By Liu Yuxi
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the African Union (AU). Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his warm congratulations to African countries and people in a congratulatory message to the AU Summit, which mirrored the unbreakable and everlasting friendship between China and Africa.
The AU, as a successor of the Organization of African Unity founded in 1963, officially replaced the latter in July 2002 when it held its first summit, and has become the most representative and authoritative intergovernmental organization in Africa.
Over the past 20 years, the AU has stayed committed to seeking strength through unity, actively explored a development path suited to Africa, facilitated important progress in regional integration and coordinated a concerted response from African countries to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such efforts have proven effective in maintaining peace, stability and development in Africa, and have won Africa growing influence and stature in the world.
China and the AU are important partners in promoting high-level China-Africa community with a shared future and safeguarding international equity and justice.
China is the world’s largest developing country, and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Shared past experiences and similar aims and goals have brought China and Africa close together.
Since the founding of the AU, China-AU relations have been constantly developing. The two sides have maintained frequent high-level mutual visits. In 2008, they established a strategic dialogue mechanism, and their political mutual trust has been continuously deepened. The China-aided AU headquarters’ building, which was completed in 2012, became a new monument of China-Africa cooperation. In 2015 and 2018, the Chinese Mission to the AU and the AU Representative Office in Beijing were respectively launched, further consolidating their bilateral relationship.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and the AU have helped each other and fought side by side to defeat the pandemics.
In February 2020, the AU issued a communiqué in support of China’s anti-pandemic efforts, being the first international organization to offer China such support.
China has provided more than 100 batches of medical supplies to African countries and the AU. The China-aided headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commenced its phase-1 project ahead of schedule and was topped-out at the end of the last year.
China and the AU signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a coordination mechanism for Belt and Road cooperation. It marked that the China-Africa joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative has entered a new phase of implementation, and has injected new impetus into China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development.
At the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in November 2021, President Xi announced ‘nine programs’ for future cooperation with Africa, including a donation of another 1 billion doses of vaccines to Africa aiming to help Africa strengthen capacity building in public health.
With profound changes and a pandemic unseen in a century, the global governance system is undergoing unprecedented adjustments. To respond to new challenges brought about by COVID-19, President Xi put forward the Global Development Initiative (GDI), and the initiative has been well received by African countries.
China welcomes the AU and African countries to join the initiative, and is willing to further synergize the GDI with the AU Agenda 2063. The GDI will become another powerful booster to promote China-Africa cooperation and play a positive role in Africa’s economic recovery and sustainable development.
Both history and reality prove that the close relationship between China and Africa is not forged within a day, nor was it bestowed by others. Instead, their relationship was a hard-won result of the two sides’ long-term mutual assistance offered through thick and thin.
The majestic strength of the 2.7 billion people in China and Africa is unstoppable. China-Africa cooperation will continue to enhance the welfare of the Chinese and African peoples, and create a bright future featuring common development and prosperity.