum on Cooperation has already identified the fields and some projects of cooperation between the two sides. The Chinese Government has also made a pledge on reducing and exempting debts owed by African countries to China. By now, more than 20 countries have signed with China the protocol on debt reduction and exemption. The Chinese Government has also decided recently to raise the level of China's participation in stand-by arrangements of UN peace-keeping operations. It means that China will take a more active part in peace-keeping operations in Africa. The Chinese Government will as always continue to strengthen its cooperation with African countries and make efforts to help find solutions to regional issues in Africa.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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