China mulls new measures in cooperation with Africa amid global downturn

China may come up with new measures to help African countries at the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the Chinese ambassador to Liberia has disclosed.

With the view of fostering closer ties with the African continent and facilitating common development, China would unveil some new measures to assist Africa during the summit, which is set for Nov.8-9 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Ambassador Zhou Yuxiao announced.

The Chinese envoy addressing senior Liberian government officials here, as well as foreign diplomats at a special ceremony to mark the achievements of the 2006 Beijing summit of FOCAC and the Convention of the 4th FOCAC Ministerial Conference.

This year’s FOCAC session is expected to discuss how to deepen China-Africa cooperation against the backdrop of the global economic downturn.

“I am confident that with the joint efforts to be made by all the participating countries, particularly by the Egyptian host, that has been doing an excellent job in preparing for the conference, the forth coming summit will be another success and serve as a land mark in the history of China-Africa friendship and cooperation,” Ambassador Zhou said.

Although the Chinese ambassador did not elaborate on these new measures, he said China’s target to double its aid to Africa would have been achieved by the end of 2009 while, at the same time, the “China-Africa Development Fund” is operational for possible Chinese assistance to the continent.

He said the whole initiative behind the establishment of FOCAC started during the Beijing Summit, when the Chinese government and African leaders concluded a declaration and an action plan for possible Chinese assistance to the continent.

A highlight at the Beijing Summit was the eight measures announced by Chinese President Hu Jintao to enhance substantial cooperation with the continent.

“In the past three years, all the relevant Chinese government departments and the Chinese diplomatic missions in Africa were instructed by the top Chinese leadership to ensure full and effective implementation of the plan and the measures and allow none of them to be reduced to a mere lip service,” the Chinese ambassador said.

Over the past three years, he said, China-Africa cooperation has yielded fruits including zero-tariff for African countries, which has drastically increased their export to China; the completion of debt cancellation for Africa; an African Union Conference Center, which is under construction; and the full operation of the development fund for the continent.

The Chinese envoy said economic trade zones are being built in African countries, while the continent has trained 13,307 personnel on applicable techniques and skills like paddy-rice growing, fish-raising, biogas and mini-hydro as part of China’s contribution to bilateral cooperation.

For her part, Liberian Foreign Minister Olunbanke King Akerele renewed her country’s commitment to the objectives of FOCAC.

She said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would be in Sharm El Sheikh for the summit at the head of the Liberian delegation. The Egyptian ambassador to Liberia, who also attended the ceremony, said his country is ready to host the event.

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