African Union and China renew commitment to advance multilateral cooperation
African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Amb. Kwesi Quartey met with Li Zhanshu, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress of the People’s Republic of China at the African Union Headquarters on Friday, where both leaders renewed their commitments to consolidate and deepen the longstanding African Union- China strategic partnership. China has for long been one of Africa’s most important allies, with significant Sino-Africa history, dating back to the colonial and liberation struggles.
The high level meeting and the first visit to Africa by Mr. Zhanshu, was an opportunity for the AU Commission and China to assess the implementation progress of the areas of cooperation under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) mechanism and the Belt and Road initiative. The leaders had exchanges on the need to capitalize on the synergies between the African Union and China, to ensure the success of the continental projects in areas such as peace and security, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, health and education sectors, whose realization, they noted, would cement the win-win cooperation. These areas of cooperation were the centre of deliberations in the visit to China, by the Chairperson of the AU Commission Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. (Click here for more on the Visit of the African Union Commission Chairperson to the People's Republic of China)
Amb. Kwesi briefed on the priorities and flagship projects of the AU notably the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the protocol on Free Movement, the single air transport and further highlighted the progress in enhancing domestic resource mobilization with the implementation of the decision on financing of the Union for the self-reliance and predictable funding of the AU activities and projects. Imposing the 0.2% levy on eligible imported goods will fund 100% of the operational budget, 75% of the program budget and 25% of the peace support operations of the African Union. Mr. Zhanshu reiterated China’s support for Africa’s development agenda noting that the cooperation would seek to advance the realization of the priorities of the needs of the African citizenry and would align to the continent’s development blueprint; Agenda 2063, underpinned by the principles of mutual interests and shared values.
In referencing China’s advanced industrialisation, Amb. Kwesi observed the need for human capacity development which he noted would catapult Africa’s development agenda. He underscored the need for education and skills improvement for the African citizenry, especially the bulging youth, stating that this would enhance the quest for industrialization, integration through managed migration and skills transfer, peace and security by creating an environment for meaningful engagement of the population, value addition for Africa’s rich natural resources which would provide job opportunities and the improvement of the socio-economic environment for all. “I am glad there is this popular realization that to drive Africa’s vision, we need an educated, literate and numerate population. We must endeavour to have every child in school and to review the quality of education our institutions offer, to make it more responsive to the demands of the modern day demands and realities. We must leverage on science and technology”, he said. In this regard, Mr. Zhanshu shared the experience and the benefits of having an educated people, which he highlighted was the backborne of China’s economic rise. He, in particular noted “China has relentlessly implemented the Compulsory Education Law where everyone has to undergo nine years of government funded compulsory school attendance. We have expanded our focus on the tertiary education because we are reaping the benefits of education and skills training”. China’s education system is the largest state-run education system in the world.
In the bilateral meeting attended by Mrs. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mrs Amira Elfadil Mohamed Elfadil, the Commissioner for Social Affairs, Directors and Advisors to the Deputy Chairperson, the Commission briefed on the intended establishment of an African Union representational office in Beijing to heighten the cooperation between the African Union and China.
Mr. Zhanshu also took the opportunity to restate China’s commitment to continue supporting African Common positions at the United Nations Security Council especially the sustainable financing of peace support operations in line with the UN resolutions and decisions adopted by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
Ahead of the 4th FOCAC Summit scheduled to take place in Beijing, in September 2018, both leaders acknowledged the results achieved within FOCAC mechanism highlighting the intentions to strengthen the mechanism to further promote multilateralism.