By Bai Yang, Liu Lingling from People’s Daily

China-Africa relations have set a model for the solidarity and cooperation between China and developing countries, as well as the best example for South-South cooperation, diplomats, experts and scholars told People’s Daily ahead of the upcoming 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

The summit to be held in Beijing from September 3 to 4 will provide new opportunities for China and Africa to align each other’s development strategies and build a closer community of common destiny, they added.

Placing high importance on the development of relations with African countries, China will always stand together with Africa and other developing countries, and will be a sincere friend and reliable partner of Africa forever, no matter how the international landscape changes, and no matter how much progress China has made in development, China pledged previously.

The principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 for China’s relations with Africa were welcomed by the latter, said Xu Jinghu, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs.

The concepts serve as the guiding philosophy for China in its endeavors to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, expressed Xu, adding that China-Africa relations have become a role model for cooperation between China and developing countries, as well as South-South cooperation.

During the past 18 years since the establishment of the FOCAC, the mechanism has constantly progressed to deeper levels and broader directions, said He Yafei, former Vice Foreign Minister of China.

He, also a senior researcher with Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies under Renmin University of China, pointed out that the FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue and pragmatic cooperation between China and African countries.

In addition to economic and trade cooperation, the Beijing Summit will see deepening and expanding China-Africa cultural and people-to-people exchanges, said He, adding that the Summit will inject more vitality into bilateral friendship.

Under the framework of the FOCAC, China and African countries have established many sub-forums covering a variety of aspects including industry, agriculture, law, education, culture, and art, according to Liu Guijin, former Special Representative of the Chinese Government for African Affairs, former Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, and former Chinese Ambassador to South Africa.

The sub-forums of the FOCAC have continuously pushed China-Africa relations to new heights, Liu said, adding that the forum has brought benefits to both China and Africa.

The FOCAC has witnessed a process of mutual consultation, joint construction, and benefit sharing between China and Africa. The proposal to hold the Forum was first put forward by African countries, and China has been consulting with African countries for their opinions when it was to hold the events, said Liu.

According to Zhou Yuxiao, China’s Ambassador for Affairs of the FOCAC, new policies will be introduced at the Beijing Summit to effectively align the Belt and Road Initiative with the African Union Agenda 2063, so as to promote the deep integration of the Chinese dream and the African dream, thus building a closer China-Africa community of common destiny.

The construction of the Belt and Road has provided a broader platform for China-Africa cooperation, said Zhou, indicating that China and Africa have laid a foundation for cooperation in achieving infrastructure and financial connectivity, and the upcoming summit will attract more countries to join the construction of the Belt and Road.

Calling the construction of Belt and Road and the FOCAC as two “legs” and “engines” of China-Africa cooperation, Zhou said that China-Africa cooperation will walk faster in a steady manner with the “legs”, and will fly higher and further thanks to the “engines”.

African countries are now committed to pushing forward industrialization and modernization, Zhou pointed out, saying that the Beijing Summit will formulate priority areas and key directions for China-Africa cooperation with special considerations given to meet the needs of Africa’s economic transformation and upgrading.

The policies to be worked out at the Beijing Summit will help Africa nurture its capacity for independent development, thus accelerating its marches towards industrialization and modernization, said Zhou.

He believes that with the concerted efforts, the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC will become a milestone event in the history of China-Africa relations.