The fifth China-Africa People’s Forum under the theme of “pooling strength from the people for stronger China-Africa friendship and mutual trust” opened in Chengdu, Chinese capital of Sichuan province this Monday morning, 23rd July 2018. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message stating that by “enhancing people-to-people friendship, promoting practical cooperation and furthering world peace,” the forum serves as “an important bridge” between the Chinese and African people, which has played an active role in promoting people-to-people exchanges between the two sides since 2011.
The Forum was previously held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2011, Suzhou, China in 2012, Khartoum, Sudan in 2014 and Yiwu, China in 2015. The Chinese President who is currently abroad on a new round of state visits to African countries including Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius expressed in his statement read by Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, that; “It is my hope that this forum provides an opportunity for all of you to share ideas and experiences, build consensus and to contribute your insights and suggestions on friendly people-to-people cooperation between China and Africa.”
According to Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, China and Africa have become “natural allies” over the years sharing similar historical experiences, struggles and development goals. The Chinese Vice President who gave the keynote speech at the opening stated that; “We should be promoters for political mutual trust, we should be pushers for economic mutual benefit, we should be practitioners to learn from and reflect on each other’s civilizations, we should be watchers for security mutual aid, and we should be collaborators for multilateral interactions.”
Other prominent leaders such as Clément Mouamba, prime minister of the Republic of the Congo, Vincent Meriton, vice president of the Seychelles and Party president of the People’s Party, also spoke at the opening of the forum, praising the cooperation between China and their respective countries and encouraging other African leaders to explore and implement China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the future, with a vision to bringing not just benefits to Chinese and African people in the journey to eliminating poverty, but also enlarge the framework of the forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Meriton described China as becoming a global leader in accelerating the creation of an unbiased globalization. In his words; “Africa has suffered a lot in the past. We have been slaves, we have been colonies, and our resources have been robbed, but now Africa has turned the page and looks forward to becoming a land of hope in the future. With such an ally and friend as China, we can build new partnerships, find new solutions, and reach new deals to achieve win-win.”
The forum ” is jointly hosted by the China NGO Network for International Exchanges and Sichuan provincial government, and serves as a warm-up for the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to be held in September. More than 190 guests and representatives from China and 30 African countries are set to attend the meeting held from July 23 – 24 this year. The forum will discuss how NGOs can use their unique advantages and play a major part in promoting China-Africa friendship and cooperation, and accelerate the building of a community with a shared future for China and Africa. It will also scheme up an initiative of 30 cooperative programs for the Chinese arm to implement in civil areas in Africa within the next three years.
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