Chinese newspaper People's Daily hailed as "an unusually grand occasion and very fruitful" the successful meeting of the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, which was held in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on Monday and Tuesday.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao addressed the opening ceremony of the forum attended by his Ethiopian host counterpart, Meles Zenawi, a dozen of African heads of state or government, 70 government ministers from China and 44 African nations, and representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and other international and regional organizations.
The forum was an unusually grand occasion and very fruitful as it promoted the mutually beneficial cooperation and enhanced the friendship between China and African countries, the People's Daily, organ of the Communist Party of China, said in an editorial to be published on Wednesday.
The 2nd Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum marked the first time that the conference had been held on the African continent, jointly hosted by China and Ethiopia, the paper said.
Consolidating and developing the friendship between China and Africa and promoting the mutually beneficial cooperation were the main themes of the forum.
The forum reviewed the follow-up actions and progress made by the two sides both in the political and economic areas since its first ministerial conference in Beijing in 2000.
It also discussed and adopted the Addis Ababa Action Plan of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (2004-2006), which sets up a framework for the cooperation between the two sides in the next three years.
In their discussions, state leaders and government ministers also focused on new ideas and new methods for boosting the China-Africa cooperation in the political, economic and social development fields, and reached mutual understanding on a wide range of issues.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs from China and Africa also agreed on a number of cooperation programs, the paper said. China and African nations decided to make joint efforts to build a new, long-term, stable and mutually beneficial partnership of all-around cooperation, said the editorial.
Premier Wen's presence at the conference marks the first visit to Africa by the new Chinese leadership, shows that China attaches great importance to the unity and cooperation with the developing countries, and lays a solid foundation for the new China-Africa partnership.
Premier Wen delivered an important speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, making four proposals on the promotion of China-Africa cooperation under the new circumstances.
l To promote further development of China-Africa traditional friendship through mutual support. The Chinese government is ready to further expand high-level exchanges between the two sides, and provide new impetus to China-Africa friendly relations and the mechanism of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum through regular leadership meetings and dialogues;
l To promote democratization of international relations through intensified consultation. China and Africa share the same goal and interests in promoting democratization of international relations. China supports Africa's position on multilateralism. The international community should intensify consultation, work to maintain a diversified world, and facilitate mutual exchanges and emulation among different civilizations and modes of development;
l To jointly meet the challenges of globalization through coordination of positions and call on the international community to take steps to help the developing countries in overcoming difficulties and enhancing their capacity for self-improvement, environmental protection and sustainable development. The Chinese government supports and will actively participate in the South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue. China is ready to coordinate its positions with African countries in the process of international economic rules formulation and multilateral trade negotiations, with a view to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries;
l And to turn a new page in China-Africa friendly relations through enhanced cooperation. To facilitate pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa, the Chinese government will gradually increase its aid to Africa under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. China will further open the market, grant duty-free market access to some of the commodities from the least developed countries in Africa, increase the capital investment to the African Human Resources Development Fund by 33 percent and provide professional training of various kinds to 10,000 African personnel in the next three years.
China will also encourage and facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation between Chinese and African enterprises, and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa. China will grant eight more African countries the status of approved destination for outbound Chinese tourists and propose to stage a "China-Africa Youth Festival" and Africa-themed cultural exchange activities in China next year, Wen said.
Premier Wen's speech shows China's long-standing sincere, friendly, equal and cooperative policy toward Africa, and wins unanimous appreciation from the delegates to the conference.
The success of the conference indicates that the cooperation between China and Africa is vigorous in the new situation, and reflects the strong aspiration of China and African countries for seeking common development.
In the past half century, China and African nations have always showed sympathy with and support to each other and established profound friendship in their struggle for national independence and liberation. The two sides have also gained great cooperative achievements in economic development, and the traditional friendship fostered by Chinese and African leaders has paved the way for further all-around cooperation between the two sides.
In the face of the complicated and changing international situation, seeking a peaceful and stable environment for development has become a common desire of China, African nations and other developing countries. China and African nations set up the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2000 to cope with the challenges.
In the past three years, the high-level exchanges between China and African countries have intensified, and the two sides' cooperation in international affairs has also expanded. The establishment of the forum has provided an important platform for the further development of the China-Africa friendship, not only benefiting two sides, but also setting a good example for boosting unity and cooperation among developing countries.
The China-Africa friendship has a long history and the cooperation between the two sides has great potential to be tapped. Guided by the principle of "pragmatic cooperation and geared to actions," the friendly cooperation between China and African countries will surely gain greater achievements.
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2003)