| Officials attend the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, capital of China, July 19, 2012. The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) opened here on Thursday, as Chinese and African leaders gathered to discuss measures to deepen China-Africa ties. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)
BEIJING, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) opened here on Thursday, as Chinese and African leaders gathered to discuss measures to deepen China-Africa ties.
When addressing the opening ceremony, Chinese President Hu Jintao proposed a series of new measures in five priority areas to boost the China-Africa ties.
"In the next three years, the Chinese government will take measures in the following five priority areas to support the cause of peace and development in Africa and boost a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership," said Hu.
The Chinese side will expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa. China will provide 20 billion U.S. dollars of credit line to African countries to assist them in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
China will build more agricultural technology demonstration centers as necessary to help African countries increase production capacity. It will implement the "African Talents Program" to train 30,000 personnel in various sectors for Africa, offer 18,000 government scholarships, and build cultural and vocational skills training facilities in African countries.
China will also help African countries enhance capacity building in meteorological infrastructure and forest protection and management, and will continue to carry out well-drilling and water supply projects in Africa to provide safe drinking water for the African people.
In addition, the Chinese side will support the African integration process and help Africa enhance capacity for overall development. It will establish a partnership with Africa on transnational and trans-regional infrastructure development, support related project planning and feasibility studies and encourage established Chinese companies and financial institutions to take part in transnational and trans-regional infrastructural development in Africa.
The Chinese side will also enhance people-to-people friendship to lay a solid foundation of public support for enhancing China-Africa common development. China proposes to carry out "China-Africa people-to-people friendship action" to support and promote exchanges and cooperation between people's organizations, women and youth of the two sides.
According to Hu, China will also launch the "Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security", deepen cooperation with the African Union (AU) and African countries in peace and security in Africa, provide financial support for the AU peace-keeping missions in Africa and the development for the African Standby Force, and train more officials in peace and security affairs and peace-keepers for the AU.
According to Hu, important progress has been made in realizing China-Africa new type of strategic partnership, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides.
He said China and Africa should strengthen political mutual trust and expand practical cooperation in order to open up new prospects for China-Africa partnership.
The ministerial conference is being held in the Chinese capital on Thursday and Friday, bringing together heads of state and government, foreign ministers and ministers for foreign economic cooperation from China and 50 African countries, as well as representatives from the AU.
In his congratulations to the opening of the conference, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi hailed China's contribution to Africa's regional integration process.
"China's role in supporting Africa's efforts aiming at achieving regional integration is now evident through its involvement in the development of infrastructure, energy and communication sectors, as well as its contribution to the maintenance of peace and security," Morsi said in his congratulations, which were read by Presidential Envoy Mohamed Kamel Amr at Thursday's opening ceremony.
"The marginalization of the African continent should no longer be accepted," he noted, saying that the FOCAC has and will continue to support the notion that Africa should effectively contribute to laying a just foundation for new international political, economic and financial orders.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said during the opening ceremony that Africa is ready to leverage on the existing China-Africa partnerships such as the FOCAC to fast-track Africa's developmental agenda.
Zuma said growth and investment opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure development, green technology and agriculture are certainly on the rise, noting that Africa has become one of the fastest growing continents and the next growth pole whose growth will continue in an upward trend for years to come.
Addressing the ceremony, current AU Chairperson and Benin President Boni Yayi said Africa hopes to strengthen the win-win partnership with China, and jointly explore rich resources in Africa.
Africa's population will likely hit 2 billion by 2050, which will pose challenges to its education, hygiene, energy and food security, said Yayi.
Meanwhile, Africa has rich untapped resources, which has endowed the continent great growth potential, he added. He also said Africa welcomes more Chinese companies to invest in the continent.
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who also addressed the opening ceremony, said the UN has for years strongly advocated South-South cooperation.
He said the deepening partnership between China and Africa is creating opportunities for African countries to diversify their economies, create jobs, and improve health care and education, while contributing to the world economy at a time when traditional drivers are in economic downturn.
Ban said the forum should continue to make deeper inroads against poverty, strengthen African capacity and build green economies.
The FOCAC is a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries launched in 2000.
The main agenda of the two-day ministerial conference is to review the implementation of follow-up activities from the fourth ministerial conference of the FOCAC in 2009. The conference also plans to examine and adopt the "Beijing Declaration" and "Beijing Action Plan (2013-2015)" to define new cooperative programs to be undertaken over the next three years.