Dream of the Same Sky and Build a Closer China-Africa Community with a Shared Future

Written on the occasion of “Talk with Taikonauts”&20-year anniversary for China-AU relation

By HU Changchun

The deep space always leaves people with infinite imagination. From the Nabta Playa site to the Timbuktu astronomical manuscripts, from the modern Square Kilometre Array in South Africa to African Space Agency established by African Union, Africa’s exploration of space has never stopped. The same is true in China. Ancient legend of Chang’e flying to the moon spread through our history, and nowadays we have realized the dream of going to the space. A beautiful encounter with space is the common aspiration of both our people for thousands of years. In early September this year, China will co-host the “Talk with Taikonauts” with African Union. This is the first time that a partner of Africa organize a Sky-Earth connection for African youths to have close engagement with astronauts in the space, which also marks the 20th anniversary for the establishment of diplomatic relation between China and African Union.
Since the establishment of AU in 2002, China has worked hand in hand with AU for 20 years, and our strategic partnership has become stronger as time goes by:
Political mutual trust has been continuously enhanced. Over the past 20 years, the leaders of China and AU have established profound friendship and high-level mutual trust. We insist on equal treatment, mutual support in solidarity and win-win cooperation. Upholding the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, China firmly supports AU in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs, and supports African solutions to African problems. AU firmly supports China’s core interests, including the one-China principle, and supports China’s defense of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to China-AU relations. He sends congratulatory letters to the AU Assembly every year and has met with a number of AU leaders. Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki has repeatedly congratulated the major events of Communist Party of China and major Chinese festivals. In February 2020, he was the first to send a letter to support China’s fight against the COVID-19.
Communication mechanism has been going mature. Over the past 20 years, China and AU have established a number of exchange and cooperation mechanisms to lead China-Africa cooperation. The China-AU Strategic Dialogue is a platform for China and Africa to maintain communication on major international strategic issues. It has been held for seven rounds so far. We have also established the Peace and Security Dialogue, the China-Africa Economic Cooperation Expert Group Meeting, the China-Africa Beidou Cooperation Forum, foreign policy consultations and human rights consultations. In 2015 and 2018, China and AU sent diplomatic missions to each other, and the communication channels became more effective.
Pragmatic cooperation has set examples throughout Africa. Over the past 20 years, China-AU cooperation has achieved leapfrog development. The AU Conference Center is China’s largest aid project to Africa after the Tazara Railway and has become a shining name card of Africa’s political capital. China has also aided construction of landmark buildings such as the AU Comprehensive Service Center, the Radio and Television Center, the Sunken Theater, and the China-Africa Friendship Garden, and provided several batches of material, technical and security assistance. AU is the first international organization to sign the Cooperation Plan on Belt and Road Initiative with China, as well as the first to establish the China-AU Coordination Mechanism for Implementing the BRI. AU is the bellwether to implement BRI on the continent. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has provided a large number of supplies and vaccines to the AU. The China-aided Africa CDC Headquarter project has overcome many construction challenges and is expected to hand-over to AU early next year, which is a concrete interpretation of President Xi’s proposal to build a China-Africa community of health.
The past 20 years have been a journey of overcoming challenges and enhancing partnerships. It is believed that with the joint efforts of both parties, we will create a better future:
First, we need work together for solidarity and rejuvenation. The Chinese Dream of great national rejuvenation and the African dream that the African people aspire to revitalize offer inspirations to each other in the new era. China and AU need to further strengthen solidarity and cooperation, firmly support each other’s core interests, deepen the experience exchange on state governance, strengthen friendly exchanges in various fields and at all levels, and enhance mutual learning between civilizations. Some western countries, out of Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, continue to contain and smear China as well as try decoupling and breaking supply chains. Out of colonial superiority and “judges” mentality, western powers frequently lecture on Africa as well as impose sanctions and unilateral coercive measures against Africa. This is not the way to deal with Chinese and African people in the 21st century. We long for a good life, and nothing can stop us from moving forward.
Second, we need speed up practical cooperation in various fields. Full play should be given to the leading and exemplary role of China-AU cooperation. We need to push forward the synergy of the BRI, Global Development Initiative, FOCAC Nine Programs and the AU Agenda 2063 as well as African development agendas, in order to continuously strengthen our creative cooperation in the area of health & disease control, trans-regional infrastructure, energy & climate change, digital economy, food security & loss, trade & investment, etc. Ultimately, it is for the Chinese and African people to judge the results of China-Africa cooperation. Some forces disregard facts, smear China-Africa cooperation, and fabricate disinformation such as “debt trap”. Their true intention is to deny the friendship between China and Africa and the well-being of African people.
Third, we need jointly build the cause of fairness and justice. We must firmly uphold the just propositions of developing countries, resolutely resist the replacement of basic norms governing international relations with unilaterally-defined rules by a few countries, and call for increasing the representation and voice of developing countries in global governance, ensuring that all countries enjoy equal rights, rules and opportunities. China firmly supports AU and its member states to play a larger and more active role in international affairs, and stands ready with AU to safeguard and practice true multilateralism and promote the development of international governance system towards a more just and reasonable direction.
As an ancient Chinese adage goes, “with one heart and one mind, we can accomplish everything we aspire for.” The overwhelming force created by the 2.8 billion people’s endeavour in China and Africa is unstoppable. Let us firm up confidence and stride forward in pursuit of higher-level and higher-quality partnership between China and AU. Take the “Talk with Taikonauts” as an opportunity to inspire young people in China and Africa to forge ahead and explore, and join hands to build an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

HU Changchun is Chinese Ambassador to the AU and UNECA

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